In exhaustive and imaginative detail, what we understand about how newborns perceive the world--and how we come to know it....

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WORLD OF THE NEWBORN

In exhaustive and imaginative detail, what we understand about how newborns perceive the world--and how we come to know it. The Maurers (she's a psychology professor at Canada's McMaster Univ.) made a massive search of the literature to explore what babies sense in the womb, while they are being born, and as infants. The authors report clearly on the hard facts: ""Investigations using ultrasonography show that by the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, the fetus is moving. . .he is as likely to be found with his head up as with it down; but by the middle of gestation his movements look more controlled."" They then move on to speculative ground, as they try to report the baby's point of view: ""The fetus probably feels changes in position constantly. . ."" Then, at their most imaginative, they try to translate this into adult terms: the womb ""can be noisy, bumpy, unsettling and foul tasting. . .,"" akin to ""flying cramped inside a light airplane, through turbulent weather, with the taste of air-sickness in your mouth."" Readers who aren't put off by such extrapolation may well be bothered by finding out how we know all this: an anatomist ""found that a fetus aborted during the third month of gestation (but not yet dead) will respond reflexively to the touch of a hair. . ."" But, still, the basis is sound, there are some real highlights (the differences between infant and adult sleep, for instance), and readers can equally well draw their own conclusions and analogies. A thorough overview of relevant research findings, then, followed by heavy interpretation and sometimes disturbing detail.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1988