It’s one of those strange things, but it’s difficult not to yawn after seeing someone opposite you doing exactly that. However babies manage not to fall prey to contagious yawning and unlike adults, they only yawn when they want to!
According to the University of Stirling, babies and toddlers almost never yawn back at someone who yawns at them. Furthermore, in stark contrast to adults who yawn up to 9 times a day, babies between the ages of 6 – 34 months only do it twice a day.
With 50% of adults admitting that they yawn when they see someone else doing it, the study put babies to the test to see if they are prone to contagious yawning too. After being shown videos of other babies yawning, only 3 out of the 22 who took part yawned when they saw the baby on the screen yawn.
Although they are seemingly immune to the contagious yawning when they are young, children do pick up on it as they get older, the study also found. By the age of 12, children will catch up with adults and yawn at the same rate as adults. Researchers believe that this is because they would have picked up on empathy, which children don’t develop until they’re at least 3 years old.