I wonder if a newborn can recognize his/her own cry.

Yesterday I did a little "experiment" with my four weeks old daughter:

I recorded her cry for a while. Once she was relaxed again, I reproduced it next to her so she could hear it. I did this a couple of times on different moments. Surprisingly, in most of the cases she started to feel a bit anxious and, eventually, started crying again. Stopping the audio relaxed her again within seconds.

So I wonder: why did this happen? Is the recognizing her own cry or is the sound itself that alters her?

  • 6
    Anecdotally only, it may simply be the sound of crying; an older sibling crying can set off a younger sibling who was previously completely calm (such as when the toddler, all ready for bed and happily relaxing in his bed, hears his older brother crying because he doesn't want to get ready for bed -- after a half minute of hearing that, the toddler is suddenly crying and upset, although he can't tell me why!)
    – Acire
    Aug 8 '15 at 14:34

Studies show that newborns are discriminating. They can tell the difference between the sounds of

their own cries

• the cries of other newborns, and

• the cries of older babies

And newborns are more likely to cry only if they hear the cries of other newborns.

Source here (See the section titled "Newborn babies show empathy...and a sense of self ?")

The experiment cited in this article is quite similar to the one you performed. So it seems that newborns are in fact actually able to recognized their own crying (or I should say that the researchers concluded that babies cry less often when exposed to their own recorded crying as opposed to recorded cryings of other newborns).

  • BTW, a coworker of mine gave me this book when my kid was born. Is probably easy to find on Amazon. Maybe it will give you more ideas for experiments, and usually it explains the developmental milestones tested with each experiment.
    – Diego
    Aug 13 '15 at 20:20
  • Great! (¡Gracias! :D), it is also interesting what your link says about In one study, 1-day-old babies were more likely to cry when they heard an audio tape of another newborn in distress. But when they heard recordings of their own cries, or of the cries of an 11-month-old baby, the newborns didn’t respond I will have to test this one.
    – fedorqui
    Aug 14 '15 at 18:38

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