Enjoy this video of 2 year old baby Finn screaming with delighted terror as he races along on his little bike. If anything, I’d say he wanted to go faster. And like his dad says, you can bet he will love rollercoasters when he is older.
Finn isn’t at all unusual in this. According to our research one of the best ways to make 3 to 5 month old babies laugh is to dangle them upside down. And we’ve all been a little scared to watch proud new dads throwing their giggling young babies high the air. So why do babies find delight in danger and revel in rough and tumble?
I don’t actually know. Partly it is that they don’t know to be afraid. But that same baby could be scared by a small insect or a rustling curtain in his or her bedroom. So that can’t be the whole story. I suspect it comes down to adrenaline. Excitement and fear both cause your body to react in a similar way, releasing a lot of adrenaline and getting your heart racing. It prepares you to react. When the situation turns out not to be dangerous and there is nothing to react to then there is a sense of relief and excess energy has to be expended somehow.
You laugh more in company and even more with your best friends and loved ones. So the obvious question is, do twins laugh more than the rest of us? Let’s examine some evidence.
Lubabah and Zeyanah definitely seem to be having a lot of fun. Youtube has plenty of otherlaughing twins having just as much fun. Even some laughingquadruplets.
In our parental laughter survey, we asked how many times a day babies laughed. We had 17 sets of twins in our data and on average their parents didn’t report that they laughed more or less than other babies. On average they all laugh around 40 times a day.
But I’ve suspected that parents are largely guessing when they answer that question. For example, parents report that boys laugh more than girls. This might be a real difference but it also be a cultural projection based on expected gender roles.
One parent of twins in Venezuela wasn’t sure if she’d been accurate in her guess of how much they laughed. So the next day she counted. She got to 500 laughs and emailed me to let me know. Which certainly brightened my day and suggests that maybe happy twins are more than twice as fun. Do you know any twins, what is your experience? Are you a twin yourself, did you think laughed a lot as child?
Thank you to Lubabah and Zeyanah and their parents for sharing this video and to Alexandra and family in Venezuela (our thoughts are with you today )
Remember Dominic? He’s a world record breaker and the star of BBC’s coverage of our project. He’s an old friend of the Baby Laughter project. Well, not that old, he’s only 20 months old. But he was 3 and bit months old when we last heard from him.
So that’s seven times as old as when he first appeared. He’s also adding singing to range of talents. Thanks once again to Dominic and his family for sharing their laughter.
Babies will laugh at almost anything as this video of 5 month old baby Liliana shows. The video was sent by her Auntie Karina, who says “my sister found out just how much laughter the shake of a bag could bring to her 5 month old baby girl. Her laughter is the sound of pure happiness”
As adults we find it harder to laugh and be so happy with the world. But fortunately, babies are there to remind us.
When young humans see themselves in the mirror, more often than not they point and laugh. Young dogs and cats bark and scratch, as this video shows. At least i think those are all puppies and kittens. From what I remember of our family pets, cats and dogs get used to their reflections. Is that your experience?
Maciej & Ola sent us this video of their 4 month old baby Frederick seeing himself in the mirror for the first time. He’s not entirely sure what’s going on but he likes it! At four months old Frederick is too young to start to work out that the baby in the mirror is him. But he knows there is something unusual happening here. To me it looks like Frederick keeps waiting for the baby to interact with him and then gets surprised by the synchrony. He won’t be consciously aware that this charming stranger is literally mirroring everything he does. But he is aware it is not the normal way things are. Turn taking is built into the foundations of all human interaction. Conversations and non-verbal interaction alternate between partners. Parents start doing this with their babies from the very beginning. It’s a subtle but ubiquitous feature of the world that even a four month old might have picked up on. So an interaction like this which breaks that rule must seem strange, but nice! Although not all babies are so quick to accept this new phenomena..
The Baby in the Mirror is also the title of an excellent memoir of infancy by British developmental psychologist Charles Fernyhough. As suggested by it’s US title “A Thousand Days of Wonder”, it is a reflection on the first three years of the life of his daughter Athena. Fueled by his novelist’s power of description and parent’s pride, he poetically combines his scientist’s sense of wonder with her own insatiable childish curiosity. I can highly recommend it. Here’s a short extract about babies and mirrors:
Infants are fascinated by mirrors, of course. Charles Darwin noted that his baby son Doddy, at four and a half months, would repeatedly smile at his own reflection and that of his father, appearing to take them for separate beings. […] Doddy … would have had little in the way of self to be a stranger to. He wasn’t yet aware that he had one single, indivisible presence, and so he couldn’t have been surprised to see it multiplied in this way. Two months later, Doddy’s understanding of mirrors had taken a step forward. Facing the mirror in front of his father, he now seemed to realise that his father’s reflection was connected to the person standing behind him. When Darwin made a face in the mirror, Doddy turned to look at the man, not at his reflection. We saw Athena doing something similar at the same age. […] She understood something about the mechanics of reflection, that what you see in the mirror si not just an extension of the world but a special version of it. She was far from having a full understanding of it, but the looking-glass world was becoming real. Knowing that she understood something about mirrors made her reaction to her own reflection that much more interesting. Here she is at the same age, being held up close to the wardrobe mirror. Her eyes are wide. She stares at her reflection and then darts a couple of glances into the corners of the mirror, as though establishing the limits of this weird version of reality. Then she reaches forward excitedly, patting at the glass with both hands. There is a gleeful shout, a smile of pleasure, but her eyes are still active, looking the reflected stranger up and down in what could almost be taken for suspicion. She stays rapt like this for quite a while. She may be noting the connection between her own actions and those she sees reflected: when I bat my hands forward like that, the baby in the mirror does it too. From the inside, from the sense that she has of her own body’s movements and position, she has information about what she is doing; and now the mirror refects the same information back at her. She can imitiate its imitations. She recognises that this specular creature has something to do with herself, and no one else. At the same time, she knows that it is not her; it exists in a different location, flat against our old walnut-wood wardrobe, and it does its corresponding at a distance.
Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.
Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.
Analytics cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.
Preference cookies enable a website to remember information that changes the way the website behaves or looks, like your preferred language or the region that you are in.
Unclassified cookies are cookies that we are in the process of classifying, together with the providers of individual cookies.
Cookies are small text files that can be used by websites to make a user's experience more efficient. The law states that we can store cookies on your device if they are strictly necessary for the operation of this site. For all other types of cookies we need your permission. This site uses different types of cookies. Some cookies are placed by third party services that appear on our pages.