More research on baby communication reveals that infants can "match the sounds of an angry snarl or friendly yap with photos of dogs showing the corresponding body language" – a finding that suggests babies “can decipher emotions even before they learn to talk.”
The study, described in an article in livescience.com, involved 132 infants from four age groups (6, 12, 18 and 24 months) and found that even the youngest of babies could associate the sounds of an angry bark with a picture of an aggressive dog, the only difference between the age groups was in how quickly the older kids lost interest.
Older research focused on “the proportion of time a baby looks in a certain direction or the proportion of time he or she exhibits some other signal of response to show a baby’s skills in distinguishing facial expressions or intonations in speech patterns. These studies have suggested that while 6-month-olds are experts in verbal and facial perception even when it comes to monkeys, as they get older they lose this ability.”
Scientists now postulate that these new findings show a different picture – babies, it seems, don’t become less attuned to emotional displays, nor do they “refine their abilities and focus on what’s really relevant, say, human faces rather than monkey or dog mugs,” as they get older, they merely come to show their responses differently. In other words, they remain as much attuned to figuring out and responding to emotions as newborns and adults.
It seems that once again, science bolsters common sense, and this finding reinforces the old baby rearing advice of “easy does it.” The best way to make a fussy, crying baby calm, cool and collected is to remain so yourself because no matter their age, they can read you like a book.