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Your Brilliant Baby in Week 37: Understanding Disappearance

Baby’s Brain in Week 37

Take a guess: How many hours have you spent playing peek-a-boo so far this year? Whether two or 200, that time has been well-spent not only by making Baby giggle, but also by enforcing a key concept he learned many weeks ago: Objects—and mommies, too!—continue to exist even when they’re out of sight.

Now, at about nine months, another mental developmental shift occurs with regard to your child’s understanding of object permanence: When you completely cover a set of keys with a hand towel, your child will lift the towel, revealing the hidden keys.
But before now, your child couldn’t have cared less.

What the Research Shows

By conducting experiments that involved six- to nine-month-olds, researchers observed that by nine months, babies will eagerly—and repeatedly—look for hidden objects. In a very unofficial study, one mom reported that her daughter Darya, age 11 months, set up her own home trials relating to disappearance involving a table runner and a small plate.

Darya likely hypothesized that the plate would still exist even when covered up by the table runner. To test this, she took the plate, hid it under the table runner, waited a little while, and then uncovered it. She conducted this experiment several times each day for about a week, her mom says.

Think about all the discoveries your own baby makes through repeated play every day, and you’ll realize that children are indeed little scientists, determining for themselves the complexities of the world. (In this specific instance, though, a child’s fascination with hiding and finding continues until about age 24 months, when the concept of object permanence takes hold completely. Even so, peek-a-boo and hide and seek will continue to be favorite games for months—if not years—to come!)

Week 37 Brain Booster

To support your child’s interest in disappearance, keep those hiding games coming. Buy a jack-in-the-box (or any pop-up toy for that matter) and play with it together over and over again. Any fun that relates to disappearance meshes well with your child’s intellectual agenda right now; these activities not only solidify your child’s interest in the permanence of objects, but your relationship with him as well.

Your Week 37 Toolbox

Related skills and topics this week include …

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