Babies born with ability to communicate

Babies are born already communicating and with functioning social skills, according to new research by Scots scientists.

Rather than arriving in the world as a "mass of confusion" academics at Dundee University have discovered that newborns, in fact, are immediately able to engage actively in relationships with the people around them.

The findings stress the importance of how parents and carers engage with children from day one, the researchers said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A new film will be shown in Dundee this weekend demonstrating the latest findings.

The film will make the case that, from birth, the way adults communicate with babies has an impact on their long-term development.

The Connected Baby will be premiered on 25 June, at Dundee Contemporary Arts.

A DVD of the film will be released later this year, with a limited number of copies available free to the public.

Using insights from scientific studies of infant psychology, the film demonstrates how babies come in to the world already communicating.

The work was produced jointly by Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, a senior lecturer in developmental psychology at Dundee University and Jonathan Robertson a Fife-based independent filmmaker.

Dr Zeedyk said: "At one time, we believed that babies were born into a mass of blooming, buzzing confusion. Science has come a long way since then.

"We now have a mass of findings, from both psychology and neuroscience, which show that babies come into the world already emotionally aware of and connected to other people.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"And we've realised that the emotional responses they receive back from other people actually mould the pathways developing in their young brains."

The funding for the film has been provided by a Public Engagement Grant from the British Psychological Society.

Dr Zeedyk said: "This knowledge is fascinating, and it's also important. It means that the way we engage with our babies, from the moment they are born, has an impact on their long-term development."

One of the parents participating in the film said: "When I saw the footage, I could not believe how attentive my baby was.

"I could see every little nuance. I think I hadn't noticed this so much before, because it happens so fast in real time. It's like a new world now.

"Just watching the film has helped me understand him better, and made me more confident."

The film includes detailed commentary from some of the leading infant researchers in the UK, along with extensive footage of mothers, fathers, and grandmothers engaged in playful interaction with their youngsters.

Dr Zeedyk added: "Interest in the early years is now huge, in a number of countries across the world.

"We've come to realise that we can better tackle many of our current societal challenges by giving closer attention to babies' emotional needs."

Related topics: