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.
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.
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.”
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”.
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