Babies are remarkably social creatures, as you’ll know from their desire to hang out in the middle of the night.
If you’ve spent much time with more than one baby at once, you’ve also probably seen them interacting from fairly early on.
Researchers have observed babies doing so from as young as six months old. They interact by ‘vocalising’ together (making noises), smiling at each other, and touching – even playing footsie! What’s more, research has shown that when adults play with babies and teach them to take turns, the babies try out this sharing behaviour they’ve learned with other babies.
Now research is suggesting that babies can do even more than this. A recent and very cool study showed that babies show empathy—and can even calm each other down.
The study looked at eight month old babies in groups, and how the other babies in a group reacted when one got upset. The other babies responded by looking at the upset baby, and trying to interact with him or her. A third of the time, the reactions of the babies in the group actually helped soothe the upset baby.
We think this is pretty great, a baby helping another baby emotionally.
It’s also surprising because, until now, babies were not thought to develop what’s called ‘pro-social’ behaviour until their second year of life.
Turns out, babies benefit from social interaction earlier than was previously believed.
(If you’re reading this at 2.a.m… you knew that, right?)
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