Why aren’t babies just little adults?
Why are babies small and grownups big? Why are babies so helpless, instead of little versions of adults? Do babies know they're babies? How do babies grow? How do babies learn to talk?
Kids have been sending us lots of questions about babies! This week we're learning more about the development of the human brain with Celeste Kidd, professor of psychology and primary investigator at the Kidd Lab at the University of California Berkeley.
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- Human babies rely on adults for everything. Some babies of other species never even meet their parents and are able to take care of themselves from birth. Human babies rely on adults for many years. Scientists aren’t sure why, but there are theories - educated ideas - about why. One is that humans need big brains to do all of the complex things we do but if our brains were fully-sized when we were born, our heads would be too big for us to get out of our mothers’ bodies. So a lot of our development has to happen after we’re born, leaving us pretty helpless for the early years.
- We're born with some of our brain power, but our brains keep developing long after we're born, well into our 20s.
- There are some advantages to that long period of childhood, surrounded by family. It allows for a lot of cultural transmission, for one. That means learning about tools, language, manners and arts. Some of these exist in other species, but human systems are elaborate and take a lot of time to learn.