The Magic (and Science) of Peekaboo!

At 6 months old, Judah is loving playtime. One of his favorite games right now is peekaboo. Whether it’s part of playtime in the morning or waiting in line at the grocery store, peekaboo is his new “party trick.” But it’s more than just a fun game for babies: peekaboo is actually a sign of an important developmental milestone.

For Judah, peekaboo might as well be magic — but here’s the cool science behind it!


Since Judah was five weeks early, we’ve been told to expect that preemie developmental milestones might be off from peers his age who were born full term. So while most baby books say, “expect baby to be doing XYZ at such-and-such months,” my husband and I have had to toss all that out the window since preemies forge their own developmental path at their own pace.

So color us surprised when, I randomly started doing peekaboo with Judah a couple of weeks ago… and he’s right on target!

The reason the game of peekaboo is so magical to babies is because of a developmental understanding known as “object permanence.” Basically, babies aren’t born with the understanding that when something is obscured or hidden, it doesn’t disappear. For babies, peekaboo really is a kind of a magic to them: when you hide your face, they really think you’ve disappeared!

Peekaboo teaches your baby over time that no, you’re not really gone forever. It teaches them that people and objects are permanent, even when hidden. Peekaboo sets the stage for further developmental growth, such as basic hide and seek: if you hide a toy behind your back, or drape it with a blanket, baby will go looking for it.

Peekaboo isn’t something that babies “get” right away; try it with a two-month old and you’ll be lucky if they’re a) awake or b) still looking at you when you reveal your face again. At about 6 to 9 months old, experts say that the concept of object permanence starts to take hold, making it a perfect time to introduce peekaboo into baby’s playtime.

All of this is to say: playing peekaboo with baby is like watching science in action… and it’s pretty cool to see happen with our son!

Add to the conversation