A baby animal will be treated like a grown-up when it goes home to its mom or dad, according to a new study.
The findings from an international study of more than 2,200 animals, published in the journal PNAS, indicate that a baby can be a valuable asset to a parent, as long as they keep the relationship positive.
“If a baby is taken from its mother or father, it’s not going to be loved by them,” said co-author Elizabeth L. Kastel, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“But it can still be important for the baby to get a sense of belonging and care and affection from them.”
The researchers looked at how animals responded to parents and caregivers and how those interactions impacted their health, welfare, behavior and reproduction.
In a series of experiments, the researchers trained dogs to run and jump to their owners’ faces while their parents stood on their front lawns.
They also gave the dogs a reward for the first time when they did so.
The animals were given the choice of a carrot or a spoon.
The carrots were offered for the next five minutes, while the spoon was offered for one minute.
The researchers also tested how the babies reacted to parents’ attention when their mother or dad went to the toilet.
In addition to a carrot, the babies were offered a carrot in the toilet bowl.
After a period of time, they were asked to look at a screen that displayed a photograph of their mother and dad.
The researchers then asked the mothers to pick out one of the three faces and give the baby a reward.
The babies were shown pictures of the faces from the same screen while their fathers sat at a distance, with the mothers sitting near them.
After six months, the baby animals’ social relationships were better when their mothers and dads sat near them and they were more likely to give them treats if their parents sat with them.
“I think that babies are more likely than adults to get into trouble because of the attention their mothers or fathers give them,” Kastels said.
“I think they’re really good at getting attention, and it’s really important that their parents show some love.”
While the research has shown that babies and their caregivers should be rewarded, there are some downsides.
The babies’ attention can get distracted by things like TV, radio, or social media, which can cause the babies to become anxious.
The lack of stimulation also can result in poor bonding, and the babies may also have trouble socializing with people.
“We really want to encourage parents to give their babies lots of attention, to be very positive about it, and be involved in it, but that’s hard for some people,” Kasterl said.
“This study showed that babies can be really useful to parents if they have a good relationship with their parents,” KASTEL said.
The research is supported by the National Institutes of Health.
For more information on the study, visit www.pnas.org/pnasw/abstract.cfm?abstract_id=222927