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How Eye Contact With Your Baby Can Improve Their Attention Span

They say that eyes are the window to the soul, but experts think that for your baby eyes might be the window to their attention span. A recent study found a correlation between parent’s eye contact and the duration for which their infants can focus. It seems getting your kid to succeed in school later in life may be a matter of signing up for the longest staring contest of your life (so it’s a good thing you’re competitive).

Looking at 36 parent-infant groups, researchers had both wear cameras on their heads, which likely made it harder to look their respective babies in the eye (because there’s a weird camera on their head). When caregivers presented them with 3 toys, they fell into 3 groups: parents who let the kids lead, parents who led the kids, and parents who didn’t pay much attention at all. The most successful parents, who watched as the babies directed the play, were able to hold their attention for 2.3 seconds longer — nearly four times longer than parents who lost eye contact with infants throughout the session. And the lower the engagement on the part of parents, the shorter the attention span of their kids. Hear that, guy who’s checking his texts while reading this?


Fortunately, you don’t have to creep your kid out with constant and intrusive eye contact in order to cultivate a quality attention span. Rather, experts suspect it’s as simple as looking at your phone a little less and your baby a little more. The main takeaway is that if you focus on the thing in which your infant is engaged, it will hold that interest for longer. And sure, that’s easier said than done when they’re often engrossed in a cardboard box, but give it time. One day they’ll be into their smartphone as much as your are, among other shared interests you can bond over.

[H/T] ABC News