There are few sweeter sounds than hearing a baby laugh, especially when they laugh for the first time. It’s a contagious sound. When you’re out in public and your infant starts to giggle, just look around and you’ll see how baby’s laughter inspires smiles and chuckles from onlookers.
Coming down with a bad case of the giggles is a common daytime phenomenon among infants. Once something sets them off, they may laugh over and over again. A funny face, something they hear — some sort of stimulus makes them laugh and laugh.
Dr. Caspar Addyman, a Research Fellow at London Birkbeck University’s Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development is the head of “BabyLab.” He is studying why babies laugh and his research study will survey thousands of families worldwide.
‘Understanding babies also helps us understand adults,’ he says. ‘Babies are little scientists. They are discovering the world and through them we can discover a great deal, too.’
So passionate is he that Dr Addyman — a banker turned psychologist who doesn’t have any children — is funding the research himself. He’s created a detailed questionnaire for parents, as well as asking them to send in videos and short reports of what makes their babies laugh.
So far, 1,400 parents from 25 countries have answered questions ranging from whether their baby was more likely to laugh at a particular time of day to which toys and nursery rhymes they found funniest.
‘We also asked whether they found Mummy or Daddy funniest and what the baby’s general temperament was. We are also working on a separate questionnaire to work out whether there is a correlation between laughing babies and a calmer temperament,’ Dr Addyman told the Mail.
‘The big surprise has been that, contrary to general perception, laughter is present from a very early age,’ he says.
‘Ninety per cent of babies have smiled in the first two months and laughed just a few weeks after that, while we have had reports from parents that their baby has laughed unambiguously at just a few weeks old.