baby development

Brain development: Why are boys’ and girls’ different?

What are the differences in development in the brains of boys and girls that can lead them to prefer certain things and do things differently?

Are there differences in boys’ and girls’ brain development?

What are the differences in the way boys’ and girls’ brains develop?

boys and girls brains 474

The human brain is incredibly complex and still not fully understood. To try and understand the differences in boys’ and girls’ brains you have to start in the womb to attempt to work out why they are so different.

Boys in the womb

We know that when boys are in the womb they get a surge of testosterone at some stage between 6 weeks and 24 weeks. The testosterone hormone makes them more impulsive in early years. The cerebellum part of the brain grows quicker in the womb in boys than in girls and this is what controls movement and coordination. 

Girls in the womb

Baby girls’ brains grow slightly slower in the womb that that of boys in the first three months. As their senses start to develop, girls’ vision and hearing develops more sensitively than that of boys.

Baby boys and girls in the first three months

Thought to be a result of sex-related genes, by the age of 3 months, boys and girls brains respond differently to human speech. Girls are usually more socially aware than boys early on and are more likely to respond to human voices or faces. They are more likely to react more strongly than boys to hearing another baby cry. Girls also tend to develop their fine motor and language skills ahead of boys.

Are boys’ naturally more drawn to mechanical toys and girls more to dolls?

Research has shown that boys at one year old are more naturally drawn to mechanical toys over dolls but that girls are naturally drawn to both.

Science says that girls are more likely to:

  • Talk sooner and understand what you're saying before boys - girls are likely to learn to point and wave bye-bye earlier than boys do and by 18 months, on average girls will use around 100 words, whereas boys may be closer to 30-50.
  • Be able to read facial expressions sooner. They more quick to grasp making eye contact and are attracted to watching individuals facial expressions.
  • Girls like to copy as they thrive on communication with you.

Science says boys are more likely to:

  • Enjoy looking at lots of faces rather than one. In fact, studies have shown that a baby boy would rather study a nursery mobile than look at an individual face.
  • They are more fearless - or at least they express fear later and less often.
  • Boys are more capable of watching mechanical motion and keeping track of moving objects - in fact they far prefer it to watching people!

How do we influence our baby boys’ or girls’ gender developments?

As little ones come across new things it encourages connections to develop between brain cells and often these the new experiences for girls and boys are based on their gender. For examples, girls are often given dolls to look after so this naturally encourages the nurturing, caring part of her brain to develop. 

There are natural differences between baby boys’ and girls’ brain development but parents’ choices when raising their baby often has a large impact on the parts of their brain that develop more extensively.

Brain development: Why are boys’ and girls’ different?