Your baby will start recording things in her mind from birth but will not be aware of what is really happening. During the third trimester of your pregnancy your baby will have begun to recognize your voice and at four days old she will be able to distinguish between your face and a stranger’s. It is at this time she will also recognize Dad if he has been present throughout the pregnancy. She will certainly recognize your smell and be comforted by it from birth.
A researcher recently carried out the following experiment. He looked at babies aged two months whilst they were in their cots and awake. He repetitively poked his tongue out at the babies who watched with fascination. Twenty-four hours later he returned to the same babies in their cots and looked at them but this time he did not stick out his tongue. The babies amazingly started to stick their tongues out at him as if to say ‘I remember you! This is what you did!’ This ability in identifying people and things is known as recognition memory and it gets stronger and better as your baby gets older. A newborn baby will recognize her mother’s voice from birth because she will already be familiar with her voice from her time in the womb. A week after birth a breastfed baby will recognize her mother’s smell. A few months after birth your baby will begin to recognize faces that she often sees and may develop a preference for some, usually her mother and father’s as she spends the most time with them.
Between six months and a year, your infant will develop and enhance her recall memory. This is her ability to recollect a specific experience and some of its details for a short time. Once this type of memory begins to develop in your baby she will begin to become more emphatic about what she wants. The things that she will remember first are those which are repeated often and those which hold more importance to her, for example; meal times, play times, bath time and also specific toys that she has become attached to. You will notice that she might start to make actions she has associated with certain toys and she will learn what activity comes after the other because of repetition of the event. When you notice that your baby knows what is coming next it is showing you she remembers what happened last time.
Once your baby is one to two years old she will have begun to remember some words. She will recognize familiar faces like other family members and you will see this in her excitement in seeing them. It is a joy to watch and be surprised by how much she can remember as she grows older.
Conscious, long lasting memory develops when your little one is fourteen to eighteen months old. This is when she starts to remember specific events. At two years of age your child will have the ability to remember facts and events for example, going to the circus or the park with her grandmother. Observing your child grow and develop her memory you will notice how she will begin to link experiences in her past to her current experiences. By recollecting her experiences she will start to have expectations of what will happen in the future.