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Australian day care research finds babies are capable of complex interactions

Article By: Richard Howard, News Editor

Babies do not need to master language skills before they are capable of interacting with younger children, a study funded by the Australian Research Council has found.

A Charles Sturt University team strapped cameras to the heads of children yet to reach 18 months old, in order to assess how children in day care interact. The results convinced researchers that children have far more sophisticated forms of communication than scientists would have suspected at such a young age.

Studying the results from two childcare centres and nine family day care homes, the university team found subtle but clear ways by which babies were able to make friends, amuse each other and attract attention, while also recording different responses to group behaviour.

Discussing the findings, Dr Jennifer Sumsion spoke of how babies ‘interact with each other through making eye contact, subtle gestures, reaching out, and even using humour,’ going on to conclude that babies are ‘much more capable at a young age than we had anticipated’.

The research is supported by Family Day Care Australia and KU Children’s Services, who are keen to support work that allows the growth and development of young children to be better understood.

It is hoped that the results will reassure parents and promote the benefits of a professional day care centre, together with advantages of spending time with babies before they begin to master language skills.


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