Pavlov’s boy

It’s noticeable how, at the age of four months, Toby has already become ingrained with certain learned behaviours – or, as the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov (as in ‘Pavlov’s dogs‘) put it, ‘conditional reflex’ – where he gives an automatic response to specific repetitive actions.

He can be howling for England, but if you take him upstairs and lie him on his towel on the bathroom floor, he will immediately break into raucous, joyful laughter and start waving all four limbs in happiness because he knows it’s time for his bath, something he adores. Putting him down on the mat for a nappy change elicits much the same response.

And when we’re putting him to sleep, even if he’s starting to grizzle with (over)tiredeness, singing ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’ to him will always elicit a little smile and a state of floppiness, as if he suddenly lets out a big sigh of relief and thinks, “At last! Thank God for that.”

I haven’t yet succeeded in training him to sit up and beg, so I can send a video in to one of those ‘funniest home video’ shows, but I’m working on it …