Babies learn through imitation; it gives them the opportunity to practice and master new skills. They observe others doing things and then copy their actions in an attempt to do them themselves. For example, it’s how your baby knows, without you having to give him specific instructions, how to hold a toy phone up to his ear! He has learned from watching you talk on the phone!
Imitation can also be considered as a basis for the development of empathy, or having the ability to experience what someone else is feeling. In fact, an infant’s ability to imitate simple actions, like sticking out his tongue, originates from the same part of the brain that allows us to develop empathy. Recent studies have found that imitation is not only one behavioral skill, but it’s more like different ways of combining and using diverse types of knowledge, developing across the first 2 years of life (Jones, 2007). Continue reading