What you need to know about how babies think
By Cheryl Harbour, editor of My GRANDbaby and author of Good to be Grand
According to research conducted in recent years, here are some of the ways babies think:
1. Babies are particularly interested in faces. They like the contrast of skin and eyes and hair and mouth – and they prefer faces to other contrasting objects.
2. When looking at photos, they prefer the photos of people who are the same gender as their primary caregiver.
3. Laughing is a form of socialization for babies. So when they laugh, they may not actually “get” what’s funny, but it shows they are having fun.
4. They seem to recognize – and react more to – sounds they heard when they were in the womb, such as familiar voices and certain music.
5. Babies are born imitators.
6. Babies prefer their native tongue.
7. Babies stay more engaged when they see something unexpected, something that doesn’t act the way they’ve seen it act before. Dr. Sue Hespos, Principal Investigator with the infant Cognition Lab of Northwestern University, has said, “Babies aren’t concerned with earth-shattering questions, but they are thinking a lot about how objects behave and interact.”
Another of the leading researchers into how babies think is Dr. Alison Gopnik, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley (and a grandmother!). Her studies (see video) have led her to conclude that babies are actually a lot like scientists: they observe, experiment, formulate theories, test those theories, and draw conclusions. In fact, she says, scientists and other adults could take a lesson from babies because babies are fully conscious and open to new experiences.