Well, a new study suggests that it's not actually sound that elicits the most response from babies in the womb—but rather touch!
The recent study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, tested various approaches to connecting with unborn babies. It created three groups of moms in their second and third trimester of pregnancy and instructed one group to read classic children's stories to their babies, one to rub their baby bumps, and one to do nothing.
While the expecting moms did this, researchers tracked the movements of the babies in the womb using sonograms. And surprisingly, it was the babies of the moms who rubbed their bellies that had the most movements of their arms, head, and mouth during the course of the research.
The authors concluded: "It might well be that the increases in arm movements in response to maternal touch are also directed responses towards the source of the stimulation." (Aw! Trying to reach out and touch mommy right back!)
The study used a small sample of women—just 23—so it's not exactly a way to draw major, sweeping conclusions about babies' behavior in utero. Still, it's fun to think about our wee ones reacting to our touch before we even get a chance to meet them on the outside—and a good excuse to rub that belly!
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