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Arguing Affects Your Baby’s Brain, Even When You Least Expect it

iStock_000004122839XSmallI remember the first couple of weeks that we brought our first daughter, Harlan, home from the hospital were full of stress and exhaustion. It was unlike nothing that I had ever experienced before. Being up at all hours of the night really took a toll on both my husband and myself. Rather than keeping it to ourselves, we would just take it out on each other.

We’d argue, bicker, just the littlest thing could set us off. We needed rest, but our new little bundle of joy just didn’t want to give us any. I never thought that our arguing could effect her at such a young age. After all, she was merely weeks old.

As she got older and more aware of her surroundings, the stress faded and the arguing calmed down. Our marriage wasn’t perfect, but if we did have a quarrel we would make sure to go to another room or wait until she was sleeping. We never wanted to argue in front of her.  I always figured that if she was sleeping, it wasn’t making an impact on her. Apparently I was wrong.

A new study soon to be published in Psychological Science says that the slightest stress can affect a baby’s brain, even when they are sleeping. The study, conducted by the University of Oregon scanned babies (ages 6 to 12 months) brains to measure their brain activity. The babies heard both angry voices and happy tones. The results showed that the babies’ brains showed distinct patterns of activity when they heard the different sounds. “The findings suggest babies are aware of parental conflicts and that these conflicts may affect how the infants’ brains handle stress and emotion,” said Alice Graham , the lead author of the study.

If there is anything that I’ve learned in my nearly four years of motherhood it’s that babies are like a sponge. They absorb everything. Harlan will say things back to me that I thought I said under my breath and while she wasn’t listening. But she was. She always is.

This study was a big wake up call for me. Although my husband and I don’t argue a lot, we do sometimes. I never want those “sometimes” to affect my daughters. Even while they are sleeping.

What do you think of these findings?

 

More from Lauren on Baby’s First Year:

Read more from Lauren at her personal blog, A Mommy in the City, where she chronicles her life living in New York City with a suburban mentality. For more updates, follow Lauren on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram! Check out more of Lauren’s Babble posts at Being Pregnant and Baby’s First Year.

 

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