Why do babies like cartoons?

There is just something about animated TV – babies love it!

Even if your little one is not actually plonked in front of the TV for a brief moment of ‘please sit still and be quiet while I get through two-days-ago dishes and some of last week’s washing, chances are that your babs will be attracted to cartoons the that he comes into contact with as part of his day – on TVs in shops or at a mummy pal’s house.

You’ll see his little head careening past your shoulder as Mickey Mouse asks Minnie, Donald and Daisy to come into his club house (Disney Junior, anyone?).

But why do babies like cartoons?

I mean, the bright colours and moving images are obviously attractive. But there’s more to it – according to scientists at Birkbeck, University of London. So, you know how mums talk ‘motherese’ to their babies – talking in a sing song voice, modulating intonation, often high-pitched, well, animators do pretty much the same thing!

Researchers compared shows watched by adults with kiddy cartoons. In a frame-by-frame analysis of each type of show, it was found that the shows aimed at children are structured in a similar way to baby talk – they’re brighter, slower paced and camera movement is used in a different way than in adult shows.

So the attraction is almost subliminal. It’s not about the content at all but about the structure…the characters could be saying pretty much anything but if they were saying it in the right way, our babies would listen. It’s brilliant but also a little discomforting.

What is your baby’s favourite cartoon?

Source: “Prima Baby & Pregnancy”, June 2014 p20