If you watch how your baby grows and develops, you might presume they don’t have the cognitive, social or emotional ability to understand much about the world around them. But, they are in fact focused on figuring out how the world works. Babies methodically analyse objects and people around them, making predictions, and experimenting. When the outcome isn’t as expected, your baby reviews and engages in further investigation. So, what can your baby do before they hit one?
- Babies recall very early experiences
In one landmark experiment, pregnant women read The Cat in the Hat aloud twice a day during the last six weeks of pregnancy to their babies. Shortly after birth, these newborns showed a preference for this book over other children’s stories. Their preference was indicated by how strongly they sucked on pacifiers while the story was read to them. Even more remarkable is that these infants preferred The Cat in the Hat to other stories regardless of who read the book to them.
- Babies know right from wrong
By six months, babies understand right and wrong. To demonstrate these abilities, researchers had infants watch a puppet push a ball up a hill. Then a second puppet either helped or hindered the effort. Later, when given a choice, babies played more with the helper puppet, with some even pushing away the “naughty” puppet. In the research, infants as young as three months who were not old enough to play with puppets spent more time looking at the nice puppet, showing that a discernment of good and bad behaviour is in place just 12 weeks after birth.
3. Babies want to be helpful
When researchers put one-year-olds in situations where a stranger was either struggling to open a closet door with full hands or trying to pick up an object beyond their reach, the babies spontaneously stopped what they were doing and tried to help. The infants would pick up the object for the stranger or try to help the person open the door!
- Babies are intrigued by variety and surprise
Surprises allow babies to observe closely and even attempt to figure out the unknown. This tendency is demonstrated in a study where 11-month-olds were shown balls behaving in predictable and in surprising ways. For example, babies saw a ball roll down a ramp. Sometimes a wall stopped it. But other times it seemed to pass through it. Later, the infants were more interested in exploring the “magic” ball when it had defied their expectations. What’s the lesson? If you want to encourage your baby’s curiosity, know that surprises are the key.
- Babies know if you’re not paying attention
You’ve probably experienced it yourself, when you’re unresponsive to your child they immediately try to re-engage you. But when your don’t respond as your normally would, your child will sob, shriek and thrust to try to get your attention. This back-and-forth reveals just how remarkably complex the emotional intelligence of infants is and the extreme power of everyday parent/infant interaction.
- Babies are good judges of character
You know that babies are expert imitators. But what you might not know is that infants don’t imitate just anyone. Beginning around the time of their first birthday, they automatically keep track of the credibility of others and no longer mimic those they consider untrustworthy.
That’s the WHAT and WHY. For the HOW, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.