As the groundbreaking film “What Babies Want” hosted by Noah Wyle, an American actor, celebrates its 18th anniversary, we are reinvigorated to spread the word that holds the key to creating a profoundly healthier society – one baby at a time. Eighteen years after this potent message was broadcast, it is even more poignant.

As the groundbreaking film “What Babies Want” hosted by Noah Wyle, an American actor, celebrates its 18th anniversary, we are reinvigorated to spread the word that holds the key to creating a profoundly healthier society – one baby at a time. Eighteen years after this potent message was broadcast, it is even more poignant.

A film that brings cutting edge science and the ways of traditional cultures together tells us that babies want to be loved and respected as human beings right from the start.

What Babies Want changed the way many thought about conception, pregnancy, infancy, and the human experience throughout a lifetime. 

As a childbirth educator at that time of its release I played several chapters of this film during my 6-week childbirth preparation series. It brought scared parents a sense of calm and delight to know that their instincts about their babies were right all along. It deepened their understanding and excitement about birthing their babies. Many times, when the chapter I was showing that evening would end, I would turn on the lights to a room filled with joyful tears and a quiet reverence.

So, it felt like seeing old friends when a film viewing and panel discussion hosted by Association of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health (APPPAH) featuring the producer Debby Takikawa and others in the film to discuss its impact was recently scheduled. It was delightful to hear the panel’s voices over zoom after almost two decades. As the chat box filled up, the wise speakers inspired those of us listening with delight.

So, with deep admiration and affection to those who shared their life work with us and continue to do so, a summation of learnings are listed below.

The Film – What Babies Want – Summation

The film begins with Joseph Chilton-Pierce, author of a number of books on child and human development, tells us about the American crisis going on: As bad things are happening for our children the result is that bad things are happening by our children.

As I watched this film for the 100th time, I was chilled by the words as it now seems like a foretelling of what we are seeing in today’s childhood experience which lingers into adulthood. 

Barbara Findeison, MFT with her impactful voice tells us that we have an epidemic of drugging our children more than any other country in the world with the highest rates of attention deficit disorder using 80 to 90% of the world’s supply of the prescription drug Ritalin.

The third highest cause of death of American children between the ages of five and seventeen is suicide – two times highter than that of 25 other countries combined. Such a jaw dropping statistic delivered by the hopeful Joseph Chilton-Peierce.

“We are creating a society of violence” says Barbara Findeison and “it doesn’t have to be that way” she concludes.

“And yet”, Joseph Chilton-Pierce says, “at the same time, when there is such a crisis happening, we are discovering so much about that newborn infant.” With a smile and twinkle in his eye, Joseph Chilton-Pierce brings the viewer a sense of hope and leaves us wanting to know the solution which we know is coming.

He continues, “I think we have a chance to erase all forms of violence, through the proper approach to pregnancy, and birth, and the first three years of life alone.”  

This film so perfectly captures the essence of APPPAH’s Foundations of Birth Psychology  that it warrants mentioning them here:

APPPAH’s Foundations of Birth Psychology

  1. Babies in the womb and in the world are sensitive, perceptive, cognitive and conscious.

  2. Babies in the womb and in the world are social, communicative and building relationships.

  3. Babies in the womb and in the world have innate needs that are intricately linked to the mother-baby bond.

  4. Babies in the womb and in the world develop an epigenetic blueprint that is long lasting and may be passed on to the next generation.


Top 10 What Babies Want Film Takeaways

  1. The Spark
    With an upswing in childhood violence, learning disorders, drug use, and suicide, we can look to the experiences we create for our babies from conception to age three to find ways to improve so that children can grow into their authentic selves and keep their spark alive forever.

  2. Sophisticated Babies
    Babies are far more sophisticated than anything we ever gave them credit for. They can recall conception, being in the womb, and birth. Babies are extraordinary communicators and are in continual communication with their parents from the moment of conception – even when the parents aren’t aware of it.

  3. Preparing Emotionally
    Rather than thinking babies become aware of us and their surroundings at birth, we can work to prepare our lives emotionally pre-conception so we don’t transfer our own emotional trauma onto our babies.

  4. Healthy Brain Structures
    If we offer full support to the mother, like Sweden, Austria and Holland, from pregnancy through the first three years, and offer unconditional love by our communities, anxiety and stress is reduced which creates a drastically healthier brain structure in babies.

  5. Baby Bonding
    When we come from the belief that babies are conscious, every way we interact with them changes. Even bonding with our babies immediately after birth underlies the foundation of the emotional connection between parent/child relationships that will last a lifetime. Bonding is heightened by skin-to-skin contact, eye contact, talking to our babies, listening to them, touching, holding, breastfeeding and spontaneous play.

  6. Eye Contact & Brain Impact
    Eye contact with babies within minutes after birth turns on their brain, if eye contact is not initiated with the baby there will be a three month delay in development.

  7. Gentle Emergence
    Because the medical field ( we – remove when comment resolved)thought that babies weren’t conscious caring beings, hospital birthing protocols weren’t established to serve what a baby would want. Instead many babies are born into bright light, cold room temperatures, rough handling while drying, injections, being held upside down and slapped to get them breathing, and separation of baby and parents. All of these birthing practices that still exist today, depending on individual hospital protocols, create a very rough start for a baby. If we can support a more gentle, peaceful and quiet emergence into the world, a more natural biological and loving and trusting process will emerge.

  8. Creating Genuine Connection
    A crying baby who is trying to communicate needs to be responded to with genuine connection not a laugh or the common phrase “Oh he has healthy lungs” which is dismissive of his experience. How we respond directly impacts future relationships. 

  9. Creating Trust
    Neuropsychology tells us that the imprints of our first experiences set up belief systems and behavior patterns that continue into adulthood. Adults who have explored their own birth through therapy have discovered it profoundly affected their life by affecting things like trust, safety and relationship development. The connection between the first few minutes of life directly impacts how we live throughout our life is a whole new concept. Many children and teens who act out are in truth just living out the fear they experienced from conception to age three.

  10. Communicate and Witness
    During birth and through the early years, it is so important to connect with our children and witness their purpose. Some of our most basic needs are to be included, to be heard, to be understood, and to know that someone cares about us enough to be tender. Afterall, our survival depends on us being able to connect with other people.


If we are born into a nurturing environment and feel wanted.

If we emerge into loving arms where we feel we belong.

We can heal our society that is currently overrun with people impacted by the damage of the violence they experience at birth. 

If we can aim to lessen the number of adults searching to heal their grief.

If we change our hospital birth system from one of violence to tenderness, we will change the world.

What Babies Want is such an inspiring and informative film, if you haven’t seen it, please do.  What Babies Want Film Viewing and Panel Discussion | APPPAH

Please join us in sharing this with as many people as you can reach: friends, family, medical health professionals and certainly expecting families.

Three Ways to Share

  1. Host a watch party in person or on zoom and have a discussion after.
  2. Comment on this blog via the APPPAH website
  3. Post a link to social media and encourage friends and family to watch and share how it impacted them.

To learn more about birth psychology and be a member of our community which supports our Mission, sign up for our free monthly newsletters and enjoy our Monday APPPAH Live! events and APPPAH Connect, monthly member networking calls 

Film available:
Producer: Debby Takikawa

Film Editor: David Tarleton

Starring: Ray Castellino, David Chamberlain, Joseph Chilton-Pierce, Noah Wyle, Debby Takikawa, filmmaker

  • Wendy Anne McCarty, PhD, RN
  • Marti Glenn, PhD
  • Mary Jackson, RN, LM, RCST


APPPAH’s Mission

APPPAH’s mission is to support and promote human potential from the very beginning of life by providing global education to professionals and families about emerging evidence in prenatal and perinatal science and birth psychology that babies are conscious and aware and have their own thoughts, feelings, and experiences before, during, and after birth.