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When babies are born they’ve only ever experienced the mother’s womb which is in near total darkness with limited noises such as the heart, breathing and faint noises from the outside world.
They have never seen, heard or experienced anything else before that point and at first do not have the mental comprehension to make sense of it.
When they’re born, their entire world changes as they are bombarded with new sights and sounds to process which can lead to staring at people. But, you may wonder ‘why do babies stare at ME?” and debate whether it’s personal or there’s something about you.
Well, there are a few explanations for this act, some which are obvious and others which may surprise you.
If babies stare at you often then it might well be because you’re attractive! In a study led by Alan Slater, it was found that when given two images the babies in the study tended to focus more on the attractive choice and by attractive we mean the person, object or animal which has the most asymmetrical face.
It is suggested that ‘pretty people’ are the most easily recognisable to a baby as being a human face and it is further suggested that this is a developmental tool for babies to start to understand people and their new social world. It’s crucial for a baby to learn to differentiate between caregivers and strangers.
A newborn baby is a sponge for new information, and whilst they can’t interact much they can certainly try and stare to get more information and process what’s going on. In a world full of people and objects a baby’s gaze, just like ours, automatically looks towards the new, the different and the strange.
Do you have unique features such as glasses, a beard, tattoos, dyed hair or a facial injury or disability? These are the kinds of things that a baby’s stare will attract attention to. As adults, we’ve been taught that staring is rude but a baby doesn’t know this and they won’t know this for a long time.
So, if you have a striking look about you then be prepared for babies to stare but don’t take it personally!
However, if staring is something you have a lot of trouble with then please take a look at Changing Faces which is a charity which can help young people to cope with it.
It’s impossible to comprehend what being a baby must be like entering a world knowing nothing and then suddenly being exposed to everything. But one thing’s for certain – they are extremely curious and learn about the world quickly. In order to do that they need to see it for themselves which can result in staring at objects and people.
If a baby is staring at you then they are not only looking at your face but also at what your face is doing such as talking, laughing, coughing, sneezing and all the emotions you’re displaying. The more they see the more they learn and adapt into their own social skills. Over time, as they get older the ‘baby stares’ do decline as they have a better grasp of what’s going on.
They may not actually be staring at you
For the first 2 months of life their vision and eye muscles are not yet fully developed which can lead to staring and wandering eyes – AOA estimate their primary focus range is 8-10 inches from their face. However, babies are still curious and fascinated by everything so they will try to make sense of what they can and can’t see.
If a baby is staring at you from a greater distance than 10 inches it’s entirely possible they aren’t really staring at you directly, they’re just trying to make out what is in the distance. In reality, they are just staring into the space you’re occupying rather than you personally.
Staring is a crucial element in a baby’s attempt to learn about their new world and they may stare at you for a few reasons. One thing’s for sure, they aren’t doing it to be rude although it may feel like it if you’re on the receiving end of it.
However, if you are being stared at by a baby why not try and embrace the cute moment and offer them a smile, a funny face or even stare at them back! If everyone started being a little friendlier in the world imagine how much nicer life would be! Children would definitely pick up on it and learn to understand that the world is filled with friendly and kind people.