Nature vs. Nurture

How you respond to your baby's quirks can make a difference.


Which most influences a child’s personality and behavior: genetics or upbringing? Experts believe both play a part, but a few recent studies highlight the positive effect of good parenting, especially for “temperamental” babies.

* Babies who cry a lot and respond poorly to new people and situations can shine by first grade if their parents are sensitive to their needs and respond to them with love and warmth, according to an Indiana University study.

* Fussy babies are more likely to have behavior problems in first grade, a University of Chicago study found. But when

parents give them lots of intellectual stimulation—such as talking and reading to them—during their first year, the risk

of trouble later on diminishes.

* Some infants hearts’ beat faster when they are exposed to stresses such as being separated from their mothers, a sign that they’re coping less effectively, according to a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill study. But the research also found that over time, these babies get better at handling challenging situations if their mothers are sensitive and responsive.