According to Jean Piaget, a child goes through four main stages of development before hitting adulthood. Each stage must be experienced and mastered before moving to the next one. The sensorimotor stage occurs from birth to roughly 2 years of age. During this time, the baby will experiment and learn mainly from movement and all of her senses. As a parent, you can aid your child’s development by providing various activities and experiences.
Offering your young child various materials to touch helps develop her ability to discriminate between the different objects. Let your baby run her hand along wool and then silk. Encourage her to pat the outside of a refrigerated apple, followed by a room temperature orange. Give her a dry sponge and then a damp one. Even letting her fingers explore the rough skin of a pineapple and then the green top shows her there is a difference between the two.
You can create a visual activity for this stage by providing two similar, yet different, objects for your child to look at, compare and differentiate. Position two distinctly colored objects next to each other and tell your baby what the difference is between the two. Grab a couple of similar looking toys that are different sizes, such as balls, and hold them up. Explain why they are not the same. Even if she doesn’t quite understand the words and labels you use yet, talking to your child is beneficial at this age.
Cause and Effect
Learning cause and effect is also a vital part of your baby’s development. Those toys that require a child to push a button to elicit noise or flashing lights work on these skills. She will learn that slapping a hand into water causes a splash or banging a wooden spoon on a metal mixing bowl results in a fun clank.
You should have a supply of various toys for your child to experiment with and learn from. She will implement trial and error as she explores. She will shake items, taste them, smack them with her palm and tap them on other objects nearby. Always have at least a few different toys handy at all times for her to tinker with.
Around 7 to 9 months, she will start to develop her memory skills and will remember that objects are still there even though she doesn’t see them. To help her develop this ability, show her an object, such as a stuffed bear, and then cover it with a small blanket. Ask her, “Where did Teddy go?” Wait a moment and then lift the towel to show her it is still there. This object permanence idea is why peek-a-boo is not only an entertaining activity, it also shows her that you haven’t disappeared when you cover your face.