It is a question every mom asks as she stares into her baby's big eyes: What the heck is he thinking about? Milk? Ducklings? Nothing? Turns out, your baby's brain is working harder than we ever imagined, says Alison Gopnik, Ph.D., author of The Philosophical Baby. "Until about 20 years ago, scientists thought babies were egocentric and illogical," Gopnik says, "but we are discovering that, in many respects, babies and toddlers know more, learn more, and experience even more than adults!"
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Here, some of her fascinating findings:
Baby's got your number early on.
The conventional wisdom was that kids couldn't understand how other people's minds worked until they were 7, but new studies show they're figuring it out by 7 months. "Even young babies know that people have desires and goals," Gopnik says. "When your baby sees you reach for an object, he gets that you want to grab it."
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Your toddler knows there isn't really a polar bear who lives in her pocket.
Up to 70 percent of kids have pretend playmates, Gopnik says, and it's their way of making sense of the world. "At 3 or 4, children understand that their imaginary friends aren't real," Gopnik says. "But to try to figure out how other people work, they start imagining the possibilities: What if a person was 10 feet tall or invisible?"
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Children need answers like plants need water.
When your child constantly asks, "Why, why, why?" she's not trying to annoy you - she can't help it, Gopnik says. "Kids are driven to find out as much as they can about the world," she says. "So they hound adults for info." Be patient, give answers, and brace yourself for the day when you'll be aching for your teen to seek you out!
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