Why Are Babies So Cute ?
You know how things are cute? Babies, cartoon characters, bunnies – all of them cute and adorable; except some babies right after their born, maybe.
There is a science to this and it’s rooted in evolutionary biology. For some time now, great minds have been thinking about why we humans have a tendency to find the youngest members of our own species – and even members of other species sometimes – heartbreaking adorable. They’ve come to a general consensus that it is in our nature to find things cute.
First, we should probably establish what makes things cute. That’s just what Austrian biologist and ethologist (someone who studies animal behavior) Konrad Lorenz did in the middle of the last century. When he wasn’t working as a Nazi psychologist at German concentration camps in WWII studying people of various combinations of races to determine their fitness for reproduction, Lorenz was dedicating himself to the study of what makes things cute.
Why Do Babies Look So Cute?
Scientists say that adults are evolutionarily programmed to find babies cute — nature’s way of ensuring that we care for them through sleepless nights and bouts of colic. But just what do we find so attractive? It’s the eyes, mainly. Research has shown that adults prefer faces with larger eyes over faces with smaller eyes. And babies have disproportionately large eyes for their head: in fact, by 3 months, babies’ eyes have reached their full adult width — and may look huge until the rest of their features catch up. Other traits almost universally perceived as cute include a large, symmetrical head and a small nose and mouth.
Why Do Babies Smile So Much?
Most parents won’t witness their baby’s first smile for 8 to 12 weeks. But usually by the third month, most babies will flash their first grin — and melt their parents’ hearts. These earliest smiles are probably unintentional facial movements, but our gushing responses to them virtually ensure we’ll see more of the same. For the preverbal infant, smiling provides a means to communicate: when your baby smiles and you smile back, you’re practicing the same type of back-and-forth exchange that happens later with language.
Why Do Babies Sneeze So Much?
Newborns breathe exclusively through the nose for the first couple of months — nature’s way of making sure their mouth is free to suckle, explains Vincent Iannelli, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Consequently, their nasal passages must be kept clear, and that’s where all that sneezing comes in. During the first days of life, babies sneeze to clear their lungs and nasal passages of residual amniotic fluid. After that, they sneeze to clear their nose of dust, or milk or formula.
Why Do Babies Cry Without Producing Tears?
Newborns have underdeveloped tear glands, which produce just enough tears to keep their eyes moist but not enough to spill over their lids when they’re upset, explains Dr. Iannelli, who is also the author of The Everything Father’s First Year Book(Adams Media). You won’t see tears running down the cheeks of most infants until they’re about 7 or 8 months old, he adds. The exception: babies with a blocked tear duct will regularly shed tears from the affected eye, even when they’re not crying, starting as early as 2 or 3 weeks of age. Blocked tear ducts, which prevent the normal nasal drainage of tears, are relatively common — some 5 percent of babies are born with at least one — but more than 90 percent unclog spontaneously within the first year.
Why Do Babies Drool?
Though it’s commonly blamed on teething, drooling usually starts around the second month, a good five months or more before most babies cut their first tooth, notes Jennifer Shu, MD, coauthor of Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality (American Academy of Pediatrics). This increased saliva production has less to do with baby’s teeth than with what he’ll soon be chewing.
Why Do Babies Spit Up So Much?
The good news is that most babies stop spitting up (or do it a lot less) as their stomach muscles tighten, they spend more time sitting up, and they begin to eat solid foods. In the meantime, as long as baby continues to gain weight and seems generally content, there’s no need to worry, even if he returns a portion of most or all meals. If, however, your baby spits up frequently, and is failing to gain weight or seems to be in pain or distressed following feedings, he may have acid reflux; talk to your pediatrician, who may prescribe an acid-reducing medication. But in most cases, assures Dr. Shu, spitting up is a laundry problem, not a medical one.