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Fun Facts About Babies

Updated on February 25, 2013
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Sign language eases frustration in older babies and gives them a way to communicate their desires. This successful early communication leads to earlier advancement in language development.

Those little bodies that seem to want nothing more than to eat and sleep are a bit more complicated than you might think. Here are just a few things researchers can now tell us about our little bundles of joy.

Babies understand physics very quickly

Babies are born with innate expectations regarding their physical world and the objects that surround them. Even at 2 months old they can understand advanced concepts like gravity and that an object inside a container has not disappeared entirely but actually moves with the container. As they approach 6 months old, babies’ skills advance and they can understand that objects have different properties, such as solids being different from liquids, and that we interact with them in unique ways. For instance, if a baby becomes acclimated to a liquid through an experiment and is then presented with a solid of similar appearance they will be surprised that a straw cannot penetrate the solid object.

After 6 months, babies demonstrate some early math skills as well. They can understand differences in the numbers of objects and show a preference for higher numbers, such as picking a container with more food when given the option. All this conceptual understanding provides an important foundation for parents to build upon as they encourage their child’s development through talk and play.

Even before the age of one, babies can understand your thoughts

By the age of 7 months, babies have an understanding of how events unfold and what others are expecting about the world around them, even if it differs from their own expectation. Researchers use a process called ‘violation of expectation’ and monitor the time a baby looks at a particular visual scenario shown to them. The researchers can then assess what interests a baby, or basically what surprises them. Studies have shown that babies are far more interested in watching scenes unfold that include surprising interactions. For example, they can be shown a video that includes a cartoon character and a rolling ball do expected, or unexpected things. Babies demonstrate a clear preference for scenes that show the character experiencing the unexpected outcomes, leading researchers to conclude that babies must understand what that character expects to occur.

Babies quickly grasp that bigger is better.

By the age of 10 months, babies show an understanding of the concept that bigger means better and that bigger is supposed to win. The most likely explanation for this ability is that they are born with an innate understanding of dominance and look for clues as to what constitutes a winner. Size is a consistent marker of this throughout nature, such as when a bear stands on its hind legs in a confrontation.

When shown scenes where a larger object gives way to a smaller one, babies stare at it longer, indicating that their expectation of what should occur has been challenged. Overall, this ‘bigger is better’ understanding shows a surprising complexity of thought, involving the understanding of innate social hierarchy, goals, conflict, and that some people win, while others lose out and/or defer to the bigger counterpart. All of this comes together before a baby hits the one-year mark!

Baby cries have a language

Babies can hear the world around them from within the womb, including muted conversations and their mother’s voice. This early exposure leads them to prefer conversations in their own language, and even cry in different ways depending on that native language. For instance, German baby cries tend to move from high to low pitches, while French babies do the opposite, starting out low and becoming high. This language-based adaptation helps endear them to their mothers and encourage bonding.

Babytalk and sign language boost language development

How many times have you seen an adult transform into a different creature, with a large mouth and slowed speech when in front of a baby? It turns out that this exaggerated speaking habit has a purpose. Babytalk, or ‘motherese’ as it is sometimes called, results in the adult drawing out words. This makes it easier for babies to understand what the adult is saying and plays an important role in baby language development. Babies have a lot to process and this method of speech slows things down to their speed.

Sign language is another way a parent can boost a baby’s verbal skills. Studies have shown that sign language eases frustration in older babies, giving them a way to communicate before they possess the words they need to convey their desires. This successful early communication leads to earlier advancement in language development.

Babies cry – a lot – but more so in the evenings

It seems like babies cry all day long, but in reality they tend to be fussier in the evenings than any other time of day. Theories for this behavior range from the need to ‘tank up’ before bedtime, that they are just tired, that they have an immature nervous system, or that they simply remember Mom being really active in this period during pregnancy. Studies have shown several factors that may influence this behavior. For instance, their body temperature is higher at this time, which may make it harder for them to unwind. In addition, they haven’t yet begun producing the melatonin that helps us all sleep at night and their brains are not yet able to take control of their behaviors and transition from different states of mind. One thing it’s not, however, is a lack of milk from Mom – babies who take formula instead of breast milk are just as likely to share this frustrating behavior. Whatever the cause, it tends to smooth out by the age of 4-6 months as their bodies develop and natural hormone production takes over the regulation of the sleep cycle.

Bonus Facts About Newborns –

They can imitate facial expressions

They cannot cry real tears for several weeks

They are more likely to turn their head to the right than to the left

They can breathe and swallow at the same time for several months

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