Monday 8 August 2022 04:25 PM Deciphering an infant's cry is NOT an innate ability and must be learned, study ... trends now
The sound of a baby crying is enough to fill any new parent with dread.
But if you're struggling to decipher your baby's cries, panic not - a new study has confirmed that this is not an innate ability, and must be learned with time.
Researchers from the University of Saint-Etienne played recordings of babies crying for different reasons to participants from a range of childcare backgrounds.
It was found that those with experience caring for babies were better at telling the difference between cries.
The team hopes this knowledge will help parents learn how to recognise pain and respond to it even better.
Professor Nicolas Mathevon, a professor of bioacoustics, said: 'We found that the ability to detect pain in cries—that is, to identify a pain cry from a mere discomfort cry—is modulated by experience of caring for babies.
'Current parents of young babies can identify a baby's pain cries even if they have never heard this baby before, whereas inexperienced individuals are typically unable to do so.'
The study results reveal that parenting experience influences our ability to decode babies' communication signals. It was found that those with experience caring for babies, like parents or childcare professionals, were better at telling the difference between cries (stock image)
Non-parents without experience with babies = 54.3 per cent
Non-parents with moderate experience with babies = 57.3 per cent
Parents of children over five = 65.5 per cent
Paediatric care professionals = 71.1 per cent
Parents of children under two = 71.2 per cent
Crying is the only means of communication a newborn human has before they learn to speak, and thus it can have a variety of meanings.
Professor Mathevon and his colleagues are involved in researching how information is encoded in babies' cries and how human listeners extract this information.
Their new study, published today in Current Biology, shows how prior caregiving experience with babies shapes our ability to identify when they are in pain.