Dear parents, when you tickle your newborn, the experience for them isn’t quite as you would imagine it to be. Namely, according to research, infants younger than 4 months feel the wiggling and touching of their feet without directly connecting the sensation to you.
Andrew Bremner of Goldsmiths University of London decided to conduct a research in order to deduce whether young babies can locate the origin of the touch they’re feeling. According to Bremner and his research team, the answer to the question is no.
They discovered this by something that might appear paradoxical at first. Hence, when adults cross their hands or feet and someone touches them, they usually make mistakes in identifying the source of the sensation. Six-month old babies do the same mistake. However, the four-month old infants guessed where they have been touched when their fingers were crossed.
According to Bremner, before six months of age, babies perceive touches just on their bodies, not in the external world. Their research was consisted of tickling four and six-month old infants with mechanical vibrations. The younger babies moved their tickled foot 70% both when their legs were crossed and uncrossed. On the other hand, the elder babies were able to identify the source of the tickle only 50% of the time with their feet crossed.
All in all, younger babies perceive touches just as touches of the body, not in relation to what they’re seeing, hearing, or smelling. The research team wants to conduct further research to explore why and how infants develop a sense of themselves in the world and the implications for the babies’ understanding.