Newborn Learning Starts Immediately After Birth, Study Finds

Newborn Learning Starts Immediately After Birth, Study Finds

Researchers from the University of Dundee have discovered newborn babies may have better communication skills than previously thought.

In an article published by The Conversation, University of Dundee researcher, Emese Nagy, explained that babies are learning just minutes after birth.

Newborn Learning Starts Immediately After Birth, Study Finds

Many people mistakenly assume newborn babies are too young to gain much from social interactions, but researchers found the opposite to be true.

The researchers investigated the social interactions of newborn babies by introducing them to ‘still face’, a technique used with older babies.

The researchers engaged with the babies for three minutes, then froze with a motionless expression for three minutes before re-engaging with the babies.

Previous studies have found ‘still face’ to be unsettling for older babies, with many crying or becoming upset when exposed to the technique.

Nagy and her fellow researchers used this technique on newborn babies, some as young as two hours old. Babies this young are not used to social interactions, but they appeared to be in distress when exposed to ‘still face’.

In fact, those newborn babies reacted just as we would expect older babies too, despite not having little experience with previous social interactions.

The technique was repeated the next day and researchers noted the newborn babies were still distressed but had learned to seek out further eye contact.

Some of the babies in the study were just one day old during the second exposure to ‘still face’ and yet they had already learned something and put it into practice.

This is something experts have been previously unaware of, with many assuming young babies are incapable of learning and attempting to control social situations.

So, that tiny baby in your arms might just be a genius, after all, but you already knew that, right?

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Fiona Peacock CONTRIBUTOR

Fiona Peacock is a writer, researcher and lover of all things to do with pregnancy, birth and motherhood (apart from the lack of sleep). She is a home birth advocate, passionate about gentle parenting and is also really tired.


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