From the moment your baby is born, her memory is working hard. Find out how her ability to recall develops.

Your baby begins to develop her memory skills from the minute she’s born. Newborns can recognise their mother’s voice from birth and mummy’s smell by the first week. By the time they are 3 months old, babies have the ability to recall pictures and toys that were shown to them as far back as six days ago.

Junior’s memory skills would have also sharpened by the time she celebrates her first birthday. She will be able to retain long-lasting conscious memories of special events and days. Honing your sweetie’s memory can help boost her development greatly, not to mention her motor and cognitive skills. While memory skills do develop naturally, there are things you can do help move things along. Here are some tried-and-tested tips.

0 to 6 months

  • Even before your baby is born, she is “recording” her experiences. If she was played a particular tune during your pregnancy, she may well remember the song after birth.
  • The second she comes into the world, your newborn’s tiny memory “muscles” are hard at work. She relies on what is known as “procedural memory” to carry out actions such as sucking, swallowing, making sounds and rolling over.
  • By 6 weeks, she’ll start to develop another aspect of her memory that lets her recognise mummy and daddy are her parents, and not strangers. She’ll also start to remember that your breast or the milk bottle is the solution to her hunger pangs, and the sound of water splashing could mean it’s bath time.
  • Simple games like peek-a-boo help junior enhance her memory as she’ll follow how the game works and try to join in. Similarly, when bubba bats the toy attached to her bouncy seat day after day, she’ll recall this movement and use it when she plays.

6 to 12 months

  • Once your baby starts babbling at around 6 months, join in by smiling and making eye contact. Repeat the sounds he makes and give him a chance to respond. This allows him to hear, remember and repeat sounds, which form the building blocks of speech.
  • Your peewee is more likely to remember something if it’s accompanied by a positive emotion. So, use a happy voice and facial expressions when you tell him about that bird on the grass or recite the ABCs to him.
  • By now, he’s likely to remember more specific information, such as where his toys are kept. So, don’t be surprised to find him pulling himself up to reach for a particular book on the shelf.
  • As your munchkin learns to recall the people he knows, he’ll probably begin to get a bit wary of people he doesn’t know. This is because stranger anxiety usually sets in at about 8 months.

What do nursery-rhyme games, action songs and routine have to do with bubba’s memory skills? Read on!

12 to 18 months

  • Your tot will be able to remember things that interest, frighten or excite him by now. While bringing him for a jab used to be a breeze, you may find him howling with horror now when the lady with the white coat appears.
  • Your little one thrives on a reliable routine as these help boost his memory. He’ll learn that a warm bath, a bottle of milk and a story set the stage for him to hit the sack.
  • A good way to boost his memory is to play the nursery-rhyme game. Leave the ends of certain lines hanging and he’ll fill the blanks with “goos” and “gahs”, even before he starts to talk.
  • Sing action songs such as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to him and you’ll notice he’ll soon be doing the corresponding motions even before you get to the next phase.

18+ months

  • As your mini-me becomes more independent, she’s more likely to remember how to go about a task when she is allowed to figure out how to do it herself. After she’s done with breakfast, for instance, encourage her to put her plate in the sink.
  • When she demands that you read her the same bedtime story for the sixth time that night, she’s using repetition to help her learn. Who knows, she might soon recite the same book to you, verbatim!
  • Most of us can’t remember things that happened to us before we turned 2, thanks to what experts call “infantile amnesia”. This is because we store and access our memories through language.
  • However, while junior might eventually not be able to recall the moments when you lavished hugs and kisses on her, their effects will last a lifetime, helping her to develop into a confident, secure adult.

Photos: iStock

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