10 Little Known Facts About Your Baby
Allison Bush | Aug 29, 2012
Ever wonder what your baby is thinking? Or what some of their odd behavior means? We may now have some idea, thanks to a slew of new brain research techniques. Let’s take a look at some lesser known facts about baby cognition and what’s going on behind all the gibberish and drool-filled smiles.
Babies develop a sense of their native tongue as early as three months in utero. With mom’s voice transmitted through the lungs, babies begin to distinguish their native tongue from other languages. Up until their first birthday, when the cortex is developing, babies can pick up new words and sounds effortlessly. After age one, it gets more difficult. Also, all languages are equal as far as difficulty level.
Babies are actually more observant and mindful than their adult counterparts. Instead of focusing on just one thing, babies and young children have the ability to take in many different aspects of their surroundings. Being able to sharply focus can help adults complete a task, but it can be limiting if you’re trying to solve a complex problem.
The prefrontal cortex is one of the last areas of the brain to develop, and it’s also responsible for allowing us to focus our attention and to think abstract thoughts. Turning off this area of the brain and retreating to your mind as a child may be more beneficial–especially if you’re a creative person.
An experiment at Johns Hopkins University found that improvising jazz musicians showed dramatically reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex.
Sense of smell
Babies have an extraordinary sense of smell and, at birth, are already drawn to the scent of breast milk. Just in two week’s time, a baby can also smell the difference between mom’s milk and something foreign.
Newborn babies won’t cry tears for at least three weeks because their tear ducts are not yet formed. Tears contain stress hormones and so crying is a way of helping him or her calm down (and to let you know they’re frustrated or distressed about something).
Tearless crying most likely means the matter isn’t urgent, but it could sometimes signal something more urgent, like dehydration.
In your baby’s first year, her brain will double to become half its final size. Also, at no other time will so many neuron connections be made.
According to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, children who are hugged, coddled, and nurtured from birth have a hippocampus 10 percent larger than other children whose mom’s were rated not as nurturing.
Babies spend most of their sleepy-time in REM sleep (the period during which we dream), whereas adults spend only 25 percent of their shut-eye time in this sleep stage.
What’s happening during this time? Lots of brain development and happy dreaming–babies don’t have the capacity for nightmares yet.
Research from New Zealand’s University of Otago challenges a U.S. study that suggested babies as young as six months are able to determine the difference between good and bad. The researchers found that “perceptual events” were driving the infants’ choices, not necessarily a “moral compass.” For example, babies favored a toy that was bouncing, regardless of whether it was the “helper” toy or the “hinderer” toy.
Gibberish is good! Michael Goldstein, a language development researcher at Cornell University, says that gibberish or babbling is the “acoustic version of a furrowed brow.” In other words, it means your baby is thinking, aware, and focused.
It’s important for parents to engage their baby when they hear these sounds because it means he is ready to learn.