What stage is exhibiting in playing peek-a-boo?

Answered by Frank Schwing

When playing peek-a-boo, infants are exhibiting the stage of development known as object permanence. Object permanence is the understanding that objects and events continue to exist, even when they cannot be directly seen, heard, or touched. This concept is a crucial milestone in early learning and cognitive development.

During the first few months of life, infants do not have a full grasp of object permanence. They believe that when an object is out of sight, it no longer exists. This is why you may see young babies get surprised or startled when you hide your face or a toy during a game of peek-a-boo. They genuinely believe that you have disappeared!

However, as infants grow and develop, they start to grasp the concept of object permanence. Around 6 to 9 months of age, they begin to understand that objects and people continue to exist even when they are temporarily out of sight. This is when games like peek-a-boo become particularly enjoyable for them.

As a parent or caregiver, you can observe this stage in action when playing peek-a-boo with an infant. At first, they may seem confused or surprised when you hide your face behind your hands or a blanket. But as they develop their understanding of object permanence, you will notice a change in their reactions.

Infants who have reached this stage will actively participate in the game. They may start to anticipate your reappearance and show excitement or joy when you reveal yourself. They understand that you haven’t vanished but have simply hidden for a moment. This demonstrates their growing awareness of object permanence and their ability to mentally represent and remember objects or people even when they are not visible.

It’s important to note that the age at which infants develop object permanence can vary. While most babies begin to grasp this concept between 6 and 9 months, some may take longer, while others may develop it earlier. Every child is unique and may progress at their own pace.

Experiencing object permanence is not limited to playing peek-a-boo. It is a fundamental cognitive skill that influences various aspects of an infant’s daily life. It helps them understand that their caregivers are still present even when they are not in direct view. This understanding forms the basis for building secure attachments and trust in their relationships.

Playing peek-a-boo is an engaging way to support and observe the development of object permanence in infants. It is during this stage that they begin to understand that objects and people continue to exist even when they are temporarily hidden from sight. By actively participating in games like peek-a-boo, infants strengthen their cognitive abilities and build the foundation for further learning and exploration.