What is object permanence and why is it important for your baby?
Object permanence is an important developmental milestone that your baby will go through and is just one of many development stages a baby will experience. Object permanence is the ability for a child to understand that things still exist even if they cannot see or hear them.
When an object, such as a favourite toy, is hidden from sight when playing with a young baby, they may get upset or seem confused and this is because they are too young at this stage to understand that the toy continues to exist even if it cannot be seen.
Between 2-3 months your baby will begin to recognise familiar faces and objects, and this will be the time that they may get upset and cry when their favourite toy is hidden out of sight or when mum or dad leaves the room (even for a quick toilet break). Separation anxiety is also a perfectly normal part of development that all babies will experience, but as they grasp the idea of object permanence this will also then help with separation anxiety in the long run.
Research suggests that a baby may begin to understand the concept of object permanence between 4 and 7 months old and will fully understand the concept by around 2 years of age. Once your baby begins to understand object permanence, then they will start to look for the hidden toy or hidden object, they may even try to get it back, attempt to follow you into another room or protest loudly to you as they know it still exists!
Here are a few simple activities and toys to support object permanence:
TAF TOYS NORTH POLE BALL DROP STACK TOY
The Taf Toys North Pole Ball Drop Stack toy is the perfect toy for encouraging your baby to understand object permanence. As your baby drops the ball through the cubes, they will begin to realise that it does not completely disappear but just drops out at the bottom. A fab toy for also supporting other areas of early development.
Babies love to play peekaboo for a reason - playing simple games like peekaboo is not only fun for your baby (and even toddlers), but it can also help develop your baby’s understanding of object permanence as well as supporting a wide range of developmental milestones. You can simply use your hands, a baby muslin, or even a hand puppet toy to play peekaboo style games… either way your little one is going to laugh with delight and eventually join playing.
Here are a few other ways that peekaboo will help your child developmentally:
- Supports cognitive development
- Encourages language and speech development
- Supports motor skill development
- Encourages social and emotional development
HIDE AND SEEK
A bit like peekaboo – your baby and your toddler will really enjoy hide and seek type games. Whether you hide a favourite toy under a cushion, or whether you hide behind a curtain, hide, and seek type games will help your baby get used to the idea that even though you might disappear behind that curtain – that you will soon reappear again.
Start off simple and make sure your baby can see where you hide their toy or that they can see you step behind the curtain… Eventually as your child gets bigger the game will become more progressive ending up with you searching around the house for your child who loves playing hide and seek!
CREATE YOUR OWN OBJECT PERMANACE BOX
Creating your own object permanence box is really simple! All you need is an empty cardboard box and a few balls.
Just cut a hole big enough on top of the box for your baby to drop a ball into it, you will also need another hole at the side where your baby can get the ball back out. It really is that simple and can be enjoyed by a baby either from the tummy time position, seated with support or who can confidently sit and support themselves.
Doing some of the above games and activities you will be able to figure out by how your baby reacts as to whether they are at the stage where they understand object permanence.
Thinking of having a go at your own object permanance box? Then why not join our friendly Facebook group and share your activity with our community.
*It is important to remember that all babies are unique and learn and develop in their own time. If at any point you are concerned about your child’s development, then please speak to your Health Visitor or Doctor.