Baby's Brain in Week 42
Between nine and 11 months, your baby most likely pairs the watering can you use inside your home with your household plants, and the hose you use outdoors with your garden flowers. If you brought the hose in the house to water your indoor plants, your baby would be perplexed, wondering, "What in the world is Mommy doing?"
Likewise, right now your baby probably couples coffee cups with people and your keys with the family car. It's these pairings that are helping her make even greater sense of her increasingly fascinating world.
What the Research Shows
In an experiment, nine- and 11-month-old subjects were tested on four properties: two appropriate to animals and two appropriate to vehicles. The researchers demonstrated for the babies that animals drink and sleep, and vehicles give rides and use keys. Then the babies were given the opportunity to use the toys themselves. The question was: Would they pair the correct activity with the correct object? Most of the babies made the accurate pairing—and the babies closer to their eleventh month were even more accurate that those in their ninth.
To further explore babies' skills, researchers then offered them unfamiliar animal toys (an ox and anteater) and unfamiliar vehicle toys (a forklift and front loader). They wanted to see if the children would generalize the attributes of the familiar toys to the unfamiliar ones. Indeed, the babies used a key on the front loader and the forklift and gave dolls rides on them. They fed the anteater and the ox, and put them to bed.