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Babies Know More About Empathy Than You Think

New research from the University of Washington for expectant and new parents

Vicky McDonald

Published on: July 27, 2018

Mom kissing baby

Good news for parents: Your baby really does love to be touched and may even appreciate you giving your partner a foot rub, too. New research from the University of Washington (UW) suggests that even tiny babies understand the importance of touch and human connection. 

With the use of new brain imaging techniques, Andrew Meltzoff (UW psychology professor and co-director of The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, I-LABS) and his team were able to see how a 7-month-old infant responds to touch.  

With the help of a magnetoencephalography (MEG) machine, the researchers discovered which parts of the brain lit up when the baby experienced touch. Interestingly, some parts of the brain lit up when the baby watched an adult’s hand or foot being touched too.  

“Before they have words for the body parts, babies recognize that their hand is like your hand, and their foot is like your foot,” said Meltzoff. 

It suggests that even very young babies understand touch and have empathy.    

“Long before babies acquire spoken language, touch is a crucial channel of communication between caregivers and babies,” said Meltzoff.

So even though your little one can’t talk yet, it shows how important it is to demonstrate your love to them and to those around you. 

Bonus: Going camping with baby this summer?

When you have a baby, you might think your camping days are behind you, but think again, as camping can be a fun getaway for you and your little one.

With a little planning, the whole family can benefit and enjoy some time in the great outdoors. Check out our tips for undertaking a memorable and relaxing camping trip with your new addition.

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