lil'bee

How does baby memory develop?

Thinking & Learning   |   Age: 5 months


article_10757.jpg

How does baby memory develop?

Elephants might never forget, but babies aren’t so absent-minded either. Even at the ripe age of 24 hours old, most babies are already starting to compartmentalize sights, smells, and sounds. For instance, the average baby will recognize her parents’ faces after just one week of “oohs” and “aahs.” Gradually, each baby learns how to make sense of all this stored information and apply it to everyday experiences like nursing sessions, diaper changes, and meeting people.

While most people don’t remember too much of their babyhood, there is evidence both that your baby’s experiences now will help shape the person that she becomes whether she remembers them or not, and that the way you talk to her influences how much of her early childhood she will remember. A 2009 study in Child Development suggests that children whose parents talk about their past, memories, or even the things they’ve done earlier in the day, in a more narrative way start to have distinct memories at an earlier average age. Babies start to build unconscious memories from their earliest days, building experiences and recognition, and some evidence suggests that the memories they can describe later develop along similar lines to their growing grasp of language.

The term "infantile amnesia" refers to normal process where people regularly forget most of the events that happen in their lives before some time around the age of 3, unless a very dramatic or traumatic event, like a broken bone, or a death in the family sticks in their minds. Younger children, including children as old as 7 have fairly good recall of their early lives, but as they grow older, early memories often fade.

How you can help

Recent research by the University of Sheffield suggests that for the things you want to help your baby learn how to do might go better shortly before her nap. For longer-term memories, though, the answer to encouraging them is even simpler - just talk to your baby about her life. Learning to think about the world in a narrative way will help give her the framework to think about her recent and, eventually, more distant past. It’s never too early to start, either. Maybe it doesn’t look like your baby is listening to you quite yet, but you never know when she will start understanding every word you say.

As a parent, you can boost your baby’s memory-making skills by regularly engaging her in songs and games. Before long, your baby should start to recognize the sound of your voice during a spirited rendition of “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” or a round of Peek-A-Boo. your baby may even try to mimic what you’re doing. This is a healthy sign of memory retention that also doubles as a perfect moment for grabbing the video camera. Which brings us to…

Making memories last

When we are told of stories from our own baby years, most of us find ourselves scratching our heads, saying things like, “Wow. Did I really eat sand at Venice Beach?” Keeping a record of your baby’s early childhood milestones - with a generous helping of heartwarming and embarrassing moments - is a gift that will pay off for decades. When she gets older, the two of you can relive these memories together and enjoy the closeness that such shared life experience instills.


More articles at this age

Why do babies have flat feet?


Take a close look at your baby's feet. Closer. Closer. NOT THAT CLOSE! Ok perfect. Notice anything strange? If you just thought to yourself, "hey, why are your baby's feet flat?", sit tight, because you're about to find out.

6 tips for taking baby to a restaurant


What happens when you're desperate to try that new Costa Rican cafe that's racking up rave reviews on Yelp, but you don't have time to track down a babysitter? Nine times out of ten, you'll just have to bring your baby with you. Understandably, the thought of taking a baby into a restaurant environment can make many parents nervous just thinking about it, but this shared experience can be surprisingly fun - if you plan ahead.

Dental health 101


Your dental health is something you engage with every day. You eat, drink, brush your teeth, and maybe floss once in a while. But how much do you really know about your dental health?

6 tips for taking baby to a restaurant


What happens when you're desperate to try that new Costa Rican cafe that's racking up rave reviews on Yelp, but you don't have time to track down a babysitter? Nine times out of ten, you'll just have to bring your baby with you. Understandably, the thought of taking a baby into a restaurant environment can make many parents nervous just thinking about it, but this shared experience can be surprisingly fun - if you plan ahead.

Dental health 101


Your dental health is something you engage with every day. You eat, drink, brush your teeth, and maybe floss once in a while. But how much do you really know about your dental health?

How to make healthy and cost-effective baby food


Thanks to the rise of food blogs and gourmet Instagram feeds, it can be tempting to think of every day as a new opportunity for dining out. Unfortunately, eating out all the time can hit your bank account harder than a weekend in Vegas. And believe it or not, the same rule applies to store-bought baby food. So why not make your own?

Welcome to lil'bee!

It looks like you're using an ad blocker. That's okay. Who doesn't? But without advertising-income, we can't keep making this site awesome. Please disable your ad blocker and refresh this page.

Thanks for understanding 🙏