Baby Tours: How Babies Respond to Art

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A stimulating environment is important for young children, and much of a child’s brain develops during the earliest part of life. The visual system, in particular, develops rapidly over the first few weeks.  As early as nine minutes after birth, babies prefer to look at photographs and pictures that most resemble the human face. Newborns can see color, and a one-month-old can discriminate red from green. At 12 weeks old, infants demonstrate preferences for colored stimuli as opposed to white.

In her research on aesthetic preferences, Dr. Kathy Danko-McGhee, the Emma Leah Bippus Director of Education , has studied how babies respond to art.

“An aesthetic response for an adult is quite different than that of a young child,” she said. “Adults can reflect on and talk about what they like to look at.  Babies tell us through body language: a visual fixation, a smile, or reaching for an image or object.”

In addition to looking at themselves, infants are attracted to high contrast visuals, bold images, colorful objects, and faces. The same holds true for toddlers, who also are drawn to looking at animals, shiny objects, and familiar items that are part of their world.

It’s no surprise, then, that an art museum is a rich source of visual stimulation for babies. Introducing infants to works of art promotes early neuron connections in the brain. And for the verbal toddler, interacting with an adult in naming images and describing different characteristics in a work of art lays the groundwork for visual, cognitive, and language development.

FREE Baby Tours

Watch your child respond to large colorful paintings and learn ways to facilitate early visual literacy skills.  Join us for a lively and FREE 30-minute Baby Tour.  Parents and caregivers with infants up to 18 months are welcome. Meet at the TMA Family Center on any of these Fridays:

  • June 20 at 6 p.m.
  • July 18 at 3:30 p.m.
  • August 15 at 6 p.m.

One child per adult. Strollers not permitted.

Tours and Museum admission free. Parking is free for members, $5 nonmembers