| 6.3°C Dublin

Sugar, spice and all things nice

Victoria Beckham is currently nesting at home as she gets ready to give birth to her first baby daughter in the next couple of weeks.

The fashion designer and singer is said to have already decorated the new arrival's nursery in shades of pink. But what can the former Spice Girl expect to be different when she brings a baby girl home compared with bringing her three sons back as infants?

After all, girls are made from sugar and spice and all things nice, unlike boys who are comprised of slugs and snails and puppy dogs' tails.

For starters, girls love to chat, and a study conducted last year found that newborn girls did better than boys in trying to copy finger movements. This is because of an infant girl's hurry to communicate with her parents.

Baby boys, on the other hand, like action more than chat. Psychologists at the University of Cambridge gave infant boys the choice of looking at people talking or windshield wipers moving, and the tots universally chose the window wipers.

Boys prefer looking at groups of faces rather than individual ones. When they were given the choice, newborn boys preferred looking at a mobile to looking at a single face.

Baby girls like to make and maintain eye contact with their parents. However, they are particularly attracted to womens' faces and may hone in on their mother. So dad, footballer David Beckham, needn't mind if his new daughter lights up when she sees her mum Victoria, as this is quite common.

Infant girls are very quick to pick up on someone being happy, and are just as quick to respond to sad or frightening facial expressions. They may burst into tears if they sense the person minding them is anxious or distressed.

Boys, on the other hand, take longer to respond to a parent's or carer's emotional state. They are too busy moving about, and wiggle a lot more in their cots than girls do, and so are more focused on action than on what's going on around them.

It ties in with current research which claims that infant boys are more likely to end up in accident and emergency with injuries. Broken limbs occur after boys break loose from parents' control because they want to move about independently.

Boys express anxiety and fear later than girls. A recent survey claims that the parents of boys aged three to 12 months are much less likely to report that their child responds negatively in response to loud noises or sudden movements than the parents of girls in the same age group.


Meanwhile, another study has revealed that when mothers made a fearful face as their 12-month-olds approached a toy, the boys disregarded the mother's warning and went for the play thing anyway. Girls slowed their approach.

However, in spite of all their moving about and fearlessness, boys do not begin walking any sooner than girls do.

Baby girls are good listeners. Current research shows that girls prefer the sound of human voices to other sounds.

Put music on and you'll see no difference in how newborn girls and boys react -- yet when you begin talking baby girls are more likely to turn in your direction and lock onto your facial expressions.

It results in girls talking sooner than boys. They begin imitating sounds sooner in an attempt to join in on the conversation, and girls understand what a parent is saying before boys do. They will start to speak at around 12 months, compared to 13 to 14 months for boys.

And at 16 months, girls have as many as 100 words, while the average boy has closer to 30.

Meanwhile, boys really do prefer blue and girls like pink, and there isn't much anybody can do about it according to researchers who found that these differences have a basis in evolution and that females developed a preference for reddish colours associated with riper fruit and healthier faces.