Psychological research: winter babies crawl earlier than summer babies

Psychological research paper: are there differences in crawling age between winter and summer babies? baby-brain.co.uk. Psychological perspective, resource and blog on motherhood

Crawling baby

Psychological research paper: I saw this paper here, about crawling, thought it looked interesting:

Babies Born in the Winter Start Crawling Earlier Than Those Born in the Summer

Study shows a seasonal effect on the pace of motor development in babies

 

Babies born between December and May (“winter” babies) were found to start to crawl earlier compared to those born between June and November (“summer” babies – although November is bit a bit winter-ish if you ask me, but hey-ho). The study involved motor observations at home when babies were 7 months old, and following the babies up when they started crawling. Parents were also asked to record the stages in their babies’ development.

The average age at which the babies started crawling was 31 weeks. But while the babies born in the winter (who started to crawl in the summer) started to crawl at an average 30 weeks, those born in the summer (who started to crawl in the winter) began crawling at an average of 35 weeks, with no differences noted between the boys or the girls or in the initial style of crawling (belly crawling or using hands and knees).

They also used a measure that assessed 4 different positions: Prone (on the stomach), supine (on the back), sitting, and standing – the overall scores the babies got on this assessment was higher for winter babies, but, there were no significant differences in scores between the winter and summer babies on the scores for the supine position, sitting, or standing.

So what do the researchers conclude?

According to the researchers, the findings strengthen the assumption that there is a window of opportunity for starting to crawl and stress the effect of the season on the start of crawling.

The current study took place in Israel. They talk about the seasonal effect because other studies where there is quite a difference between seasons have found similiar results, e.g. in Denver, Colorado and Osaka, Japan. But, but a study that took place in Alberta, Canada, didn’t find any seasonal effect. Despite winters being “long and cold” there, the researchers write that the environment in the house is very similar all year round because of winter heating.

They write:

“Although the winter in Israel is comparatively mild…. it turns out that it nonetheless influences the motor development of babies because of the differences between summer and winter in Israel,”

⇒ So why does season and seasonal effects seem to be relevant to when babies start to crawl?

The study notes that:

“The season influences the babies’ experiences in a number of ways, including

  • layers of clothing that are worn

  • the opportunities babies are given to spend on the floor on their stomachs, and,

  • the hours of activity and daylight

Awareness of the seasonal effect is important so that parents will give their babies proper movement and development opportunities in the winter as well,” 

Ooooh I see, so it’s not necessarily anything inherent about winter vs summer children, but about environmental factors and what is going on in the baby’s home and environment when they are developing and reaching the age that they might start to develop crawling skills.

Those born in winter will approach crawling ready age in spring/summer where there might be more opportunities to go out, have more hours of day light in which in play, less restrictive or thick clothing on so that they can practice movement more freely, etc.

psychological research: Do babies understand speech?

baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource perspective and blog on motherhood and babies infant speech verbal understanding

Do babies understand speech?

I saw this interesting research paper today (1) about whether babies as young as 6 months understand that speech is used to communicate information (rather than random, interesting sounds that come out of our mouths).

 

→ Babies at 6 months appear to understand that speech transfers information between people

Some people might think – but of course! Others might think, wow, that’s early to understand such a thing.

 

 

 

The study also mentioned that:
  • Previous research (2, 3) has shown that 12 month old children can understand that speech transfers information, even when the speech is unknown or a new experience for them.
  • By 6 months, babies prefer speech over other sounds (4)
  • They also associate speech as coming from people, rather than other animals, for example (5)

 

What the experiment did:

The researchers looked at:

  • Whether 6 month olds could recognise that speech can communicate something about an object.
  • In the experiment the baby watched an actor reach for one of two different objects. There was also a second person present. Next, the actor could no longer reach the objects, but the second person could
    • so they either “spoke” to the person (they actually spoke a nonsense word, not a real conversation)
    • or made a non-speech communication (a cough).
  • The second person would then pick up one of the objects (there was a “target” object and a “non-preferred” object)
  • The results showed that babies looked at the actor for longer when they reached for the non-preferred object than the target object when they made the nonsense word, but not when when they coughed.

The study concludes that at 6 months, even though babies have a very small receptive vocabulary, infants have some abstract understanding of the communicative function of speech. This understanding may help with their development of language and knowledge.

Conclusion
Six-month olds infer that a vocalization that takes the
form of speech, even without any previously established
meaning, can communicate information about an object…….

 

…… even before knowing many words, infants can already use their understanding of the abstract role of speech in communication to evaluate the outcome of communicative interactions. (pg7)

The main points:
  • babies understand that speech is used to communicate and has a communicative function before they build their vocabularies and start to speak.
  • understanding that speech is used to communicate may happen before the child develops language, and this understanding may also provide a mechanism for early language acquisition:
  •  Babies start to learn quite early on that speech transfers information and may use this abstract understanding to learn about the meaning of individual words (6)

 

interesting!

 

References:
  1. Vouloumanos, A., Martin, A., & Onishi, K. H. (2014). Do 6-month-olds understand that speech can communicate? Developmental Science, pp 1–8
  2. Martin, A., Onishi, K.H., & Vouloumanos, A. (2012). Understanding the abstract role of speech in communication at 12 months. Cognition, 123 (1), 50 – 60. 
  3. Vouloumanos, A., Onishi, K .H., & Pogue, A. (2012). Twelve-month-old infants recognize that speech can communicate unobservable intentions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 109 (32),12933 – 12937.
  4. Vouloumanos, A., & Werker, J.F. (2004). Tuned to the signal:the privileged status of speech for young infants. Develop-mental Science.  7 (3), 270-276
  5. Vouloumanos, A., Druhen, M. J., Hauser, M.D., & Huizink, A.T. (2009). Five-month-old infants’ identification of thesources of vocalizations.  Proceedings of the National Acad-emy of Sciences of the United States of America,106 (44),18867-18872.
  6. Waxman, S.R., & Leddon, E.M. (2002). Early word learning and conceptual development: everything had a name, and each name gave birth to a new thought. In U. Goswami(Ed.),The Wiley-Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitivedevelopment (pp. 102-126). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell
For further references in relation to infant cognition and communication see this page here from the infant cognition and communication lab

Toy tray play

toy tray play baby

We had some fun today putting some of the Little Lovely’s toys on a large tray lid and letting him explore them all and push them around of the tray. Toys included a variety of textures, shapes and sound making items, and objects to mouth. It seemed to entertain him for a while! It was probably a novel experience for him as his toys and items are not usually presented to him like this. They are either on the floor, in a box or part of a treasure basket.
Rotate and alternate the toys for something different each week or day.
baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource, perspective and blog on motherhood baby toy tray play

Having fun with toys presented on tray

 

food glorious food

baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource, perspective, blog on babies and motherhood. weaning tales, baby food, highchair

Baby at the table

So the Little Lovely (LL) has been trying out solids for about 2.5 months now. He is regularly eating a meal or two a day, more like two meals actually. I was unsure of how much milk to give him on top of this and whether to drop a milk feed and replace it fully with a solid meal. He seems to have a very good appetite and, other than making some faces at the first few bites of new food, he seems to eat anything he is offered.

 

The weaning literature seems to say stuff like “don’t worry about portion sizes at the moment – your baby will tell you when they have had enough” – and other things like the start of weaning being more about baby trying out and tasting different foods rather than about giving solid food for nutritional purposes. That’s all well and good, but LL will eat A LOT of anything he is offered and usually stops only once the food has run out. So, for example, if I offer him a 120g pouch of food he will eat it all, and eat any additional food that I offer afterwards. I can’t find anywhere how much in one meal an 8.5 month old is supposed to have, because it usually says the usual about “your baby will tell you when he’s full….etc”. Well, ok so am I supposed to stuff him with food until he’s sick? because that’s what it feels like will happen if I keep feeding him.

baby-brain.co.uk weaning tales psychology perspective & blog on motherhood, babies

More Food Please

 

Anyway, I called up the NCT breastfeeding helpline to speak to someone about whether I should drop a milk feed and just have LL on one morning and one evening feed a day (2 feeds/day total). They were very helpful. They told me that he should have 4 feeds a day and will need approx 600ml of milk (formula or breastmilk), and even when he is one year old will still need a pint of milk a day, although at that point he could have cow’s milk. She said about weaning not being meal replacement but about being complementary to the milk, and over time the percentage of food to milk will change, with him having more food and less milk, but for now he gets his main nutrition from milk. She was speaking from a generic perspective, however, and said things that I don’t really think apply to LL such as about baby not eating that much at the moment etc, and that he needs calcium and the like. I told her that he ate a 90g pot of yoghurt today, so would that give him enough calcium? I asked. She thought it would.

He has also increased in weight from the 50% percentile at birth and the first 2 months or so, up to I think above the 90th centile, although I haven’t had him weighed for a few weeks. So, I’m still not sure about portion sizes and want to ensure he isn’t eating too much seeing as he needs 4 milk feeds on top of it!

Anyway, for dinner today he had butternut squash and pear. He seemed to like it. lots left over for the freezer.

baby-brain.co.uk psychology resource & perspective on motherhood and babies, and blog. weaning tales. baby food

Butternut squash and pear home-made baby food

comments off

We are back! I’ll be back to the posting soon. I’m just posting this to say that I’ve turned off comments because I keep getting spam and highly irritating comments advertising about 20 links and pointless products.

Dear spammers………..do you see any spammy, advertising, link saturated comments on my posts? NO?! REALLY?! so then why do you post and think that I am going to approve such comments?

If anyone has a genuine comment to make I would be really really interested in reading and posting it. So in the meantime, to prevent me wading through all the spam, please email me at emm@baby-brain.co.uk if you would like to comment or ask a question in relation to any posts, or even just in general. I will get round to turning comments back on in the future i’m sure, when I am in a better mood to deal with all the spam

 

holiday

Sorry for lack of recent updates and posts but Baby Brain is away! The little lovely and I will get back to it very soon. Have a good summer everyone

Don’t play with your food! Food sensory play

spaghetti food sensory play infant/baby. baby-brain.co.uk psychology perspective, resource, blog, motherhood and babies

Spaghetti food sensory play

Don’t play with you food! Or in this case, do. Taking inspiration from all the sensory play ideas on Pinterest, including some that utilize interesting materials such as gelatin for sensory play, I decided to try out some food related sensory play ideas.

 

Read the full story: See what the Little Lovely got up to when we introduced him to some pasta here, from the “let’s make stuff” page

I’m a Tourist Baby

New page added about our tourist adventures. This is relevance to the wellbeing and mental health page where I discuss various activity ideas for fun times but also to reduce cabin fever and increase mood. Be a tourist in your own town, or actually go somewhere and be a tourist, with or without baby.

Introducing the Adventures of Tourist Baby! Here’s one pic from our recent adventure, see the tourist baby page for more, and more to come as we continue our tourist adventures!

Tourist Baby visits Kensington Place, London. Outside the gates for Prince George's 1st birthday!

Tourist Baby visits Kensington Place, London. Outside the gates for Prince George’s 1st birthday!

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