New film shows babies arrive already connected to other people

"Babies arrive already connected to other people," says Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, who has produced a new film called The Connected Baby with help from a public engagement grant from the British Psychological Society.

"That’s what a range of sciences is now telling us: that they have brains already tuned in to other people’s body rhythms and vocal tones and movements. It makes them much more communicative and sophisticated than we often realise. In fact, it turns out that their very brain pathways are shaped by the kinds of responses that they receive from other people.

"So, to build the kind of society that we all want, we need to pay more attention to the way that we relate to our youngest children. I guess you could say that science is helping us to understand why it is that the way we love our children matters so much."

The film demonstrates, using insights from scientific studies of infant psychology, how babies come in to the world already communicating, already social, already able to engage actively in relationships with the people around them.

The film was produced jointly by Dr Zeedyk, Senior Lecturer in Developmental Psychology at the University of Dundee, and Jonathan Robertson, an independent filmmaker based in Fife. It contains commentary from some of the leading infant researchers in the UK, along with extensive footage of mothers, fathers, and grandmothers engaged in playful interaction with their youngsters. The soundtrack was specially recorded by renowned Scottish folk singer Sheena Wellington

One of the parents participating in the film said: “When I saw the footage, I could not believe how attentive my baby was. I could see every little nuance – the way his eyes never left my face, how his movements actually coordinated with my own, how synchronised our facial expressions could be. I think I hadn’t noticed this so much before, because it happens so fast in real time.  It’s like a new world now! Just watching the film has helped me understand him better, and made me more confident.”

The Society makes public engagment grants each year to help members promote the relevance of evidence-based psychology to wider audiences either through direct work or by organising special communications activities.