Monday, September 29, 2008

Oh! Baby, you're amazing!

Oh! Baby, you're amazing!

The human baby is truly amazing;
the unfolding of his qualities and abilities a complex story.
His tiny body has the backing of a million years
of human evolution,
helping different features to develop
in a special sequence.

Evolution has armed the infant with
an irresistible appeal that ensures his parents care for him,
feed him, and keep him clean and warm.

For human beings,
the parental burden is huge,
lasting nearly two decades for each child,
but it can also be a source of intense joy.
And
babies are our only certain form of immortality,
ensuring that our genes do not die out.

But the importance of a baby's first two years
cannot be overestimated.
Many of the qualities he acquires in that
time mark him for life.
Nestling inside his fragile head,
a newborn baby has the genetically inherited
equipment that is needed for this development.

All his parents have to do is offer him the setting in which
this equipment can whirr into action.

Read on for amazing facts
about a baby's potential…


1 BIRTH

When a newborn baby is placed on his mother's stomach
so that she can embrace him, it is no accident
that the umbilical cord is of just the right length
- approximately 20 inches -
to make this possible
while the baby is still attached to the placenta.

2 THE BABY'S HEAD

The bony plates of a baby's skull remain separate after birth.
Small gaps between them are covered by a tough,
membranous tissue that is strong enough
to resist all but a sharp, direct blow.
The plates eventually touch,
forming wavy sutures which become harder
and stronger until the skull is fused;
in most cases, this takes between 18 and 24 months.

3 BODY TEMPERATURE

A full-term newborn has a secret weapon
- "brown" fat.
This special type of fatty tissue,
which burns calories, makes up five per cent of
the baby's body and is located in the back,
shoulders and neck.
It liberates heat through a special chemical process
if the baby's body starts to cool unduly.

4 REFLEXES

If a parent presses their forefingers into the palms
of a newborn baby's hands, his tiny fingers respond
by curling tightly and clinging on.
Amazingly,
if the parent then gently lifts
the clasped forefingers,
the baby's grasp is usually so strong that his whole body
can hang in mid-air,
with his bent fingers supporting his weight.

5 HEARTBEAT

The resting heart rate for an infant
(115 pulses per minute)
is about the same as that of an adult
who has been performing strenuous exercise.

6 BONDING

A baby can identify his mother by her unique body
fragrance and a blindfolded woman has the ability
to identify her child from a host of other babies by scent alone.
A sleeping mother can identify the cry of her baby, too.
She is programmed to wake only
at the sound of her particular infant.

7 BABY FACE

Adults respond to particular features
- found in their most exaggerated form on a baby's face.
These include a large forehead, a button nose, big eyes,
fine hair and a small chin.
When an adult sees an unfamiliar baby face,
so powerful is the instinct that the brain reacts
within one-seventh of a second.

8 BIRTH WEIGHT

The average weight of a baby at birth is 7-8lb,
but the smallest baby ever to survive
(a premature one) weighed only 8.5oz at birth.
The heaviest weighed in at 22lb.

9 SKELETON

The exact number of infant bones varies
but there are usually about 270 at birth compared to an adult,
who has 206.
The reductions take place in the central skeleton,
owing to the fusing together of bones in the spine and skull.
A baby is born without ossified kneecaps
- these do not develop until he is two years old.

10 SLEEP

During his first week outside the womb,
a typical baby sleeps for 16.6 hours out of every 24
in as many as 18 separate naps.
By the age of six months,
his total sleep time is 14 hours,
and by the age of five,
it is down to 12 hours per day.

11 LEFT AND RIGHT


One in 10 children is left-handed;
from studies of ancient axe handles,
we know this bias has existed for at least 200,000 years.
A clue may lie in the fact that the majority
of babies lie in the womb with their right sides
closer to their mother's body surface,
therefore it receives more stimulation during pregnancy.

12 TOUCH

Girls are more sensitive to touch than boys
- on average, girls just a few hours old react
to a weak puff of air against their belly and
squirm and cry more than boys when uncovered.
Other investigators have found that plenty of
skin contact produces babies
who cry less and are healthier.

13 INTELLIGENCE

The brain of a child
is much busier than that of an adult.
In the brain of a newborn, there are about 2,500 synapses
(connections between brain cells)
attached to each of the 10 billion neurons
or brain cells he possesses.
In a two-year-old, this number rises to 15,000
- more than in the brain of adults,
who lose some of these connections over time,
as the ones that are used less are eventually eliminated.

14 SELF-AWARENESS

When a toddler reaches the age of 15 months,
a moment of truth arrives.
He looks in the mirror, waves his hand,
and the "other person"
waves back in exactly the same way.
The child realises that what he sees is himself
and not another child.
Apart from human toddlers,
only chimpanzees, orang-utans, dolphins,
elephants and just one gorilla
have managed this with any certainty.

15 GENDER AND BRAIN

Even at the 26th week of pregnancy,
it is possible to distinguish a male foetal brain
from a female one.
Male babies have brains
that are more asymmetrical than female babies.
They also have more white matter and less grey matter.
In female brains there is more symmetry
in the "higher association cortex";
the part of the brain that deals with
complex mental processes.

[Extracted from 'Baby' by Desmond Morris (Hamlyn)]


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With love from
Anand.R.Joshi
Have a nice day
http://geniusanandjoshi.blogspot.com


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