Your Child's Brain in Week 70
Balls and blocks seem like drastically different playthings to your 18-month-old—and not just because of how you and she play with them together. Your toddler's categorization skills are being fine-tuned these days. You might remember learning last year in week 39 that studies show babies as young as 3 months old notice when a picture of a dog interrupts a series of pictures of kittens. At 7 months, babies can't quite distinguish between pictures of airplanes and birds—but they can detect those subtleties between 9 and 11 months.
Now the categorization discussion continues, because beginning at 12 months and then reliably at 18 months babies can sort objects into categories on their own.
What the Research Shows
Researchers gave older babies and toddlers four different toy horses and four different pencils, all mixed up in a pile. The 9- and 10-month-olds picked up the horses and pencils (yes, they were supervised!) and played with them, but did so pretty much at random.
The 12-month-olds, however, would sometimes pick up all the objects in one group (all the horses or all the pencils) and put them in the researcher's hand or in a single pile on the table. And the older children, at 18 months, would systematically sort the objects into two separate groups, unassisted.
Week 70 Brain Booster
You may soon notice your child playing by herself regularly, putting toy vehicles in one pile and toy people in another. It's obvious that she's interested in organizing her world and is proving it by sorting objects. It's a mental exercise that comes naturally to young children.
Capitalize on this interest by organizing your play space in a way that will make sense to your child: Provide boxes, baskets, or bins, and place them all at a level she can access. Designate one for dolls, one for blocks, one for vehicles, one for toy animals, and so on. Before bedtime, sort any toys scattered on the floor into their appropriate containers. Involve your child (though most likely, she'll already be arranging them alongside you).