I used to think that it was my maternal instincts that helped me figure out exactly what both of my girls needed when they were babies. I would wake up right before they started to cry because I could just sense that they needed me. In a room full of screaming and crying babies, I could tell you exactly which one was mine.
According to a new study published yesterday in the journal Nature Communications, it’s not maternal instinct that helps you decipher your baby’s cry, it’s experience. That means that dad can recognize your baby’s cry just as well as you can if he spends just as much time with the baby.
“Before this study it was thought that mothers were more able to recognize their child from their cries than the fathers,” said study co-author Nicolas Mathevon, a bioacoustician at Jean Monnet University in France. “Fathers are as good as mothers at this task and it’s just a matter of learning.
The researchers recorded different baby cries and then played them back for both moms and dads in France and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ninety percent of the parents were able to distinguish their child’s cry from the rest of the recordings. Dads were just as capable of picking out their baby’s cry just as well as the moms as long as they spent at least four hours a day with the baby. Those fathers that spent less than four hours did not do as well in picking out their baby’s cry. The study also tested moms that spent less than four hours with their child and they performed just as poorly as the dads that spent little time with their child. The findings suggested that it’s not maternal instinct as originally thought, but experience.
Although I definitely believe that mother’s instinct is something that is natural and helps us raise our children, I find it comforting to know that it takes quality time with our babies to really understand them.
More from Lauren on Baby’s First Year:
- Ditch the Baby Book and Display Baby’s First Year
- Shared Spaces: A Look into Avery and Harlan’s Shared Nursery
- My Favorite Photos from Avery’s 13th Month
- 10 Urban Moms to Follow on Instagram
- Best New Strollers: Spring 2013
- 10 Essentials for Traveling With Kids
- Avery’s Easter Weekend (PHOTOS)
- 5 Signs Your Baby Might Be Ready to Drop a Nap
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 Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram! Check out more of Lauren’s Babble posts at Being Pregnant and Baby’s First Year.