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baby smiling

New BBC documentary tests five games to see what really gets babies giggling.

The new BBC documentary ‘Babies: Their Wonderful World’ (Mondays, BBC2) is tracking the development of babies from birth to small person-dom. It covers how, where and when different parts of our humanity kick in. This includes how we learn to socialise and develop self-awareness and empathy

Here we look at one of the highlights of episode two – which games make babies chuckle? (Who doesn’t want to know the answer to this?)

Even more so when the programme tells us laughter can decrease stress and boost the immune system. Read on for the best games to get a giggle from your little one.

5. Not-a-cat

Adult plays with toy animal in front of child and makes the wrong noise. For example, plays with a toy dog and says ‘miaow’. Result? Not great. Only 28% of the 300 babies who took part thought this was worth raising a smile for.

4. Not-a-hat

Adult puts cup on their head and pretends it's a hat. Result? Getting better, with about 45% of children thinking this is (a bit of) a laugh. 

3. Tearing paper

Adult tears bits of paper in front of baby. Result? Scrapes into bronze medal position with 47% of the baby audience finding paper tearing chuckle-worthy.

2. Napkin in the mouth

Adult puts napkin in mouth and makes funny noises. Result? A healthy 60% of the babies and toddlers thought this was a riot. 

1. And, in the top spot, the old classic – peekaboo

If you don't know what peekaboo is, where have you been? It’s the old-school game where you hide your eyes/face behind your hands/item of clothing/cloth/anything and then pop out saying ‘peekaboo’. Result? A whopping 70% of the babies loved this one more than any other game, which isn't surprising. Because we all love playing it too. Until maybe the 100th time…

But do you know why babies love peekaboo? According to psychologist Dr Caspar Addyman, a presenter on the BBC series, the success of peekaboo is down to the reward babies get when the adult reveals themselves. The 'reveal' re-establishes their human connection and loving bond. Powerful stuff and more than enough reason to put a muslin over your head. Again.

And that's not the only part we enjoyed about Monday's episode. The fact that babies find dogs twice as funny as cats is surely a headline waiting to happen? 

Further information

Catch up on the episode here.

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