At 10 months old, babies are getting more used to the idea that if people or objects disappear from view, they haven’t stopping existing. They’re either hiding and they can be found or, in the case of people, they will reappear soon. Psychologists call this ‘object permanence’, which is just a grand way of saying that things continue to exist even when we can’t see them.
Learning how the world works
Between the ages of eight and 10 months babies gradually learn that this is how the world works. They start to realise that when mum or dad leaves them, they will come back. So by 10 months, peekaboo becomes a great game. Many mums and dads instinctively play the game, putting their hands over their faces and suddenly taking them away. ‘Peekaboo. I can see you!’ says mum or dad. The look of joy on your baby’s face is wonderful!
For a baby of 10 months, peekaboo has endlessly fascinating variations. Dads, grandparents and older brothers and sisters love to play it. They hide behind the sofa and pop up or they make a favourite toy disappear and reappear, and it makes baby squeal with laughter every time.
Hiding and finding
Hiding toys and helping your little one look for them and find them reinforces the message that things continue to exist, even when they can’t be seen. It’s just another kind of peekaboo! That’s why putting things under a cushion or behind a chair and encouraging your baby to look for them is a good way to show them that they don’t have to get upset when something disappears from view. All is not lost, they just have to look for it and they will find it.
As they get used to this idea, babies of 10 months are able to tolerate longer periods of time without mum or dad. They’re likely to enjoy time at nursery or with other carers more readily because they know that mum and dad will return soon. This is all part of their development as separate little people, leading to greater independence. Of course, some babies are naturally more clingy and still inclined to get upset when mum leaves them. But by 10 months, they are able to take it more in their stride. They enjoy playing alone for a while, especially if they are finding new objects during play and rediscovering toys that were out of sight.
Make the most of peekaboo
The time for peekaboo games does not last long. In a couple of months, your baby will have tired of it because they’ll have learnt the lesson of ‘object permanence’. Around 10 months is the peak time for peekaboo, so make the most of it while you can.