A new study has found that fathers can be just as good as mothers at recognising the cries of their offspring. However, the ability to pinpoint your baby's cry diminishes if you spend lots of time with other infants.
Crying Baby picture from Shutterstock
The ability of parents to identify individual characteristics of their offspring’s cries plays a role in facilitating the provision of adapted care, claim leading childcare authorities. Previously, it was thought that mothers were more adept at this task. However, a new study published in Nature Communications argues that women have not evolved specialised skills and dads are just as likely to recognise the specific cries of their child.
The researchers enlisted 27 fathers and 29 mothers and tested their ability to recognise their own baby on the basis of their cries, against the cries of other same-aged babies using audio playback of 15 cries. They found that there was no disparity in the results between each gender.
The study concludes that experience, rather than sex-specific innate predispositions, is the main factor that determines a parent’s ability to recognise their own baby on the basis of their cries.
My wife and sister both gave birth around the same time, and I usually have a tough time telling their cries apart. Does this make me a bad parent, I wondered? Thankfully, the report provides some additional evidence that made me feel a bit better:
We found that daily contact with others’ babies impaired the ability of parents to recognise their own baby, indicating that exposure to the cries of different babies may affect parents’ ability to learn the vocal signature of their own child.
Phew, that was close.
Could you pick your baby's cry from a lineup? Or is all infant blubbering the same? Let us know in the comments section below.
Fathers are just as good as mothers at recognising the cries of their baby [Nature Communication]