If you think you know the baby, think again. There's more to an infant than eating, sleeping, and pooping (though it may not feel like that some days). The baby is undergoing the most significant period of growth it will ever experience, learning at an almost exponential rate. Babies are complex, fascinating little creatures, and they are anything but ordinary.
Whether they come out with an oddly-shaped head or a port wine birthmark, every baby has more going for them than their adorable looks. They can do so much more than stick pennies up their nose and cry at two in the morning. Though they are in many ways helpless, babies are more clever than you think.
But what makes babies so unique? After all, there are four born every second. Babies are dime a dozen, aren't they? While this may be true, all babies have an impressive skill set that they use to navigate the first year. If we could perform comparable feats to babies, we would have super-strength and be considered geniuses.
This article explores 15 of the most intriguing facts for you to know about babies. Next time you hold your little one, think about this article and thank your lucky stars you're holding such a remarkable offspring.
15 One In Three Infants Are Born With A Birthmark
Should your baby come out with a birthmark, there's no need to worry. Birthmarks are incredibly common on newborns and the vast majority are harmless. In fact, most birthmarks will fade on their own as your child continues to grow.
Port wine stains are the most common birthmark, caused by abnormal clusters of blood vessels underneath the skin. These birthmarks may look scary, but they're absolutely harmless. If you're worried about your baby's birthmark, feel free to ask a clinician, but know that in most cases, the birthmark is nothing to worry about.
If your baby's birthmark begins later in infancy, you may want to get it checked out. Later-onset marks are, by definition, not birthmarks and could need medical attention. If your child's birthmark begins bleeding or growing abnormally, see a specialist to diagnose and treat the underlying problem.
14 Most Babies Are Born With Blue Eyes
You're in luck if you've always wanted an infant with sweet baby-blue eyes: most babies are born with blue eyes. During your baby's first year, their eyes may change color many times before settling down for good. Why does your baby's eye color shift so rapidly during their first twelve month? The answer lies in the amount of melanin in their iris.
Melanin is the pigment responsible for the color of your hair and skin, and it also determines your iris color. When your baby is an infant, their eyes' melanin levels are unstable and easily determined by light or other external factors.
Between six and nine months, you should be able to better predict what your baby's permanent eye color will be. Even then, however, don't be too surprised if your baby's eyes are blue one day and hazel the next.
13 Babies Are Born With Natural Swimming Reflexes
Even if your baby was bottom of the class at your rec center's "Mommy and Me" swimming sessions, they were born with certain reflexes that can make swimming easier. Because of the bradycardic response, babies automatically open their eyes and hold their breath when submerged underwater. Once they grow into toddlers, they lose this instinct and must be taught to swim.
Although the bradychardic response mimics swimming, newborn babies cannot swim on their own. This affect is more accurately deemed as a reflex than an actual skill, and the reflex diminishes as the baby grows older. Infants still require support and constant supervision while near water, as even an inch of shallow water can be a drowning hazard.
12 Babies Prefer Female Voices
Baby talk: like it or hate it, babies absolutely adore it. Why? Because when you talk in a higher, soft pitch, you are subconsciously mimicking a female voice. Babies are drawn to women's voices because it reminds them of their mothers. They see female figures as protective and safe, and they highly prefer a woman's voice over a man's for these reasons.
Although some worry that baby talk will inhibit your child's ability to talk normally later on, quite the opposite is true. Encouraging a baby's vocalizations with cooing and simplifying your words can help your baby adjust to language and pick up verbal communication easier.
11 Humans Are The Only Primates Who Smile Socially As Babies
Babies begin smiling at somewhere between six weeks and two months. Every giggle and toothless grin can be one of the most rewarding parts of parenting. Because smiling is seen as a sign of aggression or dominance in other primates, human babies are among the only infants to smile socially. In monkeys or apes, smiling is a survival instinct rather than a sign of warmth.
To coax a smile from your newborn, don't worry if it takes a little bit. You may need to make a few attempts to get a smile from your baby. Try a few different tricks to see what your baby thinks is funny: enlist the help of your spouse in the quest to tickle your baby's funny bone.
10 Sometimes Newborns Are, Well, A Little Funny Looking
Don't worry: you're not a mean mom if you think your baby's a little ugly. Newborns come out looking gross. If they experience trauma coming through the birth canal, their cone head may make them look like they're related to ET. Babies enter this world sticky, smelly, and a little bit discolored, yet we think they're supposed to come out as little angels.
Your baby will look more normal in time. Give it a couple of days for their head shape to set a little better, and give them a couple of baths to keep them squeaky clean. If your baby still has a face that only a mother can love, then it's a good thing you're their mother. Love your ugly-cute baby anyways.
9 Four New Babies Are Born Every Second
At the rate of four babies a second, over 135 million babies enter the world for the first time every year. These little miracles come into our lives through a variety of circumstances. Some are twins, some are only children. Some come into the world with loving parents, while others aren't born with the same privileges or affection that other infants get.
Even though so many babies are born each day, your baby is precious and a thing of beauty. Take care of them, and give them the care that they need every day. Your baby is so lucky to be born into a family that cares about them. Raise them well so that some day, they can help others who were not born into as accepting circumstances.
8 A Child's Self-Awareness Develops At Around Twelve Months
During your baby's first year of life, don't be surprised if they mistake the baby in the mirror for a new playmate. Until your child is between twelve and fifteen months, your baby will not recognize themselves in a mirror or see themselves as a separate entity from other people.
How do we know this? Many researchers have conducted the "rouge test" on small children to determine when self-awareness develops. Mothers wiped a smudge of rouge on their child's nose and placed them in front of a mirror. Babies ranging from twelve to eighteen months were capable of wiping the smudge off in the mirror while infants younger than this did not recognize the baby as themselves.
Once your baby hits the year mark, they begin to realize that they are an individual. They become more aware that their identity, needs, and desires are separate from those around them. Along with recognizing themselves in a mirror, other important developments include heightened empathy and new emotions such as embarrassment and envy.
7 Babies Learn Second Languages Remarkably Well
Now is the time to introduce a second language to your child, and you definitely should do so. Children who fluently speak two languages are at an academic and social advantage. Even though we are capable of learning a new language at any age, babies pick up new languages much more easily and can pick up a language swiftly.
Start while you're teaching your baby their first language by introducing another in small doses. As they turn two or three, teach them one word at a time and go easy on them as they learn their second language. Even a little progress helps, and they will thank you some day for teaching them such an important skill in childhood.
6 Babies, Like All Humans, Thrive On Affection.
Babies don't just want love: they need it to grow and stay healthy. With every smile or hug, you may wonder if your baby loves you as much as you love them. The answer is a resounding yes! To your baby, you are everything. You are their entire world just as much as, for the first year, they are yours.
Give your baby attention every day so that they feel loved and supported. Neglect during the first year of life can harm a baby's development and affect them for the rest of your life. Respond to their smiles with a grin of your own and give them plenty of hugs and kisses. Lucky for babies, they're adorable enough that we want to cuddle them as much as we can.
5 Babies Double In Weight During The First Five Months Of Life
Between five and six months, you can expect your baby's weight to double in size from their birth weight. This is the most rapid period of growth they will ever experience. You may wonder when the sweet little baby you took home from the hospital got replaced with this giggling, crawling kid. Cherish your baby while they're young. Growing up only gets faster from here.
Your little one needs all the nutrients they can get to grow healthy and strong. Stay away from internet diets aimed at infants or young children, as these can inhibit their growth significantly and even cause serious health issues. If your baby's a little pudgy around the edges, don't let it worry you: who doesn't love a pudgy baby?
Make sure that your baby is getting enough nutrients to grow to their fullest potential. If your baby is underweight or missing key nutrients, consider feeding them more often or talking with a clinician to meet your baby's dietary needs.
4 The More A Baby Communicates Physically, The Better
Before your baby can talk, they may be able to communicate with you through gestures or signals. Considering that only a small portion of communication comes through verbal comments, your baby should be able to convey certain ideas or wants to you at a young age. Look out for repeated gestures and see if your baby is trying to connect words to their signals.
Teaching babies to sign as infants is very effective, and they can pick up on symbols from four months onward (though they may not be able to respond for a few months). Give your baby a head start on communication by teaching them gestures for certain words. Once they start talking, their experience with sign language may help them pick it up faster.
3 Infantile Amnesia
The vast majority of people cannot remember anything before the age of three. While we don't know the exact reason, we do know that babies can learn and make decisions based on past knowledge. Some researchers believe that our brain stores certain kinds of memory--such as short-term memory or learning memory--but not long-term memory until later on.
Why? Baby brains don't function the same way as adult brains. Their minds are still developing, including the parts of the brain responsible for memory. While researchers aren't yet sure what is responsible for "infant amnesia," they expect that once the brain's memory is better developed, children are able to make and keep long-term memories.
2 Newborns Recognize Their Mother's Voice At Birth
Your baby will recognize your face within a few weeks of birth, and they will recognize your voice even faster. Infants primarily rely on voice and scent to set apart their mother from other women, and their strong sense of smell and hearing lends them the ability to recognize their mother's voice from birth (or, some researchers suggest, before then).
Before your baby was born, they heard your voice in the womb. Though muffled, they hear every coo and bond to you before they are born. After childbirth, once they become accustomed to the world, they imprint on their mother and latch onto her as a source of comfort. Before they can even see you clearly, they recognize your scent and voice, and they want to be around you.
1 The Baby's Name Really Can Affect The Rest Of Their Life
While you may want your baby to be special and separate from everyone else, what you name them really does affect them later in life. Because our personality is partially shaped by how others treat us, we may become very different people depending on what our names are. Unusual names, for example, are more likely to get in trouble and feminine-sounding male names are linked to emotional troubles later on.
So, go ahead, spend hours picking out a name. Don't feel guilty for "wasting time" instead of working or spending time with your child. Make it a good name. After all, your baby's entire future is on the line with this one name. Unless your absolutely sure that's what you want to name your baby, avoid the risk at all costs.
Babies are fragile, but they are also some of the strongest people on the planet. As they adjust to the world, their body helps protect them from perceived threats and bond. Your baby is a miracle, one that cries at night when Mommy and Daddy are trying to sleep, but a miracle nonetheless. Remember these facts while holding a baby and remember that you are holding a tiny miracle in your arms.