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Man with baby (symbolic image)

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Babies have the ability to make those around them care about their well-being.

Like carrying them and rocking them.

In a review paper, Audrey van der Meer from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim discovered a pattern: Most people hold a baby in their left arm rather than their right.

Artistic depictions also reflect this behavior: “The Virgin Mary is usually depicted cradling the baby Jesus in the crook of her left arm.”

Van der Meer examined existing data and meta-analyses on the topic for a review article.

The preference to keep left was evident for all cultures and ethnic groups and over centuries.

There are various theories about the reasons: One is that a baby is mainly carried on the left arm because it can then hear the heartbeat better: In almost all people, the heart is on the left side.

Another theory is related to sensory perception: the left ear and eye would be used to receive information about the baby's emotional state - signals from the left are sent to the right hemisphere of the brain, which is specialized in interpreting emotions and faces.

However, according to van der Meer, there is most likely a much simpler reason: you want to have your “better” arm free so you can continue using it – and “9 out of 10 people in the world are right-handed.”

There are many pictures of Prince William carrying one of his children as a baby with his right arm.

“He’s left-handed,” says van der Meer.

Princess Kate, on the other hand, is right-handed and, like most people, tends to hold babies in her left arm.

The fact that the left arm is favored only applies to babies: "As children get bigger and heavier, most people tend to carry them with their dominant and stronger arm," it said.

Van der Meer's analysis was published online in the journal "Infancy" in December.