Your Brilliant Baby in Week 37: Understanding Disappearance
What your infant learns this week
Baby’s Brain in Week 37
Take a guess: How many hours have you spent playing peek-a-boo so far this year? Whether two or 200, that time has been well-spent not only by making Baby giggle, but also by enforcing a key concept he learned many weeks ago: Objects—and mommies, too!—continue to exist even when they’re out of sight.
Now, at about nine months, another mental developmental shift occurs with regard to your child’s understanding of object permanence: When you completely cover a set of keys with a hand towel, your child will lift the towel, revealing the hidden keys.
But before now, your child couldn’t have cared less.
What the Research Shows
By conducting experiments that involved six- to nine-month-olds, researchers observed that by nine months, babies will eagerly—and repeatedly—look for hidden objects. In a very unofficial study, one mom reported that her daughter Darya, age 11 months, set up her own home trials relating to disappearance involving a table runner and a small plate.
Darya likely hypothesized that the plate would still exist even when covered up by the table runner. To test this, she took the plate, hid it under the table runner, waited a little while, and then uncovered it. She conducted this experiment several times each day for about a week, her mom says.
Think about all the discoveries your own baby makes through repeated play every day, and you’ll realize that children are indeed little scientists, determining for themselves the complexities of the world. (In this specific instance, though, a child’s fascination with hiding and finding continues until about age 24 months, when the concept of object permanence takes hold completely. Even so, peek-a-boo and hide and seek will continue to be favorite games for months—if not years—to come!)
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