5 Ways Babies Are Way Smarter Than You Think

Say What!? 11

babyWho knows what's really going on inside babies' heads? Parents and scientists alike are obsessed with cracking the bambino code. It's hard to tell, of course, because babies can't talk. But the more clever ways we find to peek into the minds of babies, the more astonished we are at how much they seem to know and how much they can do. For example, did you know babies can tell when you're fake smiling? Here are five surprising things babies know.

1. As early as 18 months, babies know when an emotion fits with an experience. They can tell when you're trying to mask feelings of distress, or when you're fake-smiling through a negative experience.

2. Babies recognize their mother's voice from the womb. It's part of the work brains do while preparing to learn language -- babies are taking in speech patterns of their mothers. They may know the difference between familiar and unfamiliar words.

3. By 6 months babies know the difference between good and evil. Apparently your moral code isn't all nurture -- a recent study suggests it might be hardwired into our brains. Babies in the study showed a strong preference for "good" or helpful characters in a puppet play over "bad" or harmful characters.

4. Babies are born knowing how to swim, some people say. At least, babies seem to know not to breathe in when their faces are underwater.

5. Babies know math. As early as 5 months old, babies have a rudimentary understanding of simple addition and subtraction.

What else have you been surprised to learn that babies already know?


Image via Arman Zhenikeyev/Corbis

baby development


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Robin Hartman

wow, babies know math. i think that's just silly.

adamat34 adamat34

Math??? Really? If they know math....why are we boring our children with it??? Hmmmmmm

Choco... Chocodoxies

The math discovery doesn't shock me at all. When my mother was pregnant with my brother, and he would kick once and my father would push back once. Then he would push twice, and my brother would kick twice. Then he would push three times, and he would kick three times. This went all the way to four. In utero, my brother could recognize a pattern, or "count", to four. 

nonmember avatar amanda

I saw a doc about these topics. It's interesting stuff. The math thing was basically putting one object down and then putting up a screen. If they put another object behind the screen the babies knew there should be two. So if they faked out the babies, so that the next object was not actually put with the others before the screens were lifted, the babies reacted differently. It was pretty cool. It taught me a game to play with my own baby!

Tracey Collier

Ever heard about baby sign language? Babies have more language ability than waht we give them credit for. Their small muscle control lags so the take a long time to speak but they are perfectly capable of communicating via sign language. I thought this was bull until I saw my granddaughter use it and to top it off, she added some of her own signs that she made up herself.


Shannon Carter

I loved that my baby boy knew my voice at birth. When the doctors removed him from my belly my husband got to hold him first, he brought him to my face so I could console him. He stopped crying the second he heard me talk, that just made me cry and it made me cry again talking about it lol.

Jennifer Thomas

Yep, I was about to mention the sign language thing. I worked in an infant room for a couple years and we spoke to them with sign language. They could tell us more food, hungry, thank you, please...I'm sure there was more but I can't remember off hand. It was great!

nonmember avatar Robert Carey

Not only do they recognize their mother's voices from the womb, but given a chance they can learn Dad's voice as well. When my wife was pregnant, I read out loud every night with my head right next to her stomach. Once the baby was big enough we could actually see him move toward the side that I was on at story time. At birth he seemed to recognize my voice almost as well as Mamma's.

Andre... Andreamom001

Babies in the womb can even learn to recognize a story that is read to them often--and prefer it to other stories, even when the same person reads it.  (That was a pretty cool experiment I learned of!).  Babies are born with all kinds of skills and abilities we don't give them credit for.

Desiree Vernotico

For the many people who are people of faith and are familiar with one of the most well known facts in the Bible, that fact being that what goes on in this world is spiritual warfare not human warfare. Our bodies are just coverings of our spirit. Babies are pure of spirit and not yet corrupt and that makes them excellent judges of character. Just think of times when you have seen a baby not want to go to someone. What are they sensing? Dogs too! This world is one of good versus evil. When a good person hears about something horrible or something bad is done to them, what gets hurt? It is the spirit of God in you. How about good things, they feel so wonderful, that too is the spirit of God in you. People can destroy my body, but they can never destroy my belief or spirit.

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