A thought-provoking and emotional new Netflix docuseries follows 15 babies all over the globe over the course of their first year. Here are several reasons it's a must-watch for anyone raising a little one.

By Maressa Brown
February 21, 2020
Netflix

Parents have always turned to experts to better understand their baby's psychological development. In the late 1940s and 1950s, American pediatrician Benjamin Spock was the go-to source. In the 1980s, Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel delivered What to Expect When You're Expecting. And in the early '00s, Harvey Karp shared tips for raising The Happiest Baby on the Block. Now, in 2020, four well-respected researchers are offering up moving, game-changing insights into the infant mind in the new Netflix documentary series, Babies.

Filmed over the course of three years, the series features 15 international, diverse families, as well as scientists on a mission to uncover the details of how babies bond with us, sleep, learn to crawl and walk, communicate and speak, among various other milestones. Here, five reasons you'll want to binge the series.

1. The latest, jaw-dropping research

As Netflix notes in their press release, there has been an explosion of understanding of the baby brain over the last 15 years. We're learning that even the youngest babies know more, see more, and understand far more than we ever thought possible.

By putting the latest technology and research methods to use, as well as building on information we've had for decades, Babies offers fairly mind-blowing discoveries from scientists around the globe, including:

  • Rebecca Spencer, Ph.D, director of the UMASS, Amherst Sleep Monitoring Lab, who has studied the importance of naps for a baby’s learning
  • Michael Georgieff, M.D., executive vice chair and professor of the department of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, who has linked iron and other micronutrients to babies’ ability to form memories
  • Ruth Feldman, Ph.D., professor of developmental social neuroscience at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel), who discovered that the surge in oxytocin, the bonding hormone, that occurs in new mothers, can also take place in men
  • Susan Lynch, Ph.D., director of the Benioff Center for Microbiome Medicine and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who found that babies living with dogs and cats are better protected from developing asthma and allergies

2. Its compelling, diverse cast

From the baby girl born to an American, heterosexual couple to a baby boy born via a Canadian surrogate to a same-sex couple, you'll be invested in the cast from episode one. The 15 families featured in the series illustrate just how different the parenting experience can be for anyone raising a child while highlighting the relatable similarities—from mom guilt to how partners juggle their duties and navigate common worries and fears.

"This series showcases incredible, groundbreaking science revealing the developmental leaps and bounds babies go through in the first year of life while capturing the personal and emotional journey of the family as a whole," Jane Root, executive producer of Babies and founder and CEO of Nutopia, told E! News.

Netflix

3. Key info on bonding and brain development

Who hasn't found themselves caught in a debate over what parenting style is best? It seems everyone has opinions on a growing number of labels, from attachment to free-range.

In episode one of Babies, which is all about the biology of bonding, researchers in Singapore get up close and personal with moms and babies, observing their parenting style and then comparing them to MRIs of the children's brains. Meanwhile, researchers in Massachusetts build on developmental psychologist Dr. Edward Tronick's still face experiment, checking the stress levels of babies whose parents briefly denied them responsiveness and emotional attunement. And in Israel, scientists uncover how fathers get bolstered stores of the bonding hormone, oxytocin, when they spend more time connecting with their little one—and can even experience brain changes, which have been historically seen only in moms if they're the primary caregiver.

All of this research makes it clear that no matter how you label your parenting style, there's a lot of power in actively loving your L.O., being receptive to whatever it is they're expressing, and exploring their needs alongside them.

4. Eye-opening info on baby's diet, movement, speech, and sleep

Researchers also delve into the power of an infant's diet to nourish and protect them, the importance of the crawling phase, the fascinating way babies work their way up to being able to speak, the science of sleep, and intriguing findings on what goes into—and stems from—a child's first steps.

5. It leaves no stone unturned

While the first six episodes focus on slightly more physical aspects of an infant's life—such as eating, crawling, and walking—the second batch of episodes will examine what’s going on in a baby’s mind and how they make sense of the world.

Talk about invaluable information for any parent.

The first six episodes of the 12-episode series will be available to stream on Netflix starting on February 21.

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