How much does a baby actually remember? Somewhere in a baby’s memory bank are there experiences from infancy that will somehow feel familiar one day, but they won’t know why? Or are our little one’s memories fleeting soon after they happen? I tend to think it’s the former.
The other day, my friend left a comment on one of my social media posts about a recent family trip we took with our toddler.
“It’s too bad your daughter won’t remember any of these places you are taking her.”
In many ways, I agree with my friend. It is too bad that my 15-month-old daughter won’t remember her first plane ride, her first trip out of the country, the first time she saw a waterfall, the ocean, or the mountains.
I do wish Avery remembered the first time she saw snow, or felt rain, or saw the leaves change color.
There is a lot Avery won’t technically remember, but in some ways, all of those experiences will build upon each other.
What does that mean?
A baby’s memory
Everything you experience goes into a memory bank, whether you recall that moment or not. So even though Avery won’t actually remember details of certain experiences, places, or things, they will still be vaguely familiar to her.
For example, we have two dogs who are very much a part of our family. Avery will never remember the first time she saw a dog because she has grown up around them since the day she was born. Dogs have always been a part of her life, and because of that, Avery loves dogs! In contrast, a friend of mine has a daughter a year older than Avery. That little girl did not grow up around dogs, and because of that she’s terrified of them. Even tiny dogs… She screams and cries because they are unfamiliar to her… And we all know the unfamiliar can be scary, especially to a child.
Why travel matters to a baby’s memory
Travel is the same way. I didn’t fly on an airplane until I was 7 years old. I distinctly remember it, and it was scary. The sound of the engine, the feeling you get in your ears when the pressure changes… all of it was a bit unsettling to me.
While Avery won’t necessarily remember her first plane ride, it will always seem familiar to her because she’s done it before… many times. The same goes for hearing foreign languages or being surrounded by people of a different ethnicity. Traveling to foreign lands will just be a part of her life. And because of that, I hope she ends up loving it just as much as she loves dogs!