Your Child's Brain in Week 71
You learned back in week 40 that your child follows your gaze to determine what's important for him to notice. Now, between 12 months and 18 months, he's even more in tune with your glances: Your toddler notices not just that you've turned your head, but also where your eyes are looking. He has realized that your eyes communicate your interests and thoughts. Your toddler is so keen on what you're watching, he'll likely point to it and vocalize about it as well!
What the Research Shows
Researchers had children aged 12 months, 14 months, and 18 months sit on their mothers' laps in a laboratory. A researcher in the lab would play with various objects, then look away at a toy across the room. Some of the researchers wore headbands; others wore blindfolds. In trial after trial, the youngsters followed the gazes of the researchers wearing headbands, but not those of the ones wearing blindfolds.
The toddlers weren't just watching a head turn toward an object, they were noticing where the person was looking. When a researcher wore a headband, the children knew that he could see and therefore followed his gaze toward the toy across the room. But the children knew that the blindfolded researcher couldn't possibly look at anything—let alone anything interesting—so they didn't bother following when he turned his head.
Week 71 Brain Booster
A child's inclination to follow gazes is about survival and efficient learning. You are a powerful source of knowledge, and your child knows it! Moreover, he wants to learn what you know by seeing what you see. (Or doing what you do, as you know what a copycat he still is right now.)
Don't think you can just set out toys for your child to play with so that you can read your novel, bird watch out the window, or thumb through a box of old photos. Your child will be interested in what you're gazing at, and will want to get involved (perhaps much to your exasperation). He is not simply mimicking your behavior, he is following your thinking by watching (and grabbing for and maybe scribbling on) what you're involved with.
Coming soon, look forward to: Week 72: Interest in Interactive Robots
Review the most recent accomplishments: Week 70: Sorting Objects into Categories (All by Herself!)
Curious about how else your toddler might be developing right now? Learn more about her clever brain and her growing body here: