Babies. Experts in milk extraction, poop explosions and, as it turns out, number recognition. 

That’s right – your sweet, squishy, itty, bitty baby may actually be a mini maths genius in disguise.

Newborns are pretty incredible. Not only do they possess the ability to melt our hearts with a single coo, they also have a lot more going on in their minds than they let on.

Take their maths ability, for example. There have been several studies around the world that have looked at number recognition in newborns. As it turns out, babies can recognise numbers from the moment they are born.

Doing the maths

As you can imagine, testing whether a newborn understands numbers or not is a bit tricky. It’s not like they can tell us. So researchers use an infant eye tracker when testing for things like this.

In one study, for example, researchers showed newborns two different images, one with the same amount of dots and another with different dots that continued to change. If the newborn preferred to look at the image with the alternating dots, “the researchers concluded that her intuitive number sense was at work”.

Number recognition in newborns

Researchers have a special name for this secret talent – the Approximate Number System (ANS). It suggests that “representations of space, time, and number are systematically interrelated at the start of postnatal life, before acquisition of language and cultural metaphors, and before extensive experience with the natural correlations between these dimensions”.

In other words? First comes maths, then comes language.

While your newborn may not possess the ability to do long division at birth, it is quite amazing to know your newborn already has a sense of how numbers work. It makes you think, what other secret talents are they hiding from us?

Looking for more ways to get inside your baby’s brain? Have a look at his awesome video that shows us how babies see the world.

Author

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe, including her son, daughter, cat, dog and partner. When she’s not writing, you can find her lounging by the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach or nagging her kids to put on their pants.

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