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Session notes for Baby is experimenting with cause and effect Stages: 7 to 12 months


Babies at this stage are constantly experimenting and learning about the world. They test using ‘cause and effect’.

Cause and effect is when babies understand they can make things happen through their actions — or, ‘What happens when I drop my spoon off the high chair?’

The SKIP baby wall frieze shows this in the picture with a baby in a high chair, looking down to see where the spoon they’ve just dropped has gone. The message reads, ‘Let me do things over and over again…it helps me learn’.

A cause and effect scenario might follow — after baby has ‘caused’ the spoon to drop, they make some sort of a noise to alert mum. The ‘effect’ is that she picks the spoon up and puts it back on the tray, to which baby responds by promptly dropping it over the side again. This experimentation could go on all day.

Ask the whānau:

  • Have you seen anything like this happening with your baby?
  • How is your baby experimenting?

Making brain connections through repetition

Brain connections are made as babies receive information from their experiences. A baby will need to do some things over and over to test whether the same thing happens every time.

Through repeating these experiences, brain connections become stronger and lasting. They get covered in myelin too — a fatty coating that wraps around the axons of the brain cells, helping messages travel quickly and efficiently along them.

Babies are like little scientists learning from their experiments. They’ll move from one curious experiment to another as their interest changes. Their brain is ready to learn different things at different times.

  • What have you noticed baby doing over and over again?
  • What do you think they might be learning from this?

There are lots of things they’ll be doing that they’re learning from:

  • They’ll be noticing what happens when they drop, throw, shake or bang objects.
  • They’ll look for things that seem to have disappeared from sight.
  • They’ll look around, trying to find the source of sounds they hear.
  • They’ll learn that when they wave, someone else will wave back — and maybe say ‘ka kite’ or ‘bye-bye’.
  • They’ll learn that if they splash water at bath-time everyone might get wet.

All of this is cause and effect.

Thinking of the learning that’s happening for baby through all their experimenting might help mum and dad see wiping up the bathroom floor (again) as the result of having a scientist in the whānau, rather than purely a household chore.

  • Shall we see if baby’s interested in a new ‘cause and effect’ experiment?
  • What’s in the toy box or around the house that we could use?
  • Are there any items that are safe to stack that they can knock over?
  • Are there any things that will make interesting noises when they get banged together?

Baby is learning all the time, always exploring and experimenting.

How does this topic relate to the SKIP resources?

Baby Wall Frieze – Tukuna ahau kia mahi, kia mōhio ai ahau me pēhea te ako - let me do things over and over again.

Six things children need - Te mahi pono - ngā hua me ngā hapa - consistency and consequences.


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