Have you ever been challenged to a gazing contest by a baby? Okay, so it's not an official competition, but it might feel a lot like one. What could possibly have them so enthralled at such a young age?
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Perhaps you've seen a newborn staring into space or at an inanimate object. (And don't forget moms everywhere's favorite attention-getting device: the ceiling fan.)
All of these are evidence that a baby is learning and gaining cognitive abilities.
Within the first few months of life, babies go through large growth spurts. They're fascinated by the world around them, and everything is new to them. They like to socialize and communicate with others.
It's possible that your kid is staring as an early form of communication with the vast universe around them.
Can babies sense evil?
I'm remembering when my two daughters, now 6 and 7, were just a few months old. “The adjective that quickly comes to mind is “delicious.” I often wondered, as any new parent would, as I spent countless hours adoringly looking at each of my daughters' pudgy cheeks and dreamy eyes “Can you tell me what's on your mind?”
According to researchers at Yale University's Infant Cognition Center (also known as Yale University's Infant Cognition Center), “Even as young as three months old, according to “The Baby Lab,” babies can differentiate good from evil. This week, a three-part series on NPR focuses on that research “Anderson Cooper 360,” which airs weeknights at 8 p.m. ET, is a show hosted by Anderson Cooper.
To the critics who argue, “But, but, but, but, but, but, but, but, “How can a baby tell the difference between a nice guy and a bad guy?” you might wonder. I understand. It clearly contradicts our belief that children are born with a blank slate and learn right from wrong solely from their parents.
The study, on the other hand, paints a different image. Puppets are used to demonstrate appropriate and inappropriate behavior. A puppet is attempting to open a package in one scenario. Another puppet, the “good” puppet, assists it in opening the box, while the “evil” puppet slams it shut.
More than 80% of the time, when that experiment is carried out, babies will sel “When given the option to choose between the two puppets, choose the “good” puppet.
Why do babies cry when they see a certain person?
It happens as your infant forms a healthy bond to people he or she knows, such as you. Because babies prefer familiar humans, strangers may lead them to cry or fuss, become very quiet, appear afraid, or hide.
Around the age of 7-10 months, a child's fear of strangers becomes increasingly severe. It could last a few months or go on for a long time. It lasts from 18 months and 2 years on average.
A 10-month-old baby who has been in child care since she was 6 months old, for example, may become angry if a new caregiver is assigned to the center. When the caregiver tries to remove her away from her mother or father, she may cry, bury her head in her mother's neck, or scream.
Can a baby forget his mother?
During a child's early years, tearful, tantrum-filled goodbyes are frequent. Many children develop separation anxiety around the age of one, becoming distressed when their parents try to leave them with someone else.
Separation anxiety is a common component of childhood development, although it can be distressing.
Understanding your child's situation and having a few coping methods on hand will help you both get through it.
About Separation Anxiety
Babies adjust easily to different carers. Separation anxiety is much greater in parents than in infants! Most babies less than 6 months acclimatize well to other individuals as long as their basic requirements are addressed.
Babies develop a feeling of “object permanence” between the ages of 4 and 7. They're coming to terms with the fact that things and people exist even when they're not visible.
Why don t we remember being a baby?
On the surface, it appears that we don't recall being babies since infants and toddlers' memories aren't fully developed.
However, kids as young as six months old can create both short-term and long-term memories that can last weeks, if not months. Six-month-olds who learned how to press a lever to run a toy train retained how to do so for two to three weeks after they last saw the toy, according to one study. Preschoolers, on the other hand, have the ability to recall events that occurred many years ago. However, it's disputed whether long-term memories at this age are actually autobiographicalthat is, experiences that happened to you at a certain time and place.
Memory capacities at these ages, however, are not adult-like; they continue to develop until puberty. Indeed, developmental abnormalities in basic memory processes have been proposed as a cause of childhood amnesia, and it's one of the finest explanations we've come up with so far.
Several brain regions are involved in these basic activities, which include memory formation, maintenance, and retrieval. The hippocampus, for example, which is assumed to be important for memory formation, continues to develop until at least the age of seven. We know that the three-and-a-half-year threshold for the onset of childhood amnesia alters with age. Adults have earlier memory than children and teenagers. This shows that the issue is more with retaining memories than with producing them.
This, however, does not appear to represent the entire tale. Language is also important. Children grow from the one-word stage of speaking to being fluent in their native language(s) between the ages of one and six, resulting in significant improvements in their verbal skills that coincide with the childhood amnesia period. Using the past tense, memory-related phrases like “remember” and “forget,” and personal pronouns like “mine” are all examples.
To some extent, a child's ability to express an event at the moment it occurs reflects how well they will recall it months or years later. This research was carried out by one lab group, which interviewed toddlers who were transported to accident and emergency rooms for common childhood injuries. Toddlers over the age of 26 months who could communicate about the experience at the time remembered it up to five years later, whereas toddlers under the age of 26 months who couldn't talk about it remembered little or nothing. This shows that if preverbal memories are not transformed into language, they are lost.
How stories make memories
Make up your own tales: To increase resilience and pleasure, try Expressive Writing or a Self-Compassionate Letter.
The majority of research on language's role in society, on the other hand, concentrates on a specific type of expression known as narrative and its social function. When parents talk about past events with their young children, they are inadvertently teaching them narrative skillswhat events are important to remember and how to arrange talking about them in a way that others can understand.
Reminiscing revolves around the social function of sharing experiences with others, as opposed to just reciting material for factual purposes. In this way, family stories strengthen the coherence of the story, including the chronology of events, their topic, and their degree of emotion, while also preserving the memory's accessibility through time. Stories that are more coherent are remembered better. Due to Maori parents' very elaborative method of sharing family history, Maori adults have the earliest childhood memories (age 2.5) of any group investigated thus far.
In different cultures, reminiscing has distinct social functions, which contributes to cultural differences in the number, quality, and timing of early autobiographical recollections. People in autonomy-oriented cultures (North America, Western Europe) report greater and earlier childhood memories than adults in relatedness-oriented cultures (Asia, Africa).
Cultural differences in parental reminiscence style predict this. Parental recalling focuses more on children's unique experiences, preferences, and feelings in cultures that foster more autonomous self-concepts, and less on their interactions with others, social norms, and behavioral standards. An American child, for example, may recall receiving a gold star in preschool, whereas a Chinese youngster may recall the class learning a particular song in preschool.
While there are still some aspects of infantile amnesia that we don't fully comprehend, researchers are making progress. There are, for example, more prospective longitudinal studies that follow people from childhood to adulthood. This aids in providing accurate recollections of occurrences, which is preferable than asking kids or adults to recall undocumented prior events. Furthermore, as neuroscience advances, more studies linking brain growth to memory formation will surely emerge. This should aid in the development of memory tests other than verbal reports.
Meanwhile, it's vital to note that, even if we don't recall specific events from our childhood, their accumulation creates permanent imprints on our conduct. The first few years of life are both forgettable and influential in forming who we become as adults.
Do babies sense bad vibes?
Yes, they are capable. And babies aren't the only ones who can sense our anxiety. It has an impact on them. It is contagious to be stressed. It's yet another reason to prioritize your own health and to de-stress before engaging with your child. Here's what every caregiver should be aware of.
Empathic stress: How social observation can raise your cortisol levels
You've probably had the experience of becoming uneasy as a result of someone else's tension.
Is this just a hysterical reaction? Is it just a flimsy psychological trick that Mother Nature has put on us?
Hardly. Veronika Engert and her colleagues discovered they could cause a coma in adults in a series of trials “people to experience a full-fledged physiological stress reaction” by simply asking them to watch someone else become agitated.
More than 200 people volunteered. They took turns sitting in an observation area, looking through a one-way mirror while their domestic partners went through a fairly stressful social situation while being judged on their mental arithmetic skills.
Just witnessing their partner under stress was enough to elevate their own levels of the stress hormone cortisol for 40% of the study participants. Even when the person being tested was a complete stranger, about 10% of the volunteers responded (Engert et al 2014).
“It was incredible that we were able to assess empathetic tension in the form of a considerable hormone release.”
Can babies detect good people?
According to a study in which babies saw characters being helpful or unhelpful, babies as young as six months can discern between good and negative people.
Social judgments were considered to develop alongside language between the ages of 18 months and two years, according to scientists. However, the findings show that the ability to make moral judgments is intrinsic rather than learnt from parents.
Professor Karen Wynn, a psychologist at Yale University in Connecticut who was part of the research team, remarked, “Here we have one component of what a complex system of moral judgment requires.”
The researchers looked at how six and ten-month-old babies reacted to scenarios including a climber attempting to conquer a slope. Two distinct shaped blobs aided or hindered the character, a circular blob with eyes. A helpful triangle aided the climber's ascent, while an unhelpful square obstructed the climber's progress. The babies had the option of grasping either the triangle or the square. The triangle was chosen by 14 of the 16 10-month-olds and all 12 six-month-olds. The findings were published in the journal Nature today.
An intuitive understanding of who follows the social standards and who does not, according to Wynn, would be a huge evolutionary advantage and crucial for the development of human sociality. It was remarkable, however, that such young babies could make such snap decisions.
Do babies prefer attractive faces?
Human neonates, even as little as a few days old, have been observed to favor attractive human faces. We investigated if this predilection is unique to humans. Domestic and wild cat (tiger) faces were preferred by three- to four-month-olds over unattractive faces (Experiments 1 and 3). When the faces were inverted, the preference was not detected, indicating that it was not caused by low-level image changes (Experiments 2 and 3). Furthermore, performance in a recognition memory task including attractive versus unattractive tiger face pairs was influenced by the spontaneous preference for attractive tiger faces (Experiment 4). The findings show that an infant's preference for attractive faces is due to general processing mechanisms rather than a specific adaption to mate selection.
Can babies sense parents fighting?
Our intense discussions are sometimes overheard by our babies. Is it possible for babies to tell when their parents are fighting? Is it obvious to them, or does it go unnoticed?
Babies can detect when their mothers are worried, according to study, and the tension is contagious.
Experiments also reveal that after seeing furious expressions, 6-month-old newborns become more physiologically susceptible to stressful conditions (Moore 2009).
As a result, it's possible that babies can detect when their parents are having a heated dispute, and yeah, it doesn't go unnoticed. Quite the opposite is true. They are aware of our anxiety.
It's difficult to know what's going on within a baby. They can't always tell us in words, and they don't always send us clear indications. Babies, for example, can be physiologically stressed while remaining relatively calm.
As a result, researchers use physiological measurements in addition to behavioral indicators.
Placing an electrode on a baby's chest and measuring small fluctuations in his heart rate while he breathes is a typical procedure.
Respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) is a type of variability that gives us a glimpse into the baby's parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us rest and recover from stress.
Babies who have been exposed to a lot of family conflict develop RSA patterns that are similar to those seen in persons with stress disorders and emotional issues (Mammen et al 2017; Porter and Dyer 2017; Moore 2010).
Their parasympathetic nerve systems appear to be having more difficulty relaxing, which could lead to behavioral, emotional, and physical issues in the future.
Then there's the picture that brain scan studies present. Could the stress of seeing parent disagreements affect an infant's brain development? It appears to be the case. The following are the specifics.
What sleeping babies hear
Alice Graham and her colleagues wanted to see if newborns' brains react to emotional cues differently depending on how much their parents fight.
The researchers gathered 20 couples with babies aged 6 to 12 months and asked the mothers to rate how frequently and fiercely they battled with their partners.
The researchers next used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the infants' brains (fMRI).
The babies were scanned while they slept since it's vital to limit physical movement to a minimum during an fMRI scan. They also heard a series of audio recordings throughout the scan, while the newborns were still sleeping.
The voice of a man uttering a succession of meaningless words was heard on each tape. However, the man's emotional tone differed from recording to recording. He sounded joyful at times. He sounded moderately enraged at other times. Or very enraged. Or it could be emotionally neutral.
The pleasant voice, for example, elicited more activity in different sections of the brain than the furious voice. That was true for all babies, no matter how much domestic strife their moms reported.
The researchers noticed a telling pattern when they compared the really furious voice to the neutral sound. The more domestic conflict a woman reported, the more her baby's brain reacted to the really angry voice.
The rostral anterior cortex, a region linked with emotion processing and frequently affected in persons suffering from stress disorders, showed a significant increase in activity in babies from high-conflict homes.
They also had increased activity in more basic areas of the brain, such as the hypothalamus, which guides and controls the stress response.
As a result, the babies from high-conflict homes had distinct brains. Angry tones elicited the strongest reactions in brain areas that process stress and emotion.
Are there any changes in the way different brain regions communicate with each other in such babies?
This is an important subject because we know that patients with mental health issues often have aberrant brain connection patterns.
There's evidence that teenagers with serious depression have more connection between the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and another brain region called the anterior medial prefrontal cortex (AMPFC) (Ho et al 2015).
So the researchers looked for this pattern in a second trial, and they found it: babies from high-conflict homes had more connectivity between these same brain locations (Graham et al 2015).
The findings are concerning, especially in light of what we know about early life stress in general: it puts babies at risk for emotional difficulties and stress-related disease. Perhaps these research provide a glimpse into how it all begins.
But can we conclude that overhearing heated confrontations at home is the cause of these brain differences? It's possible that something else is at fault.
Alternative explanations were discussed by the researchers. For example, in the second study, they took into account the effects of prenatal stress, which can have a significant impact on brain development on its own.
Furthermore, the researchers conducted a background check on the participating families and discovered no indication of physical abuse.
However, the researchers did not account for hereditary factors, which are undoubtedly important. And these are just two tiny research projects. They should be duplicated.
Nonetheless, I believe we have solid evidence to believe that frequent parent disagreements can affect newborn brain development. Social stressors can modify an infant's brain and stress response system, according to extensive rodent trials that adjust for heredity.
At the very least, these fMRI experiments show that certain babies' brains are more sensitive to the sound of fury than others. Even if this heightened sensitivity was due to anything else, we'd still have to deal with the fact that family conflict will generate hyper-reactive stress responses in these children.
The lesson is the same from a practical standpoint: we need to safeguard babies from overhearing heated discussions and fights.
So what can we do for babies who've been exposed to lots of family conflict?
This study should serve as a wake-up call to parents, not a message of despondency to families who have previously experienced conflict.
You should not believe your infant has been irreversibly damaged if he or she has been exposed to stressful situations before or after delivery. Not at all. If we provide the correct assistance, babies can be extremely resilient.
For example, evidence suggests that frequent, emotional touch can help young newborns recover from the consequences of prenatal stress (Sharp et al 2012; Pickles et al 2017). It may also aid in the reduction of postnatal stress.
Furthermore, it suggests that warm, sympathetic, and responsive parenting protects children from the detrimental impacts of growing up in stressful situations.
And, if their parents are patient, sensitive, and emotionally attentive, highly reactive, stressed-out babies have the ability to grow into extraordinarily well-adjusted children.
Why do babies fuss more with mom?
Children believe that they may let go and express their feelings while they are with their mothers because they know that their mother will make things better. This, in turn, leads to even more moaning. So, while your child may feel more at ease whining around you, keep in mind that this also indicates they feel protected.