As she approaches her first birthday, your child is inquisitive and increasingly vocal. Learn why pointing is so crucial (and cute!) right now to her overall development into a brilliant toddler.
Baby’s Brain in Week 52
Right around now, your child is becoming quite a pointer. Few items seen during your daily routines escape his little thrusted finger, and as your baby points, he likely says, “What’sat?” Now you might think doing this is just his way of learning the names of various things: clock, car, sock, plate, pencil, vase, pillow, and so many, many more.
This pointing skill, however, is about far more than just learning words. It involves bringing you into your child’s realm of learning. If you watch younger babies closely, they are either solely engaged with you or with objects. They’ll bat at an object overhead and then later coo back and forth with you. But now as he turns one-year old, your child can point at an object and interact with his Most Important Person—you!—by asking, “What’sat?”
What the Research Shows
Brain scientists call this phenomenon the cognitive triangle; the points of the triangle include you, your baby, and an object. Researchers discovered this pointing ability by doing nothing more than observing and videotaping children at about 12-months old.
For example, a child sees a fly on the window: She folds her thumb around her pinky, ring, and middle fingers while extending her index finger toward the fly, and then looks at her parent. Even when the child does not explicitly ask for information, you can see the question written all over her face. The parent just knows to say, “That’s a fly.”
(Interestingly, researchers have noted that because children with autism lack social ability, they don’t point at objects and ask, “What’s that?” Read more about autism spectrum disorders, here.)
Week 52 Brain Booster
Learning is more efficient now that your child’s brain allows her to process information she receives from her surroundings and from you, simultaneously. She doesn’t have to learn all about dogs and clocks and tractors on her own: She now relies on your input to help her figure out her world.
Sure, you may want to roll your eyes as the pointing games begin yet again, but remember, your child can read your body language. It’s your job right now to tirelessly and enthusiastically label your little one’s world.
Later she’ll acquire more skills to further pull you into this learning picture. She’ll want you to demonstrate or explain how things work, and around age two and a half, the “why” questions begin. Can you even imagine how brilliant your “baby” will be by then?