As I write this, I’m babysitting my nearly 3-month-old granddaughter. She’s asleep at the moment, hence my ability to compose a blog post. I am not exaggerating, nor am I the least bit biased when I say that my granddaughter is the most beautiful baby ever born. It is simply a fact.
There is something completely irresistible about babies. Their smiles are so bright, their laughter so enchanting. It’s so much fun seeing them interact with their world. Everything is new to a baby. And they’re so wonderful to hold and cuddle.
Apparently that fascination for babies and the urge to hold them is rather universal among primates. I read a very cool study study here about how vervet monkeys and sooty mangabeys adore new babies. But those primate moms require a certain amount of quid pro quid quo before another female can sniff, touch, or hold their baby.
The medium of exchange in baby cuddling for vervets and mangabeys is grooming of the mother. A vervet who’s just given birth to an adorable infant might require ten minutes of “hair brushing” before she’ll let another female interact with her baby. A female who’s higher status than the mom might get some cuddle time for a shorter grooming session, a lower status might have to work longer. The more babies there are in a group of vervets or mangabey’s, the less they’re “worth” in grooming time. And the older a baby gets, the less interest there is from the other females. In one mangabey group, a baby the age of my granddaughter didn’t even earn its mom four minutes of grooming.
As far as I’m concerned, my sweet grandbaby is worth a whole spa treatment if that’s what my daughter-in-law wants. A massage, some peeled grapes and a box of chocolates, too. She is just that perfect.