A baby looks at novel objects and then decreases their gaze upon them as they become more and more familiar with it. With this ability, learning and memory associated with that object can occur.
As caregivers it is our involvement that will make a difference. Responsive social interaction is critical for the baby to maintain interest in the object. Show them again what initially intrigued them. Stimulate their gaze endurance. Helping a baby sit upright, when they are too young to do so themselves, accelerates learning by making it easier for them to see and become engaged.
A baby is mesmerized by their surroundings–new objects, new people, new places. They watch with keen attention. Babies are busy developing their cognitive capacities by recognizing whether what they are seeing has already been seen before. Beyond just seeing the object of their interest, they learn by touching and mouthing it. Assistant professor Rebeca J. Woods of North Dakota State University found that when babies sit up, unaided or with assistance, the posture is fundamental to how they learn. By 6.5 months old most babies are able to sit unsupported, this allocates more of their time to discovering what’s new rather than work on staying upright. With babies a month younger, helping them sit upright proved beneficial in sparking their ability to tell objects apart from one another by using patterns. Woods concluded that: “Helping a baby sit up in a secure, well-supported manner during learning sessions may help them in a wide variety of learning situations, not just during object-feature learning,”
But how much are they learning by looking before they’re half a year old? “The link between looking and learning is much more intricate than what people have assumed,” says John Spencer, a psychology professor at the University of Iowa. Caregivers undoubtedly influence where their baby looks, and thus learns. Professor Spencer created a model of this behavior by examining infants from 6 weeks to one year of age. Through thousands and thousands of simulations, Spencer noted that a baby looks at novel objects and then decreases their gaze upon them as they become more and more familiar with it. When this ability is not apparent, learning and memory associated with that object cannot occur. As caregivers it is our involvement that will make a difference. Responsive, rather than unresponsive, social interaction was critical for the baby to maintain interest in the object–when they looked away, the caregiver reintroduced it. This was so even for the youngest of infants tested. Fellow researcher Sammy Perone explained the results saying, because of the responsive interaction babies “learned about new objects more robustly, more quickly, and are better learners in the end.”
These studies are convincing evidence that responding to our babies by dancing with them does more than excite them physically. From the safe perch of our arms they are ready to gaze upon all that is new: to learn and to remember.
When sharing the latest findings in infant development we like to address all caregivers of infants. Indeed, fathers take note. Research at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and published in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry, found that father’s who received a nasal spray of oxytocin increased their attachment behavior toward their baby. Oxytocin is a small protein-like molecule used by neurons to communicate with each other. What this research found was that fathers given the spray increased their oxytocin level 10 fold, and their 5-month old infants also had a similar increase in their levels. Fathers were much more social engaged with their baby and increased the amount of touch they offered. Their baby’s behavior also changed with a marked increase in social gaze and exploration of their surroundings. So dads (and all caregivers), it’s time to pick up your baby and dance—the touch is contagious and so important for baby and you.
Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-12-babies.html and http://alturl.com/3ux4o and http://alturl.com/u8izj