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What Is Object Permanence For Babies? And How To Help Them Develop It

Ever wondered why your little bundle of joy is so fascinated by peek-a-boo? Or why they burst into giggles when you play hide-and-seek with their favourite toy? That’s because of a fascinating concept called object permanence

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “object what-now?”. Don’t worry, it’s a concept that sounds way fancier than it actually is. In fact, it’s all about how your bundle of joy figures out that just because they can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s gone for good (I know, mind-blowing, right?).

In this guide we’ll be covering:

  • What is object permanence?
  • When does object permanence develop?
  • Ways to develop object permanence

What Is Object Permanence?

Picture this: your baby is playing with their stuffed dinosaur, and you decide to cover it with a cloth. For a very young baby, the dino essentially ceases to exist in their mind as soon as it’s out of sight. But as they grow and learn, they start to grasp that the dino is still somewhere, just temporarily hidden from view. This understanding – that objects have a “permanent” existence, even when we can’t see them – is the essence of object permanence.

Why is it so important, you ask? Understanding object permanence is a significant milestone in your child’s cognitive development. It’s like their brain levelling up – from thinking the world only exists when they see it, to realising that things have a consistent existence beyond their immediate senses.

This newfound superpower opens up a whole new world of exploration and learning. It’s the foundation for memory development, problem-solving skills, and even social interactions. Think about it: when your kiddo hides their own face during peek-a-boo, they’re testing out their understanding of object permanence. And when they search for that hidden toy, they’re flexing their cognitive muscles by using memory cues to find it.

When Does Object Permanence Develop?

According to the pioneering work of Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist known for his research on child development, object permanence typically starts to develop in infants around 8 months of age. However, newer studies are saying that babies might actually start getting this idea between 4 and 7 months old. 

Remember, everyone’s different – some babies might figure it out even earlier, and some might take a bit more time to reach this milestone.

How To Develop Object Permanence In My Child?

Now that we’ve uncovered the mystery behind object permanence, let’s get into the action-packed part – helping your little one become a pro at it! 

  • Classic peekaboo: Ah, the timeless game of peekaboo! It’s like a battle of wits between you and your baby. Hold up a soft toy or your hands to your face, and then dramatically reveal them with a cheerful “peekaboo!” Your baby’s giggles are like victory cheers in this exciting contest of hide-and-seek.
  • Object exploration: Provide your tiny explorer with different toys that have movable parts, like flaps to lift or doors to open. This not only keeps their curiosity alive but also gives them a chance to understand that things can be hidden and then found again.
  • Where’s that noise: Introduce your baby to sound games. For instance, hide a toy that makes noise under a blanket and encourage your baby to find it by following the sound. They’ll learn that even though they can’t see it, it’s still there making noise.

Remember that you’re not just fostering a sense of object permanence – you’re also nurturing your baby’s curiosity, problem-solving skills, and understanding of the world around them. So, embrace those “peekaboo” giggles, celebrate the toy-finding victories, and treasure the tiny “aha!” moments that make this journey oh-so-magical.

Want To Stay Ahead Of The Curve?

Take a look at our Grow with Me development toy boxes. Rather than worrying about their developmental progress after they’re born, leave that to us. We provide a monthly research-based sensory subscription for developing cognitive & motor skills through play in 0-24 month-olds, leaving you to focus on spending quality time with your new family addition!