A study of 20 mothers was conducted to determine the cognitive operations used by Chinese mothers in conceptual behaviour toward their newborn infants. Mothers' spontaneous speech, referring to the newborn infants during the feeding sessions, comprised the data for analysis. A total of 2300 records of behaviour were produced as mothers used orienting, evaluating and delineating operations in conceptualizing their newborn infants. Four aspects of the newborn infant namely, appearance, physical state, body function and social characteristics were important to these new mothers. Mothers tended to use orienting behaviour more frequently (P < 0.001) than both evaluating and delineating behaviours as they conceptualized irfants' body functions and physical state. Delineating behaviour was significantly (P < 0.001) more important in relation to infants' appearance than to other aspects of the infants. Mothers' parity seemed to be a significant variable (P < 0.05) only when mothers evaluate the infants' appearance. Comparison between Chinese and American maternal conceptual behaviour revealed that American mothers, in general, tended to use evaluating and delineating behaviour more frequently than Chinese mothers; but no significant difference in using orienting behaviour was found. As for the four aspects of the infant, there was no significant difference in two groups as they conceptualized infants' appearance and social characteristics. However, a significant difference (P < 0.05) was found in relation to infants' physical state and body functions.