The baby laughter project appears to have an evil twin. This photoblog documents the many ‘reasons’ why toddlers cry.
“I wouldn’t let him eat his yogurt with a pizza cutter.”
Submitted By: Nick L.
Location: California, United States
“She can’t fit into Dora’s minivan.”
Submitted By: Natalie H.
Location: Alabama, United States
“One of our cats was in the kitchen, and she wanted him to be in the dining room.”
Submitted By: Aaron M.
Location: California, United States
Loads more here : Reasons My Son Is Crying.
The surprisingly serious science of laughing babies
Dr. Caspar Addyman, Birkbeck Babylab
The laughter of little babies is infectious, enchanting and may play an important role in their early development. Dr. Caspar Addyman is a psychologist who studies what it is like to be a baby. After testing hundreds of babies in his experiments he was able to conclude that it is clearly great fun being a baby. But this is something that science largely overlooks. Therefore, he launched the Baby Laughter Project to investigate the role of laughter in early life. Over a 1000 parents from more than 25 countries have completed a detailed online survey and many have sent us stories or videos of things that make their babies laugh.
In this talk Dr Addyman will present the results of his research and describe how it answers questions about of the purpose of laughter. How does laughter track mental development? Is there an evolutionary explanation for why we laugh? Is infant laughter a form of communication? What are the best ways to make a baby laugh? Was tickling babies the first ever form of comedy?
Dr. Caspar Addyman works at the Babylab at Birkbeck, University of London. He specialises in the study of learning in the first few years of life and has researched such topics as how we learn our first words and how our sense of time develops. Caspar has undergraduate degrees in mathematics and psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology from Birkbeck. Before moving into academia he spent 8 years working on financial trading floors, first as a trader and later as a software developer. He has a written a novel about a retired psychologist & a failed comedian. He has turquoise hair and lots of tattoos, many of which were stimuli in his experiments. He lives in Brixton and doesn’t do as much tai chi as he should. Further details on Dr Addyman’s research areas athttp://www.cbcd.bbk.ac.uk/people/scientificstaff/caspar
The talk will be in the basement of the Star of Kings.
There is a suggested donation of £10 on the day.
Concessions £ 8
Donations will go to the following charities
Kids Company http://www.kidsco.org.uk/
We provide practical, emotional and educational support to vulnerable inner-city children. We provide a safe, caring, family environment where support is tailored to the needs of each individual. Our services and support empower children who have experienced enormous challenges to lead positive and fulfilling lives.
Kidscape is committed to keeping children safe from abuse. Kidscape is the first charity in the UK established specifically to prevent bullying and child sexual abuse. Kidscape believes that protecting children from harm is key.
The Star of Kings
126 York Way
Kings Cross, N1 0AX
Oli Scarff came to Birkbeck Babylab earlier this week to take a few photos for CBS News. Here are a few:
These last two are from my latest time perception experiment:
You can see the rest at CBS Online
All images (c) Oli Scarff/Getty Images
Mind you, not everyone likes the idea of peering into babies brains: Touchez pas a mes pensées (in french)
I’ve just finished reading John Kabat-Zinn‘s book Wherever You Go, There You Are – Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. It contains a lovely passage about meditating with your baby.
When we had babies in the house, even the morning time was up for grabs. You couldn’t be too attached to anything because everything you set out to do, even if you arranged it very carefully, was always getting interrupted or completely thwarted. Our babies slept very little. They always seemed to be up late and to wake up early, especially if I was meditating. They seemed to sense when I was up and would wake up too. Some days I would have to push my time for myself back to 4:00am to get any sitting or yoga in. At other times I was just too exhausted to care, and figured the sleep was more important anyway. And sometime I would just sit with the baby on my lap, and let him or her decide how long it would last. They loved being wrapped up in the meditation blanket, with only their heads sticking out, and frequently would stay still for extended periods, while I followed not my breathing but our breathing.
I felt strong in those days, and still do, that an awareness of my body and my breath and of our close contact as I held them while we sat help my babies to sense calmness and explore stillness and feelings of acceptance. And their inner relaxation, which was much greater and purer than mine because their minds were not filled with adult thoughts and worries, helped me to be more calm and relaxed and present.
It is a lovely book that demystifies meditation. He takes a simple grounded approach that reclaims mindfulness from the airy realm of ‘spirituality’ and brings it back into the concrete here and now. He makes the case that meditation isn’t an escape from everyday reality but a way to embrace and accept it.
And there’s perhaps no greater need for that than when maelstrom of a little baby arrives in your life. But as John experienced it, babies can be little Zen masters. They will come into your life and turn it upside down. They will be relentless, demanding and surprising but will reward you by keeping you completely in the present.
Buddha Baby by Zen Brush on Etsy
Want to give your baby a head start then be sure to spend lots of time talking to him or her. I was once asked What are the most high-leverage activities I can do with my 1-2 year old to promote his mental and cognitive development?
It’s a crass way to ask a question that all parents want to know the answer to. As I said to that parent. “The secrets of healthy development aren’t secrets. Most important are a good diet, a rich and varied environment and LOTS of human interaction. Play games with him. Send him to nursery. Laugh and have fun.”
I should also have said “Talk to your baby”. An ever growing body of research is showing that the more words a baby hears the better it does in later years. Watching TV or eavesdropping on adults talking amongst themselves doesn’t have the same effect. As this short film from the Economist explains:
Smart talk: Early language and the brain (economist.com)
Update: Sorry for the autoplaying video. Blame the Economist.
You laugh more in company and even more with your best friends and loved ones. So the obvious question is, do twins laugh more than the rest of us? Let’s examine some evidence.
Lubabah and Zeyanah definitely seem to be having a lot of fun. Youtube has plenty of other laughing twins having just as much fun. Even some laughing quadruplets.
In our parental laughter survey, we asked how many times a day babies laughed. We had 17 sets of twins in our data and on average their parents didn’t report that they laughed more or less than other babies. On average they all laugh around 40 times a day.
But I’ve suspected that parents are largely guessing when they answer that question. For example, parents report that boys laugh more than girls. This might be a real difference but it also be a cultural projection based on expected gender roles.
One parent of twins in Venezuela wasn’t sure if she’d been accurate in her guess of how much they laughed. So the next day she counted. She got to 500 laughs and emailed me to let me know. Which certainly brightened my day and suggests that maybe happy twins are more than twice as fun. Do you know any twins, what is your experience? Are you a twin yourself, did you think laughed a lot as child?
Thank you to Lubabah and Zeyanah and their parents for sharing this video and to Alexandra and family in Venezuela (our thoughts are with you today )
How to Make a Baby by Canadian photographer Patrice Laroche, Sandra Denis and their daughter Justine.
There’s a video version too..
Tomer Ullman has a wonderful new theory of why babies cry. The reason? It made our savanna ancestors angry and helped them beat their competitors in battle. I’ll let him explain:
As you will have hopefully have gathered HE’S JOKING!!!
His presentation was the winning entry at the 2013 BahFest, A celebration of bad but funny hypoetheses. Here’s how the organisers describe the event:
The first ever Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypotheses (BAH!) was held on October 6th at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. It was the first of what we hope will be many celebrations of well-argued and thoroughly researched but completely incorrect evolutionary theory. Our brave speakers presented their bad theories in front of a live audience and a panel of judges with real science credentials, who together determined who took home the coveted sculpture of Darwin shrugging skeptically. And eternal glory, of course.
See more at BahFest.com
It seems that babies were a rich field for bad hypothesis. Here’s festival founder Zach Weinersmith’s own entry to the competition a incredible new theory of genetic dispersal through catapulted infants
Remember Dominic? He’s a world record breaker and the star of BBC’s coverage of our project. He’s an old friend of the Baby Laughter project. Well, not that old, he’s only 20 months old. But he was 3 and bit months old when we last heard from him. So that’s seven times as old as when he first appeared.
He’s also adding singing to range of talents.
Thanks once again to Dominic and his family for sharing their laughter.