How newborns really see our faces

If you want your baby to see your expression, just lean closer. It sounds obvious, but according to a study by scientists in Sweden and Norway, the maximum distance for a newborn to distinguish whether you are smiling or not is 30 cm (12 inches); that 30 cm corresponds to the distance between a mother and her nursing baby. However, if the distance increases to 60 cm (24 inches) or beyond, things get blurry and your baby can’t tell what emotions are showing on your face.

 Baby Sees

It’s well-known that newborn babies have poor eyesight, don’t discriminate between colours and have very low visual acuity, study co-author Dr Svein Magnussen, told The Huffington Post.

However, newborns may be able to imitate adults’ facial expressions, although this doesn’t mean they understand what a particular expression means, Dr Magnussen, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Oslo, said.

The scientists used video recordings of faces that changed their emotional expressions continuously. Then, the same recordings were shown to newborns: their reaction to the facial expressions in the video was an indicator of whether they could see the image or not. Generally, babies were randomly responding to the picture placed beyond the distance of 30 cm (12 inches), but at the shorter distance, the number of correct responses increased.

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