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Early parenthood is a memorable time as it is filled with witnessing your baby’s many firsts. His first smile, his first grimace, and even the first time he babbles something. But this may also lead you to wonder – does your baby remember these events?
As parents, this is one of the many questions you may have on your mind– when will my baby start remembering things? Is it right after birth or much later than this? Also, since babies learn to speak only around the time they turn one, it’s difficult to tell what your baby is thinking about and how good his memories are since he can’t communicate verbally.
Well, turns out he has already started! Your baby’s memory is developing in multiple stages. There’s no particular age at which it happens, and it’s a gradual process. But memory in babies begins very early, in fact, even before they are born!
What and When Does a Baby Remember?
According to a publication by Dr. Sinead Mullally and Dr. Eleanor Maguire, babies recognise their caregivers by their face, voice, and smell within the first few weeks of birth. Newborns can recognise their mother’s voice at birth, while breastfed babies can recognise their mother’s smell after one week. At three months, babies can remember new toys or pictures shown to them one to six days prior. By the time the baby is nine months old, he will remember more specific details, like where his toys are in the house. He’ll also be able to copy actions he has seen as long as a week before. While memory is fragile in the first months of life, it improves with age.
Is There a Link Between Memory and Concentration?
Concentration is the ability to sustain one’s attention and focus on an event or task at will. On the other hand, memory is the ability to recall, preserve and obtain information that has happened in the past. In terms of concentrating and remembering information, these abilities are important to the infant’s development. Yes, there is a strong link between memory and concentration. If you cannot concentrate long enough to focus on the details, it is impossible to remember this information at a later stage correctly.
Ways to Boost Your Baby’s Memory
Here are the things you can do during your baby’s first year to help strengthen his memory skills.
1. Add new skills.
Introduce your baby to a new skill over short periods of playtime. For example, if a new toy requires a skill your baby hasn’t learned yet, you can spread out playtime with that particular toy over the entire week. Teach your baby how to play with it, and then reintroduce the toy for five minutes at a time over a couple of days. This will help your little one remember the skill longer than him playing with the toy for a longer period for only a day or two.
2. Encourage consistency.
Keep your baby’s surroundings consistent and create daily routines. Make his playtime predictable for him. If he plays with the same toys at the same time and in the same room every day, he will remember the arrangement much longer than if playtime changes every day. Right now, your baby is only developing his short-term memory.
3. Talk to him.
Talk your baby through your actions to help him remember cause and effect. For example, when you flip the light switch down, show that the light comes on. When you flip it up, the light goes off. Say the words “Light off” and “Light on.” These actions will help your little one learn simple laws and anticipate them the next time you perform the action.
4. Say his name.
Call your baby by his name as much as possible. By four months, he’ll begin to recognise the sound of his name and associate it with your attention to him. When talking to him, saying his name aloud as often as possible will help him remember that the name belongs explicitly to him. Ensure you call yourself “Mommy” as much as possible to help him build the connection.
5. Make sure he’s getting rest.
Your baby will retain information better if he feels relaxed and rested. Don’t try to force him to learn something at every point in time. Let him explore freely during playtime or simply lie with him on the playmat and spend time with him. Make sure you take multiple breaks as this will help your baby consolidate his memories and retain them for a longer time.
Ways to Improve Your Baby’s Concentration
You can try these effective tips to improve his concentration skills.
1. Play games with him.
Playing games with your baby that require him to concentrate is a fun way to help him develop. Simple age-appropriate jigsaws, peg puzzles, and even assembling coloured blocks will help him focus on a task while playing.
2. Focus on foods that can boost his brain development.
The first three years of your child’s life are critical for his mental development. Hence, during this period, the right nutrition, along with proper stimulus can work wonders for his brain development. This, in turn, will help him concentrate better.
3. Turn off unnecessary distractions.
This includes the television. Although concentration is mostly about ignoring distractions, turning off the television will allow your baby to concentrate more fully on you or the activity he’s doing.
4. Observe your baby.
Observing the way your baby chooses to spend his time will make you realise that he is not just lying there but actually doing something. He could be gazing towards a window, staring at the ceiling fan, or simply grasping at dust particles in the sunlight. Every time you interrupt your baby’s musings, you’re discouraging his concentration.
5. Don’t encourage distraction.
It is quite common and sometimes even advised to distract your baby with a toy on the diaper changing table to “get the work done.” But what this does instead is it trains your baby not to pay attention. Baths, diaper changes, and feedings are not unpleasant chores for babies. Your baby will want to be invited to participate in an activity as much as he can.
6. Let your baby choose.
Over time you’ll observe that your baby will be more interested in the things he chooses than the things you choose for him. Therefore, allowing your baby to choose what he can do in his play environment instead of directing him to your choice of activity will better engage his focus, interest, and heightened concentration.
Most of the memories during infancy are short-term memories. Hence a child can recall a memory or remember things from three years onwards. It takes time for a baby’s brain to form a long-term memory structure. As a parent, your role is crucial in your child’s memory development. You can thus enhance his memory development through various memory-boosting games and exercises like the ones given above.
In case of any questions or clarifications regarding your baby’s nutrition or development, do get in touch with your paediatrician.