Hiding Games (Cups and Balls, Peekaboo) help babies learn that things exist even when they can’t see them. This object permanence understanding is a fundamental step in human brain development and helps deal with separation anxiety. Babies first come to this understanding from around 3-4 months and it is easier for them to make the discovery if you partially cover up a favourite toy with a blanket then they can see some of it and some of it is hidden. This helps them to see that the complete toy still exists even though they can only see e.g., the teddy bear’s head.
Cause and Effect Games includes:
These games that illustrate the physical nature of cause and effect in the world help babies learn that there are consequences to actions. Again, a vital and fundamental learning step.
Babies like doing things repetitively so try not to be bored by your baby’s insatiable desire to repeat actions even if it’s banging a wooden spoon on a pan. Neural pathways in the brain develop by repetition – this is how the neural pathways are literally made, thicker, stronger and maintained. Repetition of these first developmental steps ensures a solid foundation from which other learning will spring as they reach nursery and beyond.
Playing these games with your baby also helps develop the bond between you. Nothing is more important for your baby’s future happiness and independence that a secure bond with their primary caregivers.
In the first few months of introducing your baby to solid food, it can sometimes feel like more of it ends up on the floor than in baby’s mouth! Your baby isn’t trying to be naughty though, they are being a mini-scientist. They are learning about gravity, cause and effect and their influence on the world. If you place a washable mat under your baby’s high chair, you can pick up the food again and very little needs to go to waste.
In the same way that physical objects affect other physical objects, there is cause and effect between people. By spending lots of time copying and taking turns with your baby you will show her and teach her that when she communicates with you, you respond. Developmental psychologists refer to this as ‘serve and return’ interactions. Though it seems simple to us, it is a vital part of your baby’s cognitive and social/emotional development. To feel heard and be sensitively responded to is crucially important in both your baby’s thinking but also the bonding process between you both.