The importance of newborn eye contact can never be overstated. Your baby is beginning to communicate and slowly understand the world around them. Moreover, what’s more precious than engaging with a baby? As a parent, having the first eye contact with your baby, is one of the most treasured experiences. This moment of recognition is rewarding for the both of you and in countless ways.
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The first time a newborn has eye contact usually occurs within the first 6 – 8 weeks of a baby’s life. It goes without saying that, from this moment on, a parent wants to engage their baby’s gaze at every opportunity. Whether you’re feeding them, having playtime, or singing a lullaby, eye contact with your baby becomes increasingly rewarding.
Previous research and studies have shown us that when a parent or caregiver looks into a baby’s eyes, they bond. In the below mentioned study, both babies and adults’ brainwaves were recorded and measured during 2 sets of controlled communication experiments. Although small, the study produced compelling results from both the babies and adults.
It´s a fact that, as humans, we have a brain that promotes group living. We are social beings. Studies have proven that as adults, our brain waves synchronize and share information during communication. A small study conducted in 2017 showed that eye contact with babies also increases the exchange of information between adult and infant brains. This helps your baby to develop their communication skills and for you both to foster a deeper social connection.
The study was conducted to determine whether eye contact had a positive impact on babies’ brains in direct communication. We are very much aware (and scientists have established) that adults communicate better when there is direct eye contact. How many times have you sent an email or text message that has been misconstrued by the receiver? When we have face-to-face interactions, it makes it easier for us to interpret the message and comprehend the person’s intentions.
Our brains share a connectedness and synchronicity; they are primed to communicate with each other. This study proved the same processes take place between adult and infant brains. And is starts from the moment that your baby recognizes you for the first time.
In the first study, 17 babies were shown 3 videos of adults singing nursery rhymes. In the first video the adults were looking directly at the camera. whereas, in the second video the adults were giving no eye contact at all. The third had the adults gaze towards the camera, but with their heads turned to the side at a pre-determined and measured angle.
This study used an EEG (electroencephalography) to monitor the adult’s brainwaves during the recording of them singing and the baby’s brainwaves while they watched the videos. The fascinating results showed that direct eye contact with the babies solicited a dramatic increase in brainwave activity. However, there were no significant changes to the adults’ brainwaves as they weren’t directly in the baby’s company.
The second study took the experiment further by introducing 19 babies to the same scenario. This time with the adults singing in their presence. Conducted using the EEG and under the same strict 3 parameters, each baby was sung to directly, indirectly, and at a side glance. The results were even more astounding. Not only was there a greater increase in the baby’s brain activity, but there were increases in the adult’s brainwaves too.
When the measurements were compared, they clearly determined that eye contact with baby positively increases brainwave activity. Furthermore, the increase in the baby’s brainwave activity was far greater when the eye contact was face-to-face. And adults reap the benefits too.
These results conclusively show that, from being newborn and that first moment of recognition, your baby is learning the systems and bonds of communication. These are essential connections their brains need to make for their continued growth and development. Such results infer that the increased brain activity in adults is a fundamental and necessary response for this to happen.
Not only did the above study record amazing measurable results from participants’ brainwave activity. It observed marked changes in actual behavior too. The study found that eye contact with babies while in the same room prompts more verbal responses. The researchers conducting the study concluded that direct eye contact between a baby and an adult increases and strengthens neural connections when communicating.
What is the best way for parents and caregivers to help the development of their newborn babies? The answer is: spending time engaging with them. Every moment you have to spend one-on-one time together will not only benefit you both, but help to build a strong bond and integral communication skills.
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