It's possible for all of us to discover a new thing, or even dozens, every day. For us, this is just a first-person novelty, but for babies, if recorded then its instant internet virality. The announcement of a tiny particle won't crack a million views, yet every documented infant landmark discovery can potentially break YouTube, and there's many reasons for this. The fact we weren't conscious for our own early defining moments certainly makes us feel a connection, and this helps us emphasize with something we see as profoundly natural and fascinating, especially as we get older and have kids of our own.


As well as delving into the science in this blog, we're presenting 8 examples of babies discovering things for the first time, explaining why they react the way they do, and offering a hilarious video demonstration for each!

#1 Sour Food

Amidst all those colourful metaphors on Masterchef and other TV cooking shows, its weird to think that we only really have five different tastes: sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, sourness and the Japanese loanword amami (a pleasant savoury taste). Apart from being able to taste salt until 4 months old, babies can experience all of these, however they react far more negatively to (most, but not all) bitter and sour substances than adults, leading to those hilarious grimacing faces that have populated the web. Interestingly, studies show that you can increase a young child's liking of sour foods by combining it with something sweet - a great way to broaden their diet early on!

#2 Control (over TV's etc.)

Believe it or not, there's actually been a fair bit of research done (that you can read on the BabyCenter Blog) as to why children can figure new and unfamiliar gadgets so much better than the rest of us! But what about when a baby first discovers their interaction with technology actually does something? As seen in the GIF (we couldn't find the original video, sadly), the reaction can be quite amusing. Affordance - the relation between us and objects - and its relationship to infants has long been studied, but as of yet the research into how that these interactive screens affect the brain is still underway. We must mention, of course, that most experts recommend that babies under two have no exposure to screens; touch or otherwise.

#3 Smells

Odours are a crucial way to transmit information about the world to newborns, long before they have other ways of exploring their surroundings. Whether its about finding food, bonding with parents or, as you can see below, learning the musk of Dad's well-worn socks, there's a number of reasons why babies seek out their local vicinity of smells. Needless to say, it's the distinctive scent of their mothers and those from the breast they react most strongly and familiarly to. Surprise surprise!

#4 Fireworks

As unintuitive as it sounds, fireworks aren't necessarily something you and your baby should avoid. The bright lights and noises are an exceptional sensory treat for developing little ones, and whilst the infant in the video below certainly seems floored by the spectacle in front of them, as long as they aren't overwhelmed or frightened then there's no reason to panic. If they don't seem to be handling it too well, just calm them down, and make a relaxed getaway. In relation to sound, make sure you're not too close to the fireworks, or perhaps also get them a little pair of earmuffs (sadly these are only good for babies older than 6 months).

#5 Math

It's the dream of many parents to discover their little one has an Einstein-worthy ability to perform at maths. Forgetting that not even old Albert could achieve such high levels at such young an age, what do infants know about numbers? Until the 21st century, the standard answer would have been nothing, but newer research suggests they're more than capable of recognizing the difference between two numbers, keeping precise track of small numbers, and even doing simple subtraction and addition problems. The video below is a glimpse into "baby number sense", but even if the psychology stuff is a bit foreign, the glimpses of a baby reacting adorably to coloured dots should peak anyone's interest.

#7 Shadows

We never really got the whole idea of Peter Pan parting ways from his shadow, until we saw the hugely hilarious montage of babies linked below. Many toddlers in particular find their own shadows hugely interesting (if yours does, we highly recommend moving your shadow over it and watching their reaction!), and the reason is because we aren't born with an inate understanding of "fields" and how they work. Interestingly, while shining a light will make your baby positively animated, shadows more often than not will give them pause - the former entices them to explore, the lattter heightens curiosity...

#6 Themselves!

Lastly we come to the long-awaited moment of every parent: the mirror test. Reflective glass is oddly a child's favourite play toy. Whilst infants find nearly every face hilarious, nothing compares to the fun had looking at their own reflection. Not only that, but it's more than proven to help them learn to focus, track images, and promote social and emotional development. And of course, you can wait for that magical moment where they realize the friendly face they've been hanging out with all this time is actually the one on them!

What's one of your baby's big first discoveries that you can't help but share? You can do so, by the way, in the comments below, or over at our Facebook page, on Twitter or via Google+!


Post By Graham

Graham Ashton