Babies Can't Catch a Yawn? We Put Theory to the Test

Baby Yawn

I don't know about you, but there is a whole lot of yawning going on in my house. Pretty much morning, noon, and night. I would consider myself to be an expert in the subject of being tired and yawns. You know that thing that happens when you are sitting next to someone who yawns? The mysterious phenomenon that's referred to as "contagious yawning"? Almost everyone can catch a yawn -- even dogs. The exception? Babies!

A new study has revealed that babies and young children are immune to catching yawns until they reach the age of 5 years old.

I know I've seen my baby yawn more times than I can remember, so I decided to put this study to the test:


I waited until my husband was right in the middle of a complicated story about his day at work. I tilted back my head and let out a long and very loud, dramatic yawn. I did it one more time and sure enough, he was yawning. It worked with my 5-year-old too: He couldn't resist either. He caught it.

But the baby? No deal. I tried during his bath when I had his undivided attention. I tried to make him yawn while we were looking at books and I was sure he was nice and warm and cozy. I saved my best yawns for our nightly pre-crib snuggle time in his rocking chair, but not even that could coax a yawn from him in response to my own.

Isn't that unusual? If you consider how babies are smart enough to recognize a mother's voice as soon as they are born? Or how they can instinctively breastfeed? Babies have enough intelligence to communicate through cries but something in their infant brains don't recognize something that all humans and even some animals will do with a yawn?

Every mother reading this just realized that they can't use that trick to get their babies to fall asleep anymore. Oh well.

Did you know babies couldn't catch a yawn? Do you ever act sleepy to try and get your baby to nap?


Image via fumanch00/Flickr

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