Can you think back to your earliest memory? Chances are it may date back to when you were 3 or even 8 years old. Understanding your baby’s memory, however, is a different story. It develops in stages and, even though it began to develop the moment your little one was born, it works more for recognition and familiarity, giving him a sense of comfort when he experiences something he recognizes.
More specifically, during your baby’s first 2 months, he will be able to recognize familiar faces and voices, especially those he sees every day. In fact, newborns can recognize their mothers’ voice at birth and will also recognize her smell after one week! This kind of recognition is the first indication of memory. There are lots of things you can do to help your baby strengthen his memory and attention skills. Here are some tips and suggestions you can try at home:

  1. Consistency & Routines

This tip is particularly helpful if your baby is 0-3 months old. You can help your little one’s memory development by keeping his surroundings consistent and creating routines. For example, make his playtime predictable by keeping his toys in the same room and playing with them at the same time every day.

  1. New Skills & Time

With your 0-3 month old, you can try to introduce new skills during playtime, focusing on each one during a whole week. That is, just spend a little part of playtime each day with that new skill. For example, teach your baby how to play with a new toy and then introduce that object for about 5 minutes at a time over several days. Trying this new skill over different periods of time, rather than in one long session, will help your baby remember the skill longer.

  1. Say Your Baby’s Name & Talk Often

When your baby reaches 4 months, he will recognize the sound of his name and pay attention when he is called. Even though your baby won’t talk yet, respond to his babbling and cooing. He will remember this “serve and return” pattern later when he has conversations. When talking to your baby, remember to say his name often too, so that he remembers it belongs to him! This also goes for your name as well –call yourself “Mommy/Daddy” so that he creates the connection.

You should also take advantage of bed time stories. When you are reading to your baby, make sure to point to the pictures and say out loud the actions the characters are performing (“dancing”, “climbing”), or even the colors of their outfits. Invite your baby to gesture as well, it will be of great help for his language development!

  1. The Element of Surprise

If you add an unexpected element of novelty to his daily experience the information becomes more memorable. Use the technique of surprise every now and then to light up your child’s brain pathways –which are more open to processing information and remembering it. When a baby’s expectation of an object’s behavior are challenged, researchers discovered that they learned best! Curiosity drew babies to test, explore, and, consequently, figure out what was going on to better understand the situation.

  1. Reinforce Repetition

Although we just talked about the importance of being creative and trying out new things with your baby, it is also important to repeat certain activities in order to enhance existing neural connections. Deeper memories and strong neural connections are created when babies are exposed to repetition. Balance novelty and reinforcement for a perfect combination!

  1. Naps

We know that babies devote most of their time to sleeping. However, it remained unclear whether a baby’s daytime nap, right after learning something new, helped him remember –until now. Researchers found that only the babies who’d taken naps (at least 30 min) after learning, actually remembered what they’d learned, especially after 24 hours. So you might want to keep that in mind when setting your baby’s nap-time schedule!