The newborn senses: What can babies feel, see, hear, smell, and taste?

© 2017 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved How do newborn senses compare with our own? Babies don’t see colors quite like we do, and their vision is blurry. They have more trouble picking out speech from background noise. Yet newborns are fascinated by the visual world, and they show remarkable abilities to Read More »

Infant toilet training: The scientific evidence

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Widely practiced in traditional cultures, infant toilet training is becoming more popular in Western countries. But what are the pros and cons of early training? How do you actually do it? And what does science tell us about the development of bladder control? If you grew up Read More »

Baby sleep deprivation: How to tell if your baby isn’t sleeping enough

© 2020, Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Is there such a thing as “baby sleep deprivation” ? It’s clear that babies can cause sleep deprivation in others. But whether or not babies themselves suffer from sleeplessness is less clear. In my search for published studies about infants with insomnia, I’ve come up with almost Read More »

Babies expect fairness, and they prefer people who behave with fairness

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Babies expect adults to share resources equally. They prefer people who behave with fairness. But babies are also learning about selfishness and favoritism. Can we become the role models our children deserve? Everyone should get a fair share. It’s the organizing principle of hunter-gatherer societies, and a Read More »

Infant crying, fussing, and colic: A thinking parent’s guide

© 2009 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Are you coping with infant crying, fussing, or colic? Babies everywhere cry, especially during the first 3 months after birth. Even chimpanzees follow this pattern (Bard 2004). Like it or not, crying is a universal mode of communication for our species. But that doesn’t mean we’re Read More »

Stress in babies: How to keep babies calm, happy, and emotionally healthy

closeup, black and white father kissing a smiling baby - by Kathy Tegtmeyer / flickr (creative commons)

© 2015 – 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Why should we care about stress in babies? Nobody wants a stressed-out baby. The stress is contagious, making everyone miserable. And when the stress is chronic — a regular feature of everyday life — children face long-term health consequences. If babies are exposed to high levels Read More »

Newborn cognitive development: What are babies thinking and learning?

Closeup of pensive newborn by Rafiq Sarlie

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved What do newborns think about?  During the first few weeks after birth, it might seem that your baby does little more than sleep, cry, and feed. But research tells us that there is much more going on. The newborn brain is busy processing information, searching for patterns, Read More »

What causes colic in babies: An evidence-based guide

© 2018 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved What causes colic? According to a popular definition, colic is excessive crying or fussing in an otherwise healthy baby. It’s the catch-all term doctors use to describe intense, inconsolable crying when they aren’t immediately sure what’s going on. So there isn’t any single answer or remedy. Different babies cry Read More »

When do babies start walking, and how does it develop? (An illustrated guide)

baby penguins in the snow by Ky0n Cheng

© 2020 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved Most babies start walking independently within 2-3 months of learning to stand up by themselves. But there are other signs, and no single developmental timeline that all babies follow. In fact, the onset of walking is extremely variable, with some babies walking before 9 months, and others Read More »

Do babies feel empathy?

close-up of thoughtful, empathic baby by Beth Nazazio (flickr, creative commons)

© 2019 GWEN DEWAR, PH.D., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Do babies know when you’re sad? Do they feel concern? Do babies feel empathy? Yes! You might have heard that empathy doesn’t develop until the preschool years. But that’s actually a terrible misrepresentation of the evidence. Scientists recognize two kinds of empathy — affective empathy and cognitive Read More »

Moral sense: Babies prefer underdogs and do-gooders

baby wearing Yoda costume by rashida s. mar b. flickr ccysa2

© 2019 GWEN DEWAR, PH.D., ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Do babies have prosocial impulses? Do they feel empathy? A preference for do-gooders? An inclination to be helpful? Do babies know right from wrong? Let’s be clear: We shouldn’t hold babies responsible for moral transgressions. They can’t anticipate all the consequences of the things they do. If Read More »