Boys and girls behave differently as babies

By Alejandro Freixes, CCNN Head Writer

Young ladies are much more likely to respond to faces, maintain eye contact, and understand language sooner than boys.

Boys and girls can grow up to become just about anything, if they put their mind to it and work hard. A woman can run a multi-billion dollar company and a man can become a famous ballet dancer if he wants. However, there’s quite a few studies that show we’re all wired a little differently, even as babies!

Society might affect our opinions about male and female roles later in life, but babies just act naturally. So, it might surprise you to know that girls are more likely to talk first and boys are more likely to walk first. In fact, guys are pretty physical early on, squirming, kicking, and wiggling more than the gals. This can get them in trouble, because research shows they’re more likely to end up in the hospital for injuries! By preschool, though, they’ve gotten the hang of it and can outpace females in most measures of physical ability. Now, that doesn’t mean girls can’t be incredible athletes – just take a look at the tennis player Serena Williams or the women’s ice hockey teams at the Winter Olympics.

Okay, so who’s more emotional? If your first instinct is to say that girls are more emotional, you may be wrong! There’s some evidence that boys tend to be more easily agitated than girls and have a harder time calming down. According to one study, 6-month old boys might seem as calm as the girls when faced with a frustrating situation, but their heart rate and breathing shows they’re experiencing greater upset. However, even though boys might get annoyed or stressed out by tough situations more, they’re less likely to be afraid of loud noises or scary faces.

Alright, so how about social skills? Ladies will keep eye contact much longer, they can imitate movements better, and can manipulate toys more skillfully. Not only that, but talking seems to grab the attention of baby girls much more than boys. With all that extra tuning in to facial and vocal signals, it’s no surprise that girls take the prize when it comes to using gestures sooner and waving bye-bye earlier than their brothers. In fact, girls understand what you’re saying sooner than boys do, and can speak as many as 100 words by 16 months of age, while boys are stuck at 30 words. Whoa!

So, while differences might even out later, and there’s plenty of exceptions, boys and girls do have some hard-wired behavioral uniqueness.

Featured image courtesy of Paul Inkles on Flickr. Image of baby girl courtesy of Lina Smith on Flickr.