Object Permanence in Babies – What it is and How You Can Help

5 min read

Written by Aparna Hari

Aparna Hari

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.

Object Permanence in Babies

Looking at their baby’s growth and development is a big milestone for the parents. It is a delight for the parents to see the baby become happy, identify faces, smile, look for things of interest to them etc. Early childhood development also indicates that the baby can achieve milestones. It is the time when language, physical, socioeconomic growth and cognitive skills develop. The development is so fast that the time passes instantly. Object permanence is one of the concepts that a baby understands as they grow. So what exactly is object permanence in babies?

In the initial months, hiding behind something, covering oneself with any blanket or toy create a sense of surprise among babies and becomes a source of amazement. As they grow, babies understand that things and people continue to exist even the little one is not able to see of hear them. This understanding is known as the concept of object permanence in babies. Once babies understand this concept, they may not find hidden objects appearing back a source of fun anymore.

In This Article

What is Object Permanence?

The ability of the baby in understanding that an object or a person exists even when one cannot see, hear or feel them is known as Object permanence. This skill is not in infants that makes them sad when they are unable to find the missing object or person. This skill lies in knowing that the person or the object continues to be there even when no one can hear it with ears, feel by touch or see with eyes.

Try to hide the baby’s toy in the initial years and the baby starts becoming perplexed as the skill is still not developed in them. Even though the object or the person is not actually missing, the child looks startled and starts rolling their eyes, gets upset or sad when the object and the person are still present. This is what is Piaget’s theory.

When Does Object Permanence in Babies Happen?

mom and baby playing hide and seek

The skill of object permanence is seen in a 8 month old baby. This skill development happens in the initial 2 years of the baby, a time when the child will not be sad. On the contrary, they smile and find the hidden person or the object.

At What Age is Object Permanence in Babies Complete?

When the baby is 10 months old, he has a proper understanding of this skill. For example. When we hide a toy or any other object under a blanket, the child is aware of the location and does not find the game interesting enough as he can reveal the hidden person or the object.

[Read : Bonding With Your Baby – Why is it Important?]

Tips to Help Your Baby Learn the Concept of Object Permanence

Tips to Help Object Permanence

It is ideal to try experimenting with different things for the baby to develop the skill of object permanence. Keep trying out different things which not only develop the skill but also create a strong bond between you and your little one.

1. Play Hiding Games

Playing games like peek-a-boo or hide and seek can make them understand that the people are going away but not missing. They cannot see them, but they are still present.

2. Role Swapping

This activity helps them in understanding or encouraging object performance. Try to switch roles and let them become you. Give them a few objects and do not expect perfection. Let them do little household chores. This even enhances the creativity of the child.

3. Hide Objects in a Simple Manner

Hide a few toys of the baby under a towel or a blanket, hidden under a vessel or a cup and let the child look for them. It is important to make the baby attentive to the object so that the focus is on looking for the missing object.

4. Use Toys and Books

With the help of pop-up books or audio-visual aids, the skill of object permanence can be developed. These toys help in encouraging the baby to enhance their problem-solving skills and use their logic as well. This activity is a good relief for restlessness, stress, muscle tension etc. Pop-up books are a great way for increasing interaction, thereby improving their imagination, reading ability, and vocabulary.

In brief, object permanence is the ability when a baby can make a memory or visualize in the brain and understand the world around them and the way it functions.

[Read : 8 Ways Toys Can Help Your Baby Learn]

Games You Can Consider

peek a boo

There are several games that help in the development of the skill of object permanence in the baby. These can enhance the memory and observation power of the baby in the initial years. Some of them are

1. Hide and Find

  • Try to hide in front of the baby with layers of cloth, curtains, towels etc. Now cheer the baby till they remove everything and can see you or the object that is hidden in between the layers.
  • In case the baby is old enough, take a few of their toys and hide them within the room and then let them find the toys.
  • Hide behind something and call the baby so that they crawl and look for you.
  • The baby loves the voice of the parents, so it is good to keep talking to them while you play with them. This even cheers them up when they can reveal the hidden person.

2. Peek-a-Boo

  • This is one of the classic games popular amongst all babies, even though the pattern can be different as well.
  • Try and hide the head of the baby with a soft cloth or towel, and then say peek-a-boo.
  • Let the child remove it in their own time.
  • Now try to cover the baby’s head and yours to see if it can find you after removing the soft cloth.
  • Let the toys of the baby pop up from different places making the game an interesting one.
  • Try to set a pattern so that the baby can start predicting where the toy can be at.
  • Cheer the baby for interacting as it helps in enhancing their skills.

Object permanence in babies is a skill that naturally develops as the baby grows. While the initial disappearance or absence of objects or humans can cause a sharp reaction in the form of amusement, sadness, or anger, babies slowly grow to understand that the objects or people stay despite the babies not being able to see, hear or feel them. With a few activities and encouragement from parents, babies can develop this skill faster, leading to their quicker growth and development.


1. What Do You Mean by Emotional Permanence in Babies?

It is a skill where the baby realizes that emotions are there even though it cannot witness them. This is similar to object permanence.

2. What is the Reason For All Babies to Like and Love Peek-a-Boo?

Peek-a-boo helps the baby interact in a happy manner and see them smiling. A great way to hide and come back again and again making it a fun filled game for the baby.

3. Is the Development of Object Permanence a Quick One?

Earlier the babies used to only acquire this skill at 8 months but now the babies start understanding it when they are 4 months or more.

Read Also: Separation Anxiety

Aparna Hari,MBA in Marketing,P.G. Diploma in Human Resource Management from IGNOU Bachelor of Sciences (Home Science) from Nagarjuna University

Her experience in impactful writing combined with her background in Home Sciences makes Aparna the perfect candidate for content writing in the pregnancy and parenting niche.Read more.

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