Importance of a 1-3 Year Child Recognizing Objects

a baby waving hi to themselves in a mirror

There are many major developmental milestones that are a part of toddler’s life. Most people think of first words and steps, but there are several more. For instance, when a child learns to recognize objects, like a stuffed toy or a favorite bottle. It may seem kind of silly, but this is a big move in terms of growing up. Is your little one developmentally on track for his or her age? Read on.

Moving from stage to stage

Children two years old and under learn with their senses. They are constantly touching and mouthing things. When they turn three, kids begin to learn concepts. While they’re not about to recite the Pythagorean Theorem, your three-year-old should understand ideas like what happens when water in the sink goes down the drain, how trees grow and their neighborhood. In order to make this huge step in cognitive thinking, kiddos have to be able to identify objects, people and themselves. This shift typically takes place right around month two to three.

According to What to Expect, little ones may know objects by around month three. This is likely when parents realize a certain stuffed animal or blanket can cheer up their new baby. The child only knows the object when it is in plain sight. This changes by month five when the baby can see the blanket peeking out from the car seat and will immediately know that’s his or her favorite. This is also the time when the child realizes object permanence – just because he or she can’t see the teddy bear doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It’s common for separation anxiety to lessen at this time as seeing someone leave the room no longer means he or she won’t come back.

“Selfies may speed up self recognition in babies.”

Recognizing self

With today’s technology, many toddlers progress through this step quicker than in the past when mirrors were they only way to see themselves. This is because of the cellphone, tablets and computers. Many parents take selfies with their kiddos to send to grandma or post on social media, saying things like, “It’s you!” while they point out the reflected image of their child. Video chatting also offers another medium where toddlers see themselves and whomever they are talking to.

Babies as young as several months may enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror or on the screen, but they don’t yet know they’re seeing themselves. Instead, they think they’re visiting with another baby. What to Expect mentions children often develop self-recognition around age 15-months. This takes more complex thinking than simply recognizing objects, so it can require a little more time.

toddler, baby, object recognitionTouch is a crucial part of object recognition.

Helping your little one progress

How can you assist your toddler in making these important leaps from recognition to understanding? There are a few options. One key is to use your words to talk about objects. Name the toy bear your child loves and talk about it in terms of ownership, like saying, “Here’s Sarah’s bear!” Playing peekaboo is also a good idea for children learning to identify objects and object permanence. Hide items under a blanket and then pull the blanket out of the way so the tot can see the items haven’t moved.

Looking through photographs is a great way to help your child recognize faces. Babies learn the faces of their mom and dad within a month or two from birth because they are constantly near. Other family members or friends who visit less frequently may require a little work to instill memory. Point out who people are in the photos and say their names or relations, like “cousin” or “grandpa.” While the child can’t form words vocally, he or she is gaining an understanding of who these individuals are.

About Gina Russell

Gina Russell is a lover of Thai food, feminist prose, and music of the indie rock persuasion. When she’s not writing or reading up on health and education, she’s drinking coffee or binge watching “The Office."
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