Your baby to conquer the world

Who I am
Philippe Gloaguen
Author and references

What a shock the birth: Chiara sees the light for the first time, perceives the movements in the delivery room, hears the noises and smells the new smells. She uses her ears and nose more than her eyes to orient herself.

Among the five senses, the one that Chiara uses the most is the sense of smell. A researcher did the following experiment: he put a few drops of breast milk on his mother's back. What happened? The newborn sought his first meal between his mother's shoulder blades.

What an adventure the view! Already in the first days Chiara manages to distinguish different colors, evaluate distances, even if for her there are only two types of space: nearby spaces and unreachable ones. Everything that is more than an arm away, she sees only blurry. Chiara perceives nearby things quite clearly, that is, those 20 to 30 centimeters away, which is the distance from which she sees her mother when she is nursed or changed. In the first few months, babies are completely focused on people. Sure, they recognize objects, like the pacifier or their own teddy bear, but they are far more interested in faces.

Until the sixth or seventh week they are especially attentive to contours and strong contrasts, such as dad's eyebrows. The four-week-old baby is able to fix his gaze on mom and dad. Three months later he laughs almost every day and forms his first relationships with people other than his parents.

Games and magic

As the months pass, Chiara moves better and better. She manages to grab the rattle, to hear her teddy bear: the world of things opens up before her eyes. Every time she turns her head she discovers something new. And really strange things happen: things come, but then they disappear ... Everything resembles, as the American developmental psychologist Andrew Meltzoff said, "an infinite magical representation". Only from six months on Chiara is able to understand that hidden objects do not cease to exist.

Hidden things

Between six and seven months Chiara manages to recognize her parents and older brother a few meters away. And she begins to distinguish the people she knows from strangers. She begins to crawl and wants to find out what she is close to. But not without mom, dad or little brother: not yet! She always wants someone close.

There is a game that Chiara really likes: finding hidden things. It is a game that amuses her and gives her security: she wants to say that the important things continue to be there even when she does not see them. Try playing the cuckoo game with your baby. You disappear behind the curtain and then put your head back out.

The senses of the nine-month-old baby function like those of an adult. At one year old, the child can guess the desires or thoughts of adults without them having expressed them verbally.

Fear and curiosity

Chiara is 15 months old and is walking. She finally manages to reach the things that interest her and she decides for herself where she wants to go. She goes out for a ride downtown with her mom and sees that huge fountain with gushing water. How could he resist? And she in fact she does not resist: she starts in fourth, magically attracted by the fountain.

In this period when he goes to a little crowded places, he still clings to his mother's legs, her only security in such a new world. The constant coming and going baffles her, nothing is familiar.

Fear but also the desire to discover. Babies around 15 months oscillate between attachment to the mother who protects them and curiosity for the world. Chiara takes a step forward, then goes back, looks around. Mom is still in her place: she feels safe and nothing can stop her. Curiosity is stronger than fear. The bond with the mother weakens, the desire to discover overwhelms her. She runs away, faster and faster, clicks with her little hands on the water, goes around the fountain. Suddenly she stops, turns around. She sees many people, but not her mother. The joy is gone. Her strength leaves her. The water, the fountain, nothing matters anymore. Chiara bursts into tears and starts screaming.

Only when the mother reappears and takes her in her arms does the fear disappear. She feels confident again and feels her strength is returning. She still wants to discover new things.

At 15 months, the baby needs familiar people: they are his safety. It is to them that he always returns, to them that he fills up. Only then does he have enough energy to go out and about in the outside world.


At the age of two, Chiara seems very sure of herself. "I can do everything and the world revolves around me:" that's how she thinks now. The more experiences she collects, the smarter she becomes, the more concrete her goals become.

Chiara plans: not for the whole day, but for the next few minutes. She looks at her dad's stereo: how many keys to push. And there is always something flashing somewhere. It is the most thrilling game imaginable! That the lights go on again today? Chiara is overwhelmed with joy and the desire to try. She has already forgotten that her mother forbade her from pressing the keys yesterday. Mom forbids her even today and she doesn't understand why she comes scolding her. Don't you see how beautiful this game is? Chiara is confused, she cries.

Chiara now has very specific ideas: when she goes out with her parents, she wants to wear the red sandals, take the blue elephant with her and go to the games. She sees everything in front of her. But she also knows that they brush their teeth the night before, then she reads the story. That's great! Because in this way she gives an order to her world of her and makes it understandable to herself. And this gives her support.

What happens if mom walks past the playground without stopping? What if the bedtime story skips because it's too late? What if the mother's projects do not coincide with those of Chiara? The little girl feels lost. She throws herself on the ground, screams and sees practically nothing, she only sees her desperation. At nearly three years old, she would like to move the world and stand still in the center of the world itself.

A fantastic world

Chiara is now four years old and her world is almost intangible. Because she is without logical boundaries. For Chiara it is perfectly clear that the sun is a living being: after all she is born and dies ... Sometimes she hides behind the clouds, sometimes she stands aside and warms her face.

It is not his fault if he collides with the corner of the table: it is the fault of the table. For this he kicks the table leg and scolds him. Ugly bad!

Chiara is sure that objects can interact and feel, just like her. For this reason, her world is more alive and colorful, but also more exciting and dangerous than that of adults. She now she needs a lot of protection and understanding from mom and dad, to be able to discover the news without fear.

Chiara is afraid of the monster who, according to her, has been inside the shoe cabinet for a few weeks. What a struggle sometimes with mum, when Chiara refuses to put on shoes. She screams and screams because she wants to save the monster's sharp-toothed feet. Mom takes the shoe and shakes it: "There is no monster here!" She says. But Chiara does not allow herself to be convinced either. It's not that easy to catch him, the monster! Sure he hid in another shoe, to plan another attack on Chiara's toes soon.

Chiara thinks differently from her parents. She cannot distinguish between fantasy and reality. For her, the cartoon monster or Winnie the Pooh is real, as are Snow White's little dwarves. That mom and dad don't understand it confuses her. You need clarification. She would like to know what Winnie does when the TV is off. Mom and dad don't always have time to answer: this makes Chiara wary. She wants to be taken seriously: after all she is already great!

Chiara's fantasies are important for her development. They are not insanities and not even lies. To Chiara they are used to classify her world. She uses her magical thought of her to make unknown connections. There are so many complicated things in the adult world ... And Chiara can only resist if she contrasts them with her personal world.

This is especially good for Chiara when she plays with other children. Together they capture the pirate ship sofa and try to catch the Strawberry Fairy in the garden. Chiara has a lot of fun, because she doesn't have to explain anything to her friends. They see the world with the same eyes and this makes her self-confident: why shouldn't her worldview be right if she is the same as other children?

Chiara's parents are often out of her world. They can only imagine what is going on in their little girl's head and must continually strive to live that world and understand it. In the meantime, problems arise: wouldn't it be better for their little girl to grow up and come out of her fantasy world? Can't you relate to reality? Of course all this doesn't make sense and they know it too. Fantasy is something extraordinary and should be left to children as long as possible. When they overcome their fears, Chiara's parents just have to be fascinated by their daughter's secret world. From the fluctuating passages between reality and fiction. And also from the fact that they too experienced all this more than 30 years ago. A shame, really, that they lost it somewhere on the way to maturity

Article from, the first German magazine for parents

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