Have you ever gotten caught in a situation where a stranger's really cute baby is staring at you and it's all you can do not to coo right at it and talk baby talk? You might think that you're a baby magnet, but the truth is most babies love staring at faces and often spend a bit more time staring at faces that are new to them. Why is that? Read on.
Though it might not seem like babies are doing a lot from the outside, on the inside babies are busy taking in huge amounts of new information all at once and processing it. Because babies are so dependent on human adults for their care, it's critical that they are able to recognize the faces of those caregivers so that they can communicate what they need. In fact, babies are able to recognize their mother's face within as little as a few hours of birth and by three months old they begin to group different kinds of faces, like animal versus human, or children versus an adult.
Learning to recognize familiar and new faces also teaches babies about communication. Babies can learn a lot through watching our expressions and how our mouths form words. Some scientists believe that babies have an innate ability for recognizing and mimicking expressions that relate to emotion. Want to learn more about why that baby is staring at you? Watch the video!