Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Infant Behavior Is More Than Mimicry

WebMD Health News

Feb. 13, 2002 -- Infants are more than just masters of mimicry. A new study shows that they are rational, thinking, little human beings with the ability to make sensible choices -- at least sometimes.

Researchers from the Netherlands had a group of 14-month-old infants watch an adult perform a particular task. The adult turned on a tap-on table light -- but with her forehead. Sometimes her hands were in clear view. But at other times, her hands and arms were hidden by a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.

Most of the infants who watched the adult turn on the light with her forehead while her hands were hidden decided that was silly. They determined it made more sense to turn the light on with their hand.

But when the adult's hands were in clear view, the babies imitated the adult and turned the light on with their forehead.

Lead researcher Gyorgy Gergely and colleagues suspect that when the adult's hands were hidden, the infants decided it was impractical to use their foreheads when their own hands were free. But when the adult's hands were in clear view, the babies decided that since the adult could have used her hands and didn't, then the forehead approach must offer some advantage.

So, infants -- even those just over a year old -- are able to make rational decisions based on what they think makes sense.

Could the findings provide a clue about how to get babies and kids to listen? Well, the trick seems to be making them think they stand to benefit from whatever it is you want them to do.

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow