Tiny babies may only recognise their mum’s face front-on (and NOT side-on)

Posted in Newborn.

A new study has revealed that younger babies have trouble recognising their mother’s face unless they’re witnessing a frontal view, and researchers suggest these findings will encourage more mindful connections between parents and infants.

Front on is best!

Testing a group of babies each month during the first three to eight months of their life, researchers realised there were some marked differences between how younger babies and older babies respond to their mums.

“Adults and children easily recognise faces from both the frontal and profile views, whereas newborn babies do not,” findings from the study explained.

Looking at the brain activity of babies who were in their first months of life, and comparing them to tots that are a little older, they found that the infants responded very differently.

“The brain activity of babies tells us if they recognise a face,” Dr Hiroko Ichikawa from Tokyo University of Science said Science Daily reports.

“Responses to profile faces were weak at three months of age,” Dr Ichikawa continued, “but increased more during the period from three to eight months of age compared with those of frontal faces.”

Read more about the science of parenting:

Look at moi, look at moi …

The research showed that by around five-and-a-half months of age, babies begin to recognise the profile view of their mother’s face. The researcher’s findings provide insight into how we bond with young babies and also hint at how technology may interfere with this process.

When we turn our faces away from babies – perhaps to scroll through our phone, for instance –  this research suggests that it may be more impactful than we might imagine. 

“Lately mobile phones have become popular, and we are aware of it every moment,” Professor Ryusuke Kakigi of the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, National Institutes of Natural Sciences who worked on this study said. 

“Mothers caring for their babies are no exception. However, younger babies do not recognise the face in profile. When we communicate with younger babies, we should look straight at the babies’ faces.”

How interesting, right? Of course, it’s a very small study group … and we’ve decided this applies to fathers and carers, too! Face forward, everyone! 


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