Thursday, 20 June 2013
Your baby’s sex is decided at the moment of conception and it all hangs on whether your X-chromosome (female) egg is fertilized by an X-chromosome or Y-chromosome (male) sperm. If an X chromosome penetrates the egg first it’s X + X, meaning you have conceived a baby girl. But if a Y-chromosome sperm gets there first, X + Y results in you conceiving a baby boy.
There has long been debate over whether nature or nurture is responsible for the differences between baby boys and baby girls – but MRI scanning techniques have revealed over a hundred minute differences between the male and female brain and these come into play the minute your baby is born, becoming even more apparent as he grows. He has higher levels of testosterone in his body and this impacts on how he processes, stores and retrieves information. He’ll respond very differently to the world around him than a baby girl will, and when it comes to raising him it can help to keep this in mind.
So what can you expect from your baby boy?
Nappy changes are easier with a baby boy
As a rule it’ll be easier to clean your baby boy when you change his nappy, simply because poo tends to make its way into a baby girl’s vagina. No such problem with a baby boy. And don’t be surprised if your baby boy gets erections – it’s perfectly normal and you may see it at every nappy change. It can often signal that he is about to pee, so have a towel ready at nappy changes to avoid a soaking!
Boys sometimes walk sooner
Baby boys are more active than baby girls from day one, and will tend to kick and wriggle more. Boys also tend to have better gross motor skills than girls, so for that reason they may get on the move sooner and walk earlier than girls, and will tend to be much happier when they’re running or kicking a ball about. It means that you’ll probably have to encourage him more when it comes to getting him to sit down and do a task that involves concentrating and using fine motor skills, such as colouring. But it’s really in the late toddler and early preschool years that your boy will forge ahead when it comes to physical abilities and strength.
Boys prefer cars to dolls
Baby boys prefer to watch mechanical motion rather than human motion. Your baby boy will be more spatially aware than a baby girl and better able to track motion – and it could be one reason for the fact that your efforts to be politically correct and get him to play with dolls will likely fall by the wayside as he clamours for his train set and toy cars!
Boys talk later than girls
Studies suggest that male brains have fewer nerve cells in the area of the brain that processes language and this may be why they often don’t vocalize as early or as clearly as girls the same age, and use less complex sentences once they do start talking. Speech delays are diagnosed in boys much more frequently than girls, so while you should expect him to be slightly behind girls the same age, get him assessed for a speech delay if he isn’t keeping up with other boys his age.
Boys are more emotional than you think
Your little boy may be a bigger softy at heart than a baby girl as he grows. Boys aren’t so good at socializing and communicating as girls and this often makes them less independent and more shy when it comes to mixing with others. You may find that your baby boy is more upset at being separated from you than a baby girl would be and that he's actually more into cuddles with mummy!
However, as your baby boy grows he won’t be as adept as a girl at expressing his strong emotions – one reason why girls are more likely to talk things through and listen to reason when boys might be more likely to hit out. Help your boy by giving him the vocabulary he needs to label his emotions and express them verbally. If you see him looking cranky, tell him that’s how he feels – once he knows the right words to use, he’ll be more likely to use them.
There’s no doubt that boys and girls are different and that working with those differences can help you be a happy parent raising a happy baby boy. But do bear in mind that your baby boy is an individual and be prepared for some exceptions to the rules.
Baby boys are more at risk of poor health
Keep a close eye on your baby boy’s health in his first weeks and months as baby boys are more vulnerable to respiratory infections. They are more likely to suffer from bronchiolitis (a common illness in infancy) as well as wheezing and asthma. Baby boys who are born prematurely also fare less well than baby girls. Physically, boys have less mature skeletal systems, and this means that they’re more susceptible to injuring themselves than girls – the fact they are more physically active as they grow raises this risk.
Have you found out you are having a baby boy? Speak to other mums who have just found out too or start a chat on our gurgle forum.
The information in this feature is intended for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your health, the health of your child or the health of someone you know, please consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional.