We teach our kids to speak as soon as we think they’re capable of understanding us, but did you know that babies don’t really need speech to communicate with each other? In a fascinating study by researchers at an Australian university, experts are saying that babies can form friendships and even make jokes with other babies without really talking.

For two years, academics studied how babies interacted with other babies through tiny cameras strapped to their heads. These cameras were only worn for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Set up to help researchers look at things from an infant’s point of view, the videos allowed them to give everyone a firsthand look at how babies speak to each other in subtle and non-verbal ways.

"We were very, very surprised to see just how sophisticated they were in terms of their social skills, their helping skills, in making sure they were inviting other children to be part of their group," says Jennifer Sumison, foundation professor of early childhood at Charles Sturt University.

Aside from making eye contact with others, babies also tend to use hand gestures to communicate with their friends. Some of the moments captured by the camera included two babies in high chairs switching their bottles playfully and one baby pretending to hand over a toy to another baby--only to snatch it back at the last minute. Another moment showed a baby comforting another child by carefully putting a see-through cloth over her eyes to make her feel protected.

Given these findings, if you're a new mom, you may want to find other new moms so your babies can have play dates together. After all, even though they may not have gotten the knack of communicating with adults just yet, it seems as though babies understand each other just fine.


For more studies on babies, try these:

For more on communication, check these out on FN:

(Photo by naoyafujii via Flickr Creative Commons)

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