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Research shows a bias of 70 -85 per cent of females cradle their babies to the left (even the Virgin Mary is typically featured holding the Baby Jesus on her left side) — and turns out, there may be a scientific reason.
Researchers from the University of Sussex tested more than 30 undergraduates (including 12 men) to analyse the link between left-side cradling and the emotional response from the right side of the brain.
Subjects were first observed picking up life-like baby dolls. Next, they were asked to look at various facial images designed to show whether they use the right side or left side of the brain to process their emotions.
Findings, previously published in Developmental Science, revealed that women demonstrated a strong preference to cradle on the left. Researchers believe that left-side cradling is a prime way for a mum to respond to a baby’s behaviour, such as crying, laughter and yawning.
Even the Virgin Mary is typically featured holding the Baby Jesus on her left side. “The way a woman cradles a child is governed by which hemisphere of her brain is processing the stimuli she receives from the baby,” say researchers
“The results for women were very clear. The way a woman cradles a child is governed by which hemisphere of her brain is processing the stimuli she receives from the baby,” explained study researcher Victoria Bourne. “The different sides of the brain do different things. For most people, the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and helps to process emotions.”
Essentially, holding the baby on the left side directs critical infant responses to the right side of the mother’s brain, which is home to emotions and intuition. This creates a perfect bonding opportunity for mother and child by giving the mum quick intuition to respond to her baby’s needs.
Interesting, the male subjects didn’t show left-cradling bias — study researchers suggest that it’s only when men become fathers that they may adopt this form of communication with the baby.
Study findings also support more recent research published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution which indicate that left-side cradling is the prime way for a mum to respond to a baby’s behaviour.