Object permanence is a significant cognitive milestones achieved by your baby. Simply put, it’s the understanding that things exist even if they can’t see them. In the first few months of life, a baby can only conceive of objects right in front of them. Once they don’t see the person or object they cease to exist for them. Between 5 to 8 months of age, the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, touched, smelled or sensed in any way, begins to form.
Does your baby begin to cry when you leave a room or take away a favourite toy – that’s object permanence setting in. It is also why babies of this age start to exhibit stranger anxiety and separation anxiety.
Object permanence helps your baby to understand the world around them; they also learn to expect what may happen next. This lays the foundation for sequential thinking.
Further, the development of object permanence helps your baby reach even more milestones, including –
Games and activities to enhance understanding
As a parent and caregiver, playing with your baby is a great way to help develop their understanding of this concept and add new layers to it.
Here I am
Babies recognize faces before objects; hence the best way to start is by hiding you face under a blanket and then pulling the blanket away. Later leave the room, leaving your baby with a caretaker and return in a while. It is a great way of teaching your baby that even when they cannot see you, you are there. Remember, object permanence is not just about visual perception. You can even call out your baby from the other room to let them know that you are there, even if you are not visible
Peek a boo
Peek-a-boo is an all time favourite for babies as they delight in discovering hidden objects. At first hide an object under a see- through cloth. Only once they learn to “discover” the object transition to opaque hiding places/covers.
With older children, transition from peek a boo to hide and seek, with them “hiding” and you “finding/seeking”.
Object permanence boxes
Early montessori education lays great emphasis on object permanence and has toys specifically dedicated to the concept. The boxes go from a simple ball drop box to the more complex, drop and fetch boxes.
You can replicate the same concept at home by making DIY boxes using old shoe boxes and cartons.
Play with Purpose !!