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Babies know when a cuddle is coming!

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
Babies know when a cuddle is coming!
Its been a week since my last blog! Quelle horreur! I've been way busy with baby whispering and my poor little blog got neglected. So here's a nice start to the week and an insight into the smart mind of a young baby.

I've always said never underestimate a baby. They're way smart than we are as adults! And lo and behold here is some new research that backs up my thoughts.

Babies as young as 2 months change their posture in preparation for a pick-up. They are pre-empting what their care giver is about to do.

baby cuddle

Professor Vasu Reddy, of the University of Portsmouth (UK), has found most babies aged two to four months understand they are about to be picked up the moment their mothers come towards them with their arms outstretched and that they make their bodies go still and stiff in anticipation, making it easier to be picked up.

This is the first study to examine how babies adjust their posture in anticipation to offset the potentially destabilising effect of being picked up.

Professor Reddy said: “We didn’t expect such clear results. From these findings we predict this awareness is likely to be found even earlier, possibly not long after birth.

“The results suggest we need to re-think the way we study infant development because infants seem to be able to understand other people’s actions directed towards them earlier than previously thought. Experiments where infants are observers of others’ actions may not give us a full picture of their anticipatory abilities.”

It is thought from previous research that babies who are later found to have autism do not make these preparatory adjustments.

In these studies babies were placed on a pressure mat which measured their postural adjustments during three phases: As their mothers chatted with their babies; as the mothers opened their arms to pick them up; and as the babies were picked up.

The results revealed infants as young as two months made specific adjustments when their mother stretched her arms out to pick them up. These included extending and stiffening the legs which increases body rigidity and stability, and widening or raising their arms, which helps to create a space for the mother to hold the infant’s chest.

Between two and three months of age the babies’ gaze moved from mostly looking at their mother’s face to often looking at her hands as she stretched her arms out towards them.

The results reveal two important findings – first, that from as early as two months babies make specific postural adjustments to make it easier to pick them up even before their mother touches them. And second, it appears that babies learn to increase the smoothness and coordination of their movements between two and four months, rather than develop new types of adjustment.

The babies are actually helping the parents when they are ready to be picked up. Way smart!

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