“Thinking steps” in the first year of life

The world is for a baby at first "as it is". But towards the end of its first year of life, it can already use targeted means to achieve something.

Already the baby would like to be able to "understand the world

A child also plays an active role in its mental development from the very beginning: From birth, it already perceives its environment with all its senses and deals with its environment, objects and actions in its very own way. It grasps and checks connections, processes its impressions and ideas and "feels its way" to new "insights":

  • Is what I perceive already familiar or unfamiliar to me?
  • Does it signal something important, such as the impending meal?
  • Is it pleasant or unpleasant?
  • Is it in any way related to my own behavior?
  • Can I evoke it again through my behavior?

At just a few months of age, an infant is already able to combine its various sensory experiences to form its first simple ideas – about the objects in its environment, but also about you, your behavior, your shape and its own body.

Your child makes these experiences above all in togetherness and exchange with you – if you encourage him, talk to him, confirm him and share the pleasure he has in his play with the things.

Out of sight, out of mind

Until around eight months of age, your baby only sees and experiences what he sees and experiences immediately: if you hide under a cloth or leave the room, for example, you are gone for your child. The stuffed animal that slipped under the covers no longer exists.

At about six or seven months, your baby begins to develop a first idea of things. It is now more and more able to recognize and distinguish everyday objects.

First recollection

At about eight, nine months, a child can briefly store its idea of an object as a memory. It gradually begins to understand that people and things are still there even when they have disappeared from its field of vision: Your child is now looking for its toy or wants you to find it. And if you were hiding under a cloth, it now knows that you are still there.

Your child now wants to tirelessly put this exciting realization to the test in his play:

  • Where does the ball roll to, where does his toy disappear to when it falls on the floor?
  • He covers his cuddly toy with the pillow, then immediately takes the pillow away again: Is the teddy bear really still there??

But your child will probably have the most fun when you play "peek-a-boo" with him or her – hiding your face under the cushion or behind the back of the chair, for example, only to emerge the next moment with a laughing "peek-a-boo.".

First intentions

Around the same time – at eight, nine months – your child makes another great discovery: for example, when he pulls the string of his music box, the music sounds. If he moves his arm, the rattle in his hand makes sounds, and if he pulls the string of his running duck, it comes so close that he can grab it.

Your child begins to understand the effects of simple actions and the first connections between cause and effect. It can now already use specific means to achieve something and tries out this experience with the greatest pleasure on the most varied things:

  • Does the bear growl when it presses its belly?
  • Does the light go on when he presses the light switch??
  • Water flows out of the faucet when it opens it?

In the following years, too, important steps in mental development can be recognized above all by what a child is currently doing well and enjoying: The child’s play usually gives a good indication of the new "knowledge" that the child is on the trail of at any given moment.

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