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Why is it that newborns know not to breath underwater, while toddlers must be taught?
A dear friend of mine enrolled her child in swim lessons this past summer. Her child struggled (as did other classmates) when it came to holding their breath under water, with a lot of spitting and sputtering coming from most of the toddlers in the class. Yet, when her child was born, she had a water birth; where the newborn is literally birthed into a large tub of water where it knows instinctively NOT to breath the stuff. I am wondering where within the genetic memory this gets forgotten, and why?
Thanks for playing along!
While in the womb, the fetus does not need to breathe as it gets all nutrients and oxygen through the umbilicus. Once born, this is learned. The farther we get from an experience, the less we remember it.
Okay, that makes sense to some degree. What happens during development that changes what we instinctively know as infants, to what we must learn as toddlers. Just seems odd that we forget this; from a survival point of view. Thanks for the comment!
We don't really completely forget, rather we progress from mere instinct to learned behavior.
A while back I watched National Geographic's Science of Babies documentary and it was talking about mental abilities babies are born with. Such as being able to understand tones and fluctuations of any language. This ability disappears as it focuses on the language of it's parents.The brain builds up networks around the new information it's receiving leaving the other avenues undeveloped. I'm guessing it's the same with holding the breath. The brain is so focused on breathing, crying, laughing, talking... all involving breath, that it leaves the small branch of holding it's breath undeveloped and either forgotten or very hard to access.
If these sort of things are also interesting to you please watch the documentary it also claimed that babies understand simple mathematical concepts!
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