A little bit of causal hilarity from Rory and family. Babies need to spend a lot of time learning about cause and effect. Things that we take for granted only because we learnt it so young. Things like the fact that some objects are soft and some are hard. The second ones are more fun to bang on the floor. But they fall to the floor if you throw them out of your highchair. And if you do someone will pick it back up for you. Learning that one thing leads to another needs a lot of repetition and a lot of trial and error, so much the better if it is fun for everyone.
Here’s what Chrystyan has to say about Rory’s experiments
What made your baby laugh?: Baby Rory laughs as Daddy and her play with the light switch. She hasn’t learned to turn it on yet, but she can certainly turn it off!
How old is your baby?: 11 Months
Who else was present?: Mommy, Daddy & Baby Rory Any other comments:
We’re doing a lot of family videos, our little girl is such a ball of hilarity. She finds the weirdest things funny and loves to get a catch in her stomach. She’s a daredevil, she is. This was just too good to pass up. Please help us spread her around, her laughter has brought us joy and we’re sure it’s going to make you smile!
This certainly challenges my ideas about why babies might find this funny. My initial thoughts was that babies were surprised that a solid object the paper could be broken into pieces. Researcher Rene Baillargeon has found some evidence that babies as young as three months have some sense of ‘naïve physics‘. They seem to understand that objects are solid and things fall to the ground. But maybe it is simpler than that? Perhaps, the babies just think the sound is funny. Certainly, my results so far suggest that babies this young have a very simple sense of humour that’s all about physical sensations, above all else they like tickling, raspberries and other silly noises. Maybe, ripping paper just sounds funny? Maybe it is just that mummy and daddy are funny whenever they do something new and unexpected? In baby science we always have to consider the simple explanations, because we mustn’t forget how new, strange and overwhelming the world is in those first few months.
And, with your help, maybe we can test this theory. Perhaps you could try ripping up things that don’t make the same noise (slices of bread or sliver foil perhaps?) Maybe you could try ripping the paper behind your baby’s back so they can hear the noise but not see the paper. Please, send us your experiments.
Thanks again to Dominic, Lindsey and Anthony for this lovely surprise.
Rule 1. No puns.
Rule 2. No puns.
Rule 3. No puns.
Why am I telling you this? Well babies aren’t big fans of puns either. But, just like John Cleese, they do like grown ups being silly. Here we see 5 month old Isabella laughing at her mummmy shaking her head. Why is this funny to a baby? Precisely because it is not something she sees her mummy doing normally.
I bet Isabella would find this hilarious:
Thank you to Isabella and her family for sharing the video.
Babies laugh a lot so it is not surprising if they laugh at seemingly strange things. But who or what is really amusing them? In this clip 9 month old Kelly is laughing at her father stripping paint from a windowsill with a coin. Now that’s a strange thing to do so perhaps Kelly finds the actions and sounds funny in themselves. But if you watch carefully you will see that she is mostly laughing at her daddy. Each time she looks back to him to see if he’s going to do it again. She thinks he’s hilarious and he’s certainly playing up for his audience.
The great thing about babies they can turn anyone into a successful comedian. With effortless charm they have grown adults doing wonderfully silly things.
Babies laugh at lots of things we wouldn’t expect them to. 50 million people have wondered why baby Micah laughed at tearing paper. The most common explanation I’ve heard is that Micah probably laughs at everything. Micah does seem to be a very giggly baby, but do other babies find tearing paper funny. In science we don’t like rely on a single example, so I am grateful to David Green for running an experiment on his daughter Lily (5months) to see what she thought of tearing paper. As you can see, David, Lily and Lily’s mum replicated the original finding. Thank you for the data.
Mind you, I’ve still no idea why babies find tearing paper so funny. More data would be good so please feel free to try this on your baby and send me your findings.
Laughter is a two-way street. It isn’t long before laughing babies start clowning around, trying to make us laugh. They’re pretty good at it too. Although they do have a tendency to laugh very hard at their own jokes. Here we see one year old Callan playing the clown for his mum, dad and granddad.
Thanks to Callan’s uncle Danny for sending us the clip.
We’ve probably had this one before but a friend just sent it to me again and it’s definitely worth a second go. And when I took a closer look I noticed something new. I like how the baby’s laughter stops completely dead once the bubbles are gone but then laughs just as hard the next time. That’s a bit weird if you think about it. At least if you imagine it from an adult’s perspective.
But as everyone knows, babies absolutely love repetition. They can play the same game over and over again, listen to the same nursery rhyme, or ask for the same story or DVD more times than would try the patience of the Dalai Lama.