What Do Babies Think?

how babies think

Babies may enter the world with brains that appear unsophisticated, but they absorb and understand more than we realize. Babies notice, process, and file everything adults and children around them say and do. Most of their learning occurs through their senses.

Here are some facts about how babies think and what you can do at home to encourage your baby’s brain development.

How Babies Grow and Develop

Become inspired by Bright Horizons educators with activities from World at Home, including these that will create connection and help your baby build new skills.

Language Sense: Babies as young as 8-months-old can distinguish patterns in their own language from background sounds. Get out a Discovery Basket and clearly name and label each object as you and your baby explore language together.

Number Sense: Babies six months or younger notice the difference between a large group of objects or pictures and a smaller group (for example, the difference between five dots and 13 dots). Try the Ribbon Pull activity at home and watch your infant practice building focus and concentration skills.

People Sense: Infant brains thrive from secure emotional attachments to caregivers, leading to the development of more advanced social-emotional skills through infancy and toddlerhood. Babies can practice identifying emotions from facial expressions with this Feelings Game.

What Babies Need from Adults

Watch and “tune in” to what babies are telling us. Our full human presence — paying attention to babies and talking about their interests — is critical. We need to slow down enough to observe babies, understand their interests, and note what they communicate.

Provide interesting materials for babies to explore. An experience is even better when it is shared with another person. In other words, interesting materials alone are not enough—actively engage with your baby during these experiences.  

Webinar: Inside the Minds of Babies and Toddlers

On this webinar, our early educator experts explore how babies and toddlers communicate. Visit World at Home for the complete archive of our parent education webinar series.


Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
how babies think