Your Brilliant Baby in Week 42: Pairing Objects with Actions


Right now, your baby is beginning to make all sorts of associations about the items in her world and the actions associated with them. Learn more about these generalizations in week 42.

Baby’s Brain in Week 42

Between nine and 11 months, your baby most likely pairs the watering can you use inside your home with your household plants, and the hose you use outdoors with your garden flowers. If you brought the hose in the house to water your indoor plants, your baby would be perplexed, wondering, “What in the world is Mommy doing?”

Likewise, right now your baby probably couples coffee cups with people and your keys with the family car. It’s these pairings that are helping her make even greater sense of her increasingly fascinating world.

What the Research Shows

In an experiment, nine- and 11-month-old subjects were tested on four properties: two appropriate to animals and two appropriate to vehicles. The researchers demonstrated for the babies that animals drink and sleep, and vehicles give rides and use keys. Then the babies were given the opportunity to use the toys themselves. The question was: Would they pair the correct activity with the correct object? Most of the babies made the accurate pairing—and the babies closer to their eleventh month were even more accurate that those in their ninth.

To further explore babies’ skills, researchers then offered them unfamiliar animal toys (an ox and anteater) and unfamiliar vehicle toys (a forklift and front loader). They wanted to see if the children would generalize the attributes of the familiar toys to the unfamiliar ones. Indeed, the babies used a key on the front loader and the forklift and gave dolls rides on them. They fed the anteater and the ox, and put them to bed.

Week 42 Brain Booster

Because your baby is busy all on her own determining what actions go with which objects around her, do nothing more than honor and support your baby’s interest in such pairings. Do so by watching your child as she plays and putting language to it, “You’re feeding your doggie, now he’s going to take a nap. All living creatures eat and sleep. Cars don’t. They need keys, gasoline, and engines to move around.”

On a day when you’re feeling playful, pretend to feed ice cream to your car. You’ll likely see surprise written all over your baby’s face.


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