It’s a phenomenon that until now has had little to no explanation – a parent seeing their youngest child to be significantly smaller than they actually are. Called the “baby illusion” by some, it often becomes more apparent at the birth of a parent’s second child when they suddenly believe their first child has shot-up in size pretty much in an instant.
It had been suggested that it’s all a simple case of comparing the size of the new baby to its older sibling, but according to Jordy Kaufman of Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, there’s actually more to it than we thought.
Instead, he and his fellow researchers claim that parents are predisposed to see their youngest child as being much smaller than they actually are, which in turn means that when the second child is born, the “baby illusion” is broken and they suddenly seem a lot bigger.
The team asked a group of 747 parents whether or not they noticed a huge growth-spurt in the first child following the birth of the second – a full 70% said they did.
To take the study one step further, the team then asked a group of mothers to mark the height of their children on a wall without actually measuring the child first. The results were extremely interesting – most mothers marked the height of their youngest child on average 7.5cm shorter than the child actually was, though guessed the height of their older child mush more accurately.
According to Kaufman, the results clearly display out predisposition to see our youngest child as younger and smaller than they actually are – explaining why the “baby of the family may always be the baby” in most instances.