A Baby’s Memory and Why Travel Matters

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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.

Recently a friend made a comment 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 the details of a specific moment or not. So even though Avery won’t actually remember certain experiences, places, or things, they will still be vaguely familiar to her.

a baby's memory - baby with dog
Avery with our German Shepherd

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.

Parenthood and passports - A Baby's Memory
Avery’s fist flight

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!

What are your thoughts on a baby’s memory and traveling with infants? We’d love to hear from you! Drop us a comment below!


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8 comments on “A Baby’s Memory and Why Travel Matters”

She is 15 months? I bet she will remember “pictures” of her experiences. I remember things from my very early childhood. I didn’t have words yet to identify the images but I have very clear recollections of being places and doing things with my parents. Don’t stop taking her everywhere and doing new and interesting things with her. She may come up to you at age four and say remember the plane mommy? I did, and my ONLY plane ride before age four was at 13 months.

I am so happy to hear that! I really hope she does remember some of it. I only remember a toy box and a giant tree that was in our front yard from that age. But, we were also fairly poor so we didn’t go anywhere or do anything that might have stood out.

Very well said!! This goes for many ways we raise our kiddos but I’ve never really thought of it like that. With that being said…great thing about pictures, most of my childhood memories surround pics/videos. Love hearing your heat thru your words, Melissa!!

Exactly! Anything you instill in your children at a young age (a love for God, healthy eating habits, an active lifestyle or a love for travel) will simply become part of their life. And yes, our children’s lives will be very will documented in pictures and video. 🙂

I like your analogy! I was very fortunate that my parents took me travelling a lot throughout my childhood. And while I may not actually remember some of the trips myself, it feels like I do because I have heard stories about them so many times. The more you hear stories, the more real the trip seems and becomes part of your own memory bank.

Yes, stories do become (or feel like) actual memories. The pictures and videos we’ve taken throughout our travels with our daughter will also help. I don’t have a lot of pictures from my childhood, but my daughter’s life is very well documented already thanks to digital cameras.

I’m sure she will appreciate you guys for traveling with her at such an early age even though she won’t remember much of it. You will still be able to tell her about those memories you’ve made together and she’ll have the pictures to look at! 🙂

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