When do babies develop imagination?

They are a tough nut to crack, they're 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 their head, and that’s true even just of basic things like whether they are too hot or too cold, or what they want for dinner. So what chance do you have of figuring out when they have started using their 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 they move from just observing the world around them, into imagining ways to expand what’s in front of them.

Baby’s first way of exercising their imagination is through imitation, often by using the same objects, or toy versions of the same objects, that they see you using. This type of imitation generally starts around 8 to 12 months. However, Baby starts directly imitating even sooner – they have the ability to mimic the faces you make at them from their first few days of life.

In Baby’s first days, weeks, and months of life before their imagination takes hold, they are taking in information every moment to help build their understanding of the world. It’s around that understanding that their imagination is growing.

Baby will probably start imitating you and the other adults in their life as they get 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, they might start to connect their toy car with the way you get to the grocery store. And by the time they are around 2, or a little older, they could be playing more story-based imaginative games.

Baby is developing their imagination with every day they spend exploring the world around them. If you want to help their imagination grow, you can read books to them so that they are 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.

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