Parents have long known of the abilities of babies that scientists are just now revealing. It’s good to know that your instincts were not far off. It’s true: babies are a good judge of character, they do naturally prefer beautiful faces, and they have a favorite color early on. There are other things that scientists have discovered that parents might not have known, such as that they are naturally color blind when it comes to race but are quite sensitive to a difference of hue. The most striking discoveries include that babies actually know how to count and they can hold their breath and swim instinctively.
Researchers at YaleUniversity found that babies could actually prefer a helpful person over others. The study used babies that were 6-10 months old to see if they could tell the difference between helpful and unhelpful puppets, even when the help did not effect the baby in any way. The babies unanimously chose the puppet that helped another puppet up a hill. Scientists used a colorful wooden block with plastic “googly” eyes as the main character and showed two scenes to the babies - one where a helpful puppet assisted the block in getting up the hill and another where a puppet pushed the block down the hill. After the show, babies were given the option of which puppet they wanted and nearly all of them went for the helpful one. When the researchers removed the eyes from the puppets, the reaction was not as strong, which scientists say indicates that the babies identified them as characters. The experiment continued but this time, the show featured each puppet befriending the block. Babies were more engaged when the block made friends with the unhelpful puppet, as if they were shocked. The study suggests that babies are able to make sophisticated decisions based on observing behavior. Scientists suggest that this may be hardwired in babies so that they can choose the most beneficial environment to thrive in, where the positive, more helpful influences would be.
Babies love to look at human faces and they actually have an incredible ability to tell faces apart. A study of babies at six months revealed an ability to differentiate between the faces of monkeys, a feat that adults aren’t capable of. Unfortunately, when the babies got to be nine months old, they could differentiate between human faces but they were no longer adept at the lesser-seen monkey faces. This study suggests that we develop an ability to differentiate between faces of unfamiliar races very early in life and lose that ability as time goes on, depending on our exposure to those races.
Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? It’s been found that babies tend to look at beautiful faces more than any other. In fact, one study found that babies looked at attractive faces about 80% more than others, indicating that a sense of beauty could be instinctive.
Why is it always blue for boys and pink for girls? One study found that babies develop a preference for colors early in life, so look out for signs of your baby’s favorite. The study found that babies can distinguish between colors and they prefer primary colors like blue, red, orange and purple. They seemed to dislike grey and brown consistently, even babies from cultures that don’t emphasize primary colors as much as the United States. When shown different shades of blue, they were just as bored as they were when exposed to the first shade of blue. This means that they actually recognize the similar hue, so painting the nursery with a bright blue might not get the baby any more excited than if you painted it with “baby blue.”
You may have struggled in algebra but you were actually born to do math. Babies are naturally able to differentiate between the numbers of things. MRI imaging showed the area of the brain related to counting light up when babies were introduced to changing numbers of things, but they also tended to look longer when suddenly presented with a different number of items than they had seen before. This finding is strange because as many of us can say, math definitely did not seem to come naturally.
Your baby is also a natural born swimmer, but only until approximately 16 months of age. Babies have a diving reflex that kicks in under water so that they instantly seal off their lungs and don’t inhale water. This enables babies to naturally hold their breath for long periods. They are also naturally buoyant and will gracefully adopt a swimming position as soon as they are in the water. Some parents are taking advantage of this reflex to better acquaint their babies to water and prevent the panic that can cause drowning in small children.
The idea that this baby is totally dependant on you can be wearisome, but as scientists are finding, these little people actually have some built-in life skills that can help put your mind at ease. You just might find that your baby can judge character better than you and when Uncle Mike tries playing card tricks when your baby is at the table, you’ll know by her reaction that he pulled an extra card out of his sleeve.
Have you witnessed some of these instincts in your little one?
Photo Credit: Immanuel Giel
Babies Prefer Helpful To Unhelpful Social Types [MNT]
A rare piece of good news for older moms: children of older mothers were found to suffer fewer accidents and score higher on IQ tests in a recent study. These positive outcomes for children provide a counter-balance to the many studies that warn of more difficult pregnancies for those who delay motherhood.
Researchers at the University of Child Health, University College London and Birkbeck College, London found that children of older mothers received a wealth of benefits. The study looked at over 1,000 children born to women over the age of 40 and compared them to 38,000 children born to younger women. Children of older mothers were less likely to be admitted to the hospital and suffered fewer accidents overall. They were also at a lower risk of obesity. Children of older mothers also exhibited higher IQs, better vocabularies and better identification of shapes and pictures.
Dr. Alastair Sutcliffe, who worked on the study, had a variety of theories as to why children of older moms had better outcomes: "The big question is why. Older mothers appear to have good parenting skills, they may be less impulsive, calmer and have more life experience that better equips them for the role. More women are giving birth at older ages, this isn’t going to go away, they are deferring motherhood for many reasons." The number of women delaying motherhood has increased significantly in recent years, increasing from 15,000 in 2000 to 27,000 in 2010.
Did you delay motherhood?
Children of mothers over 40 'are healthier and more intelligent and less likely to have accidents' [DailyMail]
You can babyproof the house and buy the safest baby products on the market, but your baby can still have an accident. A new report finds that commonly used baby products are leading to injuries across the nation, mostly due to infants falling down with them in or near their mouths.
A recent study reviewed 20 years of data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to learn that thousands of children under the age of three are being treated for injuries that involve pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups. Between 1991-2010, over 45,000 children were treated for such injuries - over 2,000 per year. Over 80% of injuries were caused by falling down and two-thirds of the accidents involved bottles. One in five children were injured with a pacifier in their mouth and over 14% of accidents involved a sippy cup. The injuries included a variety of dental injuries and lacerations to the mouth, lips and tongue. Researchers also noted that babies approximately one-year-old were most frequently injured. The data doesn't include the many children who are injured and don't visit the emergency room.
Reserachers outline a few simple steps to help avoid these types of accidents. They ask parents to encourage children to stay seated while drinking. They also point out that the AAP recommends weaning off of a pacifier within the second six months of life (to reduce the risk of ear infections). The AAP also recommends teaching a child to drink out of a cup without a lid once they reach one-year-old.
Do you follow any of these steps?
Binkies, bottles and sippy cups: Handle with care [CNN]
Former star of Party of Five, Scott Wolf (43), is expecting his second child with his wife Kelley (35). Wolf tweeted over the weekend: "Just between the 10,149 of you and me, my wife and I are expecting our second child. We are expecting that because she's pregnant. Happy us."
The couple were married in 2004 and already are parents to 3-year-old Jackson Kayse.
The Social Security Administration just released the top baby names of 2011. References to popular culture, the Old Testament and continuing trends appear to be dictating the newest lists.
Jacob, the lead male character in the Twilight series, topped the boys list and Mason, as in Mason Kardashian, has come in second. Mason is in the top 100 for the first time since 1997. The list of boys names doesn't vary quite as often as the girls, making the jump significant. On the girls side, the name Briella has jumped 394 spots. Briella is the name of one of the stars on the TV show "Jerseylicious." The fastest trending name for boys was Brantley, presumably making a comeback due to the name of the country singer with the No. 1 hit "Country Must be Country Wide."
Top 10 Boys Names of 2011:
Top 10 Girls Names of 2011:
Did your baby's name appear in either of the top ten lists?
Every week we feature the best baby photos sent to us through our Babies of the Week contest. We receive photos from parents from all over the world. Here are a few of our favorites:
Jayden was born in November and is curious about everything. Mom says, "He is really alert and always smiles when you look at him."
Peyton was born in March, 2011. She loves to play outside.
Colton was born in December, 2011.
Mya Bizier was born in September, she is dressed up for her baptism.
Rafael was born in February, 2011. He is three months old in the picture. At six months, he has seven teeth and loves to eat. Apples are his favorite. Dad says, "I think he's growing up too fast he's crawling backwards and is beginning to try moving forward. He is amazing!"
Thanks to all the parents who sent us their pictures. You can see the rest of the featured photos on the front page of BabyWeekly. To enter your baby picture for the Baby of the Week contest, please click here. Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, it may take many months before your baby's photo is featured.