She is a tough nut to crack, she’s not giving anything away, and you know your line of questioning is going nowhere, but the stakes have never been higher – yes, it’s just another day of trying to communicate with your infant child. Especially when Baby was younger, but even now, it can be hard to know what’s going on in her head, and that’s true even just of basic things like whether she is too hot or too cold, or what she wants for dinner. So what chance do you have of figuring out when she has started using her imagination?
Imaginative play is generally agreed to be an important part of Baby’s emotional and intellectual development. But when Baby is very young, it can be hard to tell when she moves from just observing the world around her, into imagining ways to expand what’s in front of her.
Baby’s first way of exercising her imagination is through imitation, often by using the same objects, or toy versions of the same objects, that she sees you using. This type of imitation generally starts around 8 to 12 months. However, Baby starts directly imitating even sooner – she has the ability to mimic the faces you make at her from her first few days of life.
In Baby’s first days, weeks, and months of life before her imagination takes hold, she is taking in information every moment to help build her understanding of the world. It’s around that understanding that her imagination is growing.
Baby will probably start imitating you and the other adults in her life as she gets closer to a year old, and from there, will start to play more in ways that use objects as symbols representing other things. For example, she might start to connect her toy car with the way you get to the grocery store. And by the time she is around 2, or a little older, she could be playing more story-based imaginative games.
Baby is developing her imagination with every day she spends exploring the world around her. If you want to help her imagination grow, you can read books to her so that she is exposed to new images, words, and ideas. The most important factor in developing imagination is time though, so don’t forget to leave plenty of space for free play.