I'm Not as Much of a Baby as You Think; Tradition Has It That Babies Don't Worry about Much. but Research Shows Their Emotions May Be More Grown-Up Than We Realise

Article excerpt

Byline: By Samantha Booth

BABIES never seem to have much on their minds.

As long as they are fed regularly, changed when they need it and have a shoulder to vomit on when the occasion arises, we think of them as being pretty happy.

But scientific studies show that infants as young as four months can experience adult emotions.

Psychologists now believe babies could be feeling empathy or even jealousy.

They also think babies can suffer stress through missing an absent parent.

One study has shown that babies younger than six months react to different facial expressions.

Another research team found that when a baby is played recordings of other young children crying, they will turn on the waterworks.

Yet when they are played tapes of their own screaming, tears dry up.

New York University psychologist Professor Martin Hoffman says the research proves that 'rudimentary empathy is in place right from birth'.

Scientists hope the research could lead to earlier diagnoses of autism and some learning difficulties.

We asked writer Lisa Adams, mother of Rebecca, 19 months, if she agreed with the findings.

FACIAL RECOGNITION From four months old, babies start to use a part of their brain called the fusiform gyrus which allows them to tell the difference between strangers and carers.This is key to building trust.

Lisa said: 'Rebecca definitely recognised faces from very early on, especially me, her dad and gran.

'But it also quickly developed into her not wanting to go to people she was less familiar with

MENTAL IMAGES

Babies use the front part of their brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex to remember faces and images, which is why they can experience stress from as young as eight months old when parents break up.

Lisa said: 'I would definitely agree with this as Rebecca would get quite fretful at around this age if we were away for any length of time

MEMORY

A part of the brain called the hippocampus drives a baby's memory and is one of the most crucial parts of the brain. …