Memory isn’t simply a passive development. Your baby is actively capturing information soon after birth, and working to process, understand, and store that information. By the time you meet your newborn, his brain is already hard at work—and his ability to learn and remember continues to grow just as he does. Find out more about your child’s memory, and how you can help support his thought retention.

Short-Term Memory Development

In your baby’s first months, he is working hard to figure out the world around him, all while absorbing language and reaching developmental milestones. Memory helps attract him to new things and sustain his attention throughout his first year of life.

Then, at 8 to 12 months, your baby’s ability to remember people and places seems to take a giant leap forward. This is known as short-term memory. It helps explain why separation anxiety takes hold—your baby remembers you and other familiar things even when you’re not there, and he becomes upset by your absence.

Long-Term Memory Development

Most children and adults have trouble remembering single events from babyhood. Studies performed at both Harvard and Cornell universities explore memory development before and after your child’s first year. The research has found that long-term memories begin to solidify after your child’s first birthday, when routines are more established and your child is showing signs of separation anxiety (proof she remembers you, and misses you when you’re away).

Building Your Baby’s Memory

You don’t need to do anything special to encourage your baby’s memory development—no flash cards or brain games are necessary! In addition to providing lots of love, attention, stimulation, and good nutrition, try the following:

  • Talk to your baby. Wide exposure to language stimulates later cognitive ability, including memory.
  • Play with your baby. It’s a good idea to provide a variety of different playthings, so he doesn’t grow bored with the same ones.
  • Provide brain-nourishing nutrition. Providing nutrients like the omega-3 fatty acid DHA from breast milk, or formula that has it, during infancy has been shown to support cognitive skills into the preschool years.
  • Learn more about MFGM.