Babies’ Memory between Six to Fifteen Months

A Quick Learner
Memory helps us make sense of the world and of ourselves. Our ability to remember what happened forms a part of our identity. 

  • A baby’s developing memory provides building blocks for learning and different kinds of information are organized in different ways. 
  • A baby do not remember their first months, at least no one has been able to find out a way to make a child describe their memories. 
  • A one-year-old baby may recall a special event, like a trip. 
  • But a baby’s language is limited so it is difficult to know what a baby can remember. 
Many people think that the information about facts goes into one place and that this type of memory develops before a child can remember not only the date of her birthday but also the things that happened to her on her first birthday party.

Milk is on its way

Memory starts to develop in the womb, and a baby’s memory soon allows her to recognise your face. A baby is a quick learner, and she remembers that milk is on its way, and that is why she becomes excited before the milk reaches her mouth. A couple of months later, she will show excitement when food is being prepared.

Things that drop to the floor

  • At six months, some babies are turning to look at the correct person when you say their name – if you say, “Mummy” or “Daddy” your baby may look.
  • Your baby may want to see where the teddy bear that she dropped went, and she will look for toys and other things that fall to the floor.
  • Your baby will recall different familiar routines and she will remember what happened last time you put her to bed.
  • And yes, your baby does remember the doctor’s visit and the unpleasant needle.  
  • A couple of months later, she will look where you have just hidden a toy. 
  • If you put a toy underneath a cup, she will remember it and turn up the cup to look for the toy. 
Long-term memory  
That babies have a short-term memory quickly becomes clear. 

But what about their long-term memory? Does a baby’s reluctance to smile towards granddad that does not visit on regular basis, indicate that she does not remember him? 

  •  Between six and twelve months, a baby will recognise people she has not seen for a couple of days. 
  • Gradually a baby  will become more attached to the surroundings and to people that she is familiar with. 
  • Around the first birthday, a baby shows sign of being strongly attached to people and things.  
  • The context is important for what a baby will remember. 
  • As long as things are not taken out of context, a baby will remember it. 
  • Insignificant changes to an adult can lead to a baby reacting to the unfamiliarity. 
  • Small changes to toys and songs will be noticed.

“Give me the dog, please.”
Around the first birthday, a baby will remember a short simple instruction and will act upon it.  

If you look at your one-year-old and say something such as, “Give me your train, please”, she will give you the train. 

  • More and more words are added to the vocabulary and a baby will start to recognise a word and remember the dog’s face. 
  • At fifteen months, a baby will remember the words that come next in nursery rhymes and songs. 
  • If you play with a puzzle for a while and then give your child a new puzzle. Your child will solve the second puzzle faster, if it is a similar kind. 
  • Watching your toddler search for her soft toy not only involves “I remember the toy”, but also “I remember where I left it”. 
In a study, a range of sounds were played to children aged between 1 and 10 months. The children also held a variety of objects, two years later, the children repeated the experiences, and they remembered many of the sounds and objects.

Memory Tips to Remember 

  • Look at your baby when you want her to remember something. 
  • Eye contact is important, and remember to say your baby’s name first when you ask for something.  
  • Memory activities like hiding things under a cup are fun – remember short sessions so that your baby does not get tired or bored.
  • Try to involve more than one of the senses. 
  • Babies learn by watching and doing, and repeating an action many times helps infants to remember how something is done. 
  • Repetitive stories, games, and songs are a wonderful way to promote memory development.  

Photo: Kids On The Move by Vlado

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