Do you know that most females throughout the mammal kingdom hold babies on their left? If you don’t believe or if the fact surprises you, just strap in.
A 2017 study conducted by Saint Petersburg University researchers revealed that most mothers hold babies on their left, regardless of which hand is dominant.
According to the authors, it’s all about a mother’s brain. Interestingly, according to the study, which was published in detail in the journal ‘Nature Ecology & Evolution’, it’s not just caretakers who prefer the left, infants prefer mom’s left, too.
Previous research has shown that children prefer to go around people to the right — keeping them on their left side — but show no such preference when it comes to inanimate objects.
University of Tasmania researcher Janeane Ingram and her team traveled throughout the world to study 11 different mammal species. They found that infants in every one of these species preferred to keep their mothers on their left. But when the situation became stressful, the mother took charge and kept the baby on her own left side.
So what’s so special about the left?
According to the researchers, it’s because left eye sends signals to brain’s right hemisphere. They say that myths about being “right-brained” and “left-brained” aside, the two halves of the brain do take on some specialized tasks. In the case of the right hemisphere, those include analyzing social signals and emotional information — like, say, a baby’s cry of pain or the hungry gaze of a predator.
“Interestingly, only in stressful, potentially threatening situations mothers tend to keep their infants in the left visual field that is related to an increased need to monitor the infant in an unsafe environment,” the authors write, adding that such a move helps the mother derive “optimal control of the infant state as the left eye-right hemisphere system provides higher accuracy and speed in many types of social responses.”
That keeps baby safe, thereby ensuring that the species can continue in future generations.
Now take a look around you and see how mothers hold their babies. Everything is science.