Have you ever thought about your baby’s thoughts? Are they formulating thoughts in the traditional way that we experience thoughts? Witnessing your little one explore the world with wide eyes and curious expressions sparks many questions about what might be going on inside their developing minds. This article aims to shed light on the captivating world of infant cognition, offering insights into what babies might think about during these precious early years.

 

Sensory Marvels

Your baby is immersed in a symphony of sensory experiences from the outset. Those adorable coos and gurgles might be their way of expressing fascination with the sights, sounds, and gentle touches around them. Research has shown that newborns have a natural affinity for faces and the soothing tones of human voices, indicating an early interest in the social world. The fact that they can only see about 30cm ahead of them means they are most often focused on faces. Yes, Mom and Dad, they want to be around your familiar voices and unique scent. 

Believe it or not, babies are also absorbing words. “Another 2019 study suggests that even days-old newborns can pick out individual words from a string of continuous speech, while an earlier study found that babies may know the meaning of many common nouns at six months.”

 

Playing Hide and Seek with Objects

Have you ever wondered why your baby seems fascinated by peek-a-boo games? It’s probably one of the first games we play with them, and it’s somewhat instinctual for us. It turns out that those giggles and expressions of delight might be linked to their developing understanding of object permanence—the realisation that things continue to exist even when they’re out of sight. As your baby grows, you’ll witness their spatial awareness expanding as they navigate and explore their surroundings with an innate sense of curiosity.

 

Activating Memory

While language is linked to being able to recall events, research highlights that the hippocampus of an infant’s brain is actively engaged as it develops. Research suggests that babies “as young as three months old engage the hippocampus — a part of the brain that’s essential for memory — when viewing a sequence of objects.”

 

Embracing Emotional Connections

The heart-melting smiles, the tiny tears, and the warmth of little hands reaching out—your baby is not just a bundle of joy but also a budding social being. Recent studies suggest that infants as young as a few months old can imitate facial expressions and recognise emotions in others. Those early interactions and shared moments are building blocks for your baby’s emotional intelligence. Go ahead and have some fun with your baby. Pull funny faces, mimic serious faces and see what happens.

 

Take joy in knowing that your baby’s mind is a vibrant landscape of discovery. From the mesmerising world of senses to the joy of shared emotions, your little one actively engages with the world around them. While the exact thoughts of babies may remain a mystery, the journey of exploration and learning is a beautiful adventure shared between you and your growing bundle of joy.

 

References:

Johnson, M.H. (2005). Subcortical face processing. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6(10), 766-774.

Lewkowicz, D.J., & Ghazanfar, A.A. (2006). The decline of cross-species intersensory perception in human infants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(17), 6771-6774.

Baillargeon, R. (1987). Object permanence in 3.5- and 4.5-month-old infants. Developmental Psychology, 23(5), 655-664.

Slater, A., & Johnson, S.P. (1998). The role of experience in spatial development: Evidence from blind children. Psychological Science, 9(3), 214-219.

References:

Meltzoff, A.N., & Moore, M.K. (1977). Imitation of facial and manual gestures by human neonates. Science, 198(4312), 75-78.

Sroufe, L.A., & Waters, E. (1977). Heart rate as a convergent measure in clinical and developmental research. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, 23(1), 3-27.