He is a tough nut to crack, he’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 his head, and that’s true even just of basic things like whether he is too hot or too cold, or what he wants for dinner. So what chance do you have of figuring out when he has started using his 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 he moves from just observing the world around him, into imagining ways to expand what’s in front of him.
Baby’s first way of exercising his imagination is through imitation, often by using the same objects, or toy versions of the same objects, that he sees you using. This type of imitation generally starts around 8 to 12 months. However, Baby starts directly imitating even sooner – he has the ability to mimic the faces you make at him from his first few days of life.
In Baby’s first days, weeks, and months of life before his imagination takes hold, he is taking in information every moment to help build his understanding of the world. It’s around that understanding that his imagination is growing.
Baby will probably start imitating you and the other adults in his life as he 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, he might start to connect his toy car with the way you get to the grocery store. And by the time he is around 2, or a little older, he could be playing more story-based imaginative games.
Baby is developing his imagination with every day he spends exploring the world around him. If you want to help his imagination grow, you can read books to him so that he 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.