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Babies: Their Wonderful World – BBC2

Babies: Their Wonderful World
(Image credit: BBC/Voltage TV Productions Ltd)

A new BBC2 documentary explores the minds of tots – Babies: Their Wonderful World – What is going on in those little heads?

When do babies become aware of gender; when do they develop their unique personalities – and do smartphones really affect their fine motor skills?

These and other burning questions are put to the test in this three-part series, which carries out scientific experiments to work out what is really going on in babies’ brains.

Presented by paediatrician Guddi Singh, the show uses state-of-the-art technology to help us see what shapes babies’ formative years and the effect parents have on their development.

‘We have some answers to long-standing controversies now, like how to best deal with tantrums, for example,’ explains Guddi. Fascinating stuff.

TV Times rating: ****

Babies: Their Wonderful World

Dr Guddi Singh with the babies she's studying

Guddi brings together top child development experts and dozens of families from across the country in a specially designed baby lab where experiments and demonstrations are carried out to reveal what makes us who we are.

Here, Guddi tells TV Times more about their discoveries…

How would you sum up the series? It’s the first of its kind, as far as I know. It showcases with real-life experiments what science knows about our developments through the first two years of life. Understanding how the brain develops is important because it helps us understand how we can nurture a growing brain.

Why is this research being carried out now?  Research across the world is ongoing, because we actually still don’t fully understand the human brain. But there’s this increasing understanding that the early years are vital for what happens to kids as they grow up, in terms of their emotional and mental development and their physical health.

What can we learn from the series?  The overriding message is that our brains are these incredible learning machines and they’re amazingly sensitive to everything they’re exposed to. Adults have an enormous amount of power because how we behave and interact with a baby has the ability to do great good but also great harm.

Does state-of-the-art equipment give you a deeper understanding? The technology is opening up what before was like a black box. The brain was this hidden place. What we see in the show is mind-blowing!

You use portable brain scanners to see what the brain does when babies need to practise self-control. What did they show?  What was interesting was that those parts of the brain that are activated when grown-ups practise self-control are the same parts activated in babies. There’s this perception that babies are just eating, sleeping and not much else, but they are fantastically sensitive creatures with very complex brains.

Tell us about the tantrum suit… It has sensors that measure heart rate and sweat. Tantrums are normal, but by measuring these physiological responses we can find the best way to deal with them. We can look at different parenting techniques, like distraction, soothing or ignoring, and see which is the best response.

See the full interview with Guddi is in this week's TV Times, on Sale 20 November