A field of grass, damp with dew.
Unsplash | Ochir-Erdene Oyunmedeg

Viral Vid Showing Babies Contorting To Avoid Touching Grass Has People Wondering Why

Of all the things I'd learned today, the fact that babies don't really like touching grass isn't something I'd have expected. But life's full of surprises.

Maybe you've seen a baby do this. Maybe you did it as a baby (but let's be real, it's not like you'd remember it). As it turns out, though, babies try to avoid grass at all costs.

A video showing babies avoiding grass went viral on Twitter.

An infant crawling on a patch of grass.
Unsplash | Callum Hill

In the video, which was originally posted to TikTok, several clips of people holding babies play. The babies are lowered toward patches of grass, and each one moves their legs to avoid their feet from making contact.

Posted to Twitter, the video has been viewed over 15.9 million times.

Twitter user Tansu Yegen posted the clip, saying, "Babies instinctually avoid grass. Do they know something we don’t." The tweet has over 444,000 likes, and plenty of people wondering the same thing.

So, what's the deal with babies hating grass?

In a quote tweet, Annie Wertz linked a study conducted by the Max Planck Institute that may explain why babies try to avoid grass: "hint: we think they’re protecting themselves from potentially harmful plant toxins."

So, let's take a look at the study.

A baby sitting atop a grassy field.
Unsplash | Elisabeth Colucci

Conducted by a team that includes Wertz, the study aimed to understand instinctual behavioral patterns seen in babies, and, as Wertz said in her quote tweet, if they instinctually know if certain plants are dangerous.

The study theorizes that babies do, in fact, avoid dangerous or unknown plants.

Some babies avoid putting their feet on grass, as a defense mechanism of sorts.
Unsplash | Sven Brandsma

An excerpt from the study reads, "because fatally toxic plants can look quite delicate and beautiful, the best behavioral avoidance strategy is to minimize contact with any unknown plant, regardless of how it may look, until one has received additional information about it."

After all, some plants, like poison ivy, are dangerous to the touch.

The paper then details how the study was conducted.

The study showed that infants will take longer to touch plants, as they see them as a potential threat.
Unsplash | Senjuti Kundu

They had a group of infants between the ages of 8 and 18 months, to whom they presented a series of objects, including artificial plants. They found that the babies actually took longer to touch the plants than the other items.

"Without clear social information from adults, infants do indeed take longer to reach out and touch plants than other entities," the study continues.

Babies won't avoid grass forever, of course.
Unsplash | Aaron McClure

A conclusion from this kind of behavior states that this is some kind of built-in defense mechanism.

Babies will avoid touching things that may seem dangerous because they don't know if it's safe to do so.

For babies, any unknown plant (including grass) poses a potential danger.
Unsplash | krakenimages

This is one really interesting way in which babies may be able to protect themselves from potential threats, until adults can show them whether the danger is real or not.

The study also concludes that this shows social learning in babies.

Based on the study's findings, we learn from adults as infants that certain plants like grass are safe to touch.
Unsplash | krakenimages

"This kind of increased social information seeking, operating as part of a behavioral avoidance strategy, puts infants in the best position to glean information from others before making contact with potentially dangerous plants and sets the stage for further social learning processes."

It's kind of amazing how we have defensive instincts straight out of the womb!

A man wondrously saying, "Magic. Absolute magic."
Giphy | Disney+

I guess at some point we all learn that grass is mostly safe. But I'm willing to bet none of us ever thought about how we knew grass was safe.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!