From looking up at your face and recognising you when she’s feeding, to getting excited just before the milk reaches her mouth, memory is such an important part of your baby’s understanding. And it starts right from birth – from changing to playtime, she remembers every little thing that you do to comfort, reassure or tend to her needs.
Your baby has five different types of memory, which she uses in some way every day. There’s visual, where she remembers sights, like your face. Then there’s auditory memory, so sounds, like her name, become familiar as you repeat them. Olfactory memory is taste and smells, like your milk. Kinesthetic memory helps her remember movements, like you shaking a favourite toy, and finally, semantic memory, which involves her remembering words and phrases.
Even at six months, most babies love playing peek-a-boo with mum and dad. Your tot will squeal with delight when you ask, “Where’s Mummy?” and hide your face behind your hands. She now knows your face is there, hidden behind your makeshift screen, and she loves pulling your hands away. Games like this only become possible because your baby’s memory has matured sufficiently.
The chances are that your little one’s memory extends to emotional experiences too, and it would be terrific if your baby recalled her first year with affection and warmth. Like all parents, you want your baby to have loving memories of childhood because that gives her a sense of security, self-confidence and a solid psychological basis on which to build her emotional life. To help this process, give her lots of cuddles as often as you can, look lovingly into her eyes when you hold her close, have lots of fun playing with her, and talk to your baby at every opportunity.
Catch your tot’s attention with a small toy. While she looks, place a tissue over the toy so that it’s hidden. She’ll probably lose all interest in it because she thinks, “I’ve forgotten what’s under the tissue”. But play the same game six months later and she pulls the tissue away. By this age, her memory’s much stronger. She thinks, “I knew it was under there all the time.”
Did you know…
“Babies taught to activate a mobile by pulling a ribbon attached to their ankle were able to move the mobile themselves when shown it two weeks later.”
Ways to boost little memories:
- Eye-contact Look directly at your baby when you want her to remember what you’re saying.
- Be lively She remembers vivid experiences more clearly than ones that are less enjoyable and less intense.
- Think laterally Memory’s stronger when the actions involve using xmore than one of the senses.
- Draw her attention She’s more likely to remember something when you’ve attracted her full attention to it.
- Play basic memory games Finding a hidden object, or looking for something just out of sight, are fun memory activities.