Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Babies know when a cuddle is coming

Date:
June 25, 2013
Source:
University of Portsmouth
Summary:
Babies as young as two months know when they are about to be picked up and change their body posture in preparation, according to new research.

Three of the babies in the study.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Portsmouth

Babies as young as two months know when they are about to be picked up and change their body posture in preparation, according to new research.

Professor Vasu Reddy, of the University of Portsmouth, 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."

The findings could also be used as an early indicator of some developmental problems, including autism. It was reported by researchers in 1943 that children with autism don't appear to make preparatory adjustments to being picked up.

The researchers, who included Dr Gabriela Markova of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, and Dr Sebastian Wallot of the University of Aarhus, did two studies, one on 18 babies aged three months, and a second on ten babies aged two to four months old.

In both, 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.

"In other words, they rapidly become more adept at making it easier for parents to pick them up," Professor Reddy said.

The mothers in the study were asked about their babies' physical responses before the tests and some reported their babies stiffened their legs or raised their arms in preparation for being picked up, but video footage watched frame by frame revealed physical adjustments happened to a greater degree and more subtly than mothers had noticed.

The researchers suggest more research now needs to be done to examine the extent to which infants discriminate between different kinds of actions directed at them, between familiar and unfamiliar actions, and how infant anticipation of these actions is influenced by the different maternal styles they each experience.

The research is published in the latest issue of the journal Plos One.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Portsmouth. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Vasudevi Reddy, Gabriela Markova, Sebastian Wallot. Anticipatory Adjustments to Being Picked Up in Infancy. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (6): e65289 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065289

Cite This Page:

University of Portsmouth. "Babies know when a cuddle is coming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130625073554.htm>.
University of Portsmouth. (2013, June 25). Babies know when a cuddle is coming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130625073554.htm
University of Portsmouth. "Babies know when a cuddle is coming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130625073554.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain Surgery in 3-D

Brain Surgery in 3-D

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Neurosurgeons now have a new approach to brain surgery using the same 3D glasses you’d put on at an IMAX movie theater. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins