What Your Baby Knows at Birth: Facial Recognition

Category: Newborns

As soon as your baby is born, she probably knows more than you give her credit for. Newborn studies bring to light what your baby’s mind is capable of.

 

WORDS CHRISTEL GERALYN GOMES

 

Facial Recognition

 

In his book, The Mind of Your Newborn Baby, David Chamberlain, a Californian birth psychologist tells us that infants as young as nine minutes old are able to single out normal-looking faces “in a parade of face-like designs”. He explains that these newborns will “give significantly greater attention to the normal faces”.

 

Chamberlain suggests that babies have an innate ability to recognise the human face. He asks, “Having never seen one, how do they know which of the designs is closer to the real thing?”

 

 

In a similar study, newborns seem to be able to recognise their mothers

very quickly after birth. When presented with big photos of women, 

the babies find and track the faces of their own mothers.

 

 

Yet another experiment in Boston had a group of mothers wearing face masks and remaining silent during a breastfeeding session on the seventh day after delivery. The babies were reported to become visibly upset. “They changed positions and looked away from their mothers,” Chamberlain writes.

 

On top of that, “after seeing the face mask, babies in their cribs increased their surveillance of the environment as if they were anxiously checking for other strange developments. They went to sleep more rapidly as if escaping to a more pleasant world.” He adds that during the session, the babies took less milk, were fussier and cried more.

 

Photo by Carlo Navarro on Unsplash

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