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Peekaboo, hiding, not seeing and more | Creating object permanence and trust

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Peekaboo, hiding, no longer seeing and more: I'll tell you here why children simply can't get enough of 'peekaboo'.

Whether you take a baby from the Netherlands or a baby from any country in the world, they will all reign amused on the simple hide and seek game 'peekaboo'.

Peekaboo, hiding, not seeing and more | Creating object permanence and trust

The fun is great and knows no cultural or linguistic boundaries. In this game children learn to recognize and remember people, events and objects.

Peekaboo, as old as the road to Rome and known all over the world. Each country has its own variant: “peekaboo” in English, “coucou” in French and “cucu” in Spanish and Italian.

Children can have endless fun with peek-a-boo or hiding games. Hiding the eyes, and conjuring them up again, provokes a contagious laugh from your child.

Older children in turn fall for the successor to peekaboo: hide and seek! It is a very simple game and yet children can entertain themselves endlessly.

However, it is also a very educational game, in which children learn to remember and recognize. Scientists call it "object permanence."

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What is object permanence?

I will tell you how children learn about object permanence and how it develops in your baby.

Object permanence develops in the first year of your child's life and it continues to develop even after this year. You will be surprised how much he learns in a short time!

A small baby, between 0-6 months, has not yet developed a sense of object permanence. If your baby doesn't see something, it doesn't exist as far as he's concerned.

Between 6 and 12 months, however, a baby develops the ability to retain an image in its memory without seeing it: object permanence.

If a ball rolls under the cupboard, a child who has already developed object permanence will look for it.

When the ball rolls out of a baby's field of vision between 6 and 12 months, it knows that it is – in this case – under the cupboard.

Your child knows what the ball looks like and has a picture of the ball in his memory.

Development of object permanence

It is related to separation anxiety. Your child mainly has mom or dad in his head. After all, they are most often near him and take care of him – in the beginning almost 24 hours a day.

For example, when mommy leaves, the baby knows very consciously that it misses mom.

Object permanence arises in the following order:

  • 0-6 months: what baby doesn't see doesn't exist for him either
  • 6-12 months: what baby sees disappear – the ball under the cupboard – he understands and he knows where it is
  • around 10-12 months: your child will look for the ball. For example, you have two cloths, cloth A and cloth B, you put the ball under cloth A and your child finds it there. If you then put it under cloth B, your little one will first look at A and then at B
  • After 12 months: Your child immediately searches under the right cloth - B in this case - but if you place a different color cloth over cloth B or, for example, an inverted plastic bowl, your little one will be surprised and look no further
  • Between 1-2 years: your little one will look further under the bowl, because he realizes that objects have an independent existence

In the phase around 10-12 months, your little one reasons that the ball – found under cloth A – is always there. Last time it was there, so now too!

As far as he is concerned, the ball has no existence of its own. Only in a later phase does it realize that objects have an independent existence.

Also read about how children learn about their “me”? [+self-image booster!]

Why play hide-and-seek or peek-a-boo?

These games, according to all child psychologists, contain a powerful learning technique, apparently it lays the foundation on which our adult thinking pattern is later built.

For a newborn baby, nothing is taken for granted. They are born in a confusing world and learn to place everything in their environment step by step.

Did you know that between the first and second year of life a child can often suffer from separation anxiety?

The Peekaboo game teaches the child that if he can't see you, you're not really gone. By playing a lot of 'Peek-a-boo' or hide and seek, the child learns to trust that you will always come back.

In the first two years of a child's life, the 'peek-a-boos' are of great importance. In those years the realization comes that a ball that rolls under the cupboard does not just disappear.

On the basis of these kinds of hiding games, children learn the fundamental principle that things that you cannot see (anymore) still exist.

The child also learns to trust that you will come back when you are away for a while.

The reason why the game never seems to get boring is because it evolves with your child. First as a spectator and then as a protagonist.

At some point, your little one takes control by hiding and reappearing. The older kids love it!

Peekaboo, hiding, not seeing and more | Creating object permanence and trust

Nice ' Peekaboo ' play tips for the first years

You can start playing the Peekaboo game when your baby is still very small. Hide your eyes behind your hands, then reveal them again while yelling "Peek-a-boo." Your child will love it!

There are plenty of fun peek-a-boo or hide-and-seek games for a little one. I've put them in order for you.

Game for babies aged 6-12 months

Try to find out if your baby already has images in memory without seeing the object.

Place an object - that could be a ball, cube or any other small object - under a tea towel. Your child can see that you put it underneath.

If your child starts looking for the object, he already has object permanence.

Read more about 52 weeks of playing and learning with your baby: a complete milestones guide

Game from 10 months

With your baby there is the realization that people and things can be gone (for a while), but then also come back.

Put down two or three cloths and put one object under another cloth over and over and let your little one search.

Game from 12 months

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Hide another object or toy under the cupboard or table! Maybe in a shoe that's close by.

Your child will even look for the hidden object without seeing where it has been placed.

If it takes a very long time, show him where the toy is hidden and of course bring it out again with – say – an enthusiastic 'Peek-a-boo'!!

Game for the toddler

Handkerchief game: You sit on the floor opposite your toddler. Hold a cloth in front of your face, pull it away and yell, "Peek-a-boo!"

Your toddler will like to hold the cloth in front of his face and want to pull the cloth. Make sure your sweetie doesn't think it's too scary, otherwise you'll just do it to yourself.

Find a complete guide here: Playing with your toddler at key milestones 12 to 24 months

Toddler game

Toddlers play the Peekaboo game differently; they play hide and seek.

They hide in a place with the thought that they will be found. It's about the confidence they have, to be found.

Guess what? They choose the same hiding place every time.

Later on, your toddler will realize that he is not completely hidden after all. Then he starts looking for new hiding places.

Even toddlers often like to play the handkerchief game!

Also read: Playing With Toddler: 11 Tips To Help Them Learn With Fun

Other seek and find games

Hidden object games are always a favorite among young children!

Finding young children toys with doors always very interesting, they put a car in the garage, close the door and know that when the door opens again, the car is there.

That also creates trust for them!

What is also great fun for toddlers and preschoolers is filling a basket with various objects that they have to find themselves, each object has a certain number of points.

The one with the most points wins. Whoever has been able to find all objects may receive an additional bonus point.

For example:

  • find a flat object (2 points)
  • find a 3 leaf clover (3 points)
  • find a red fruit that grows on a tree (3 points)
  • look for a large green leaf (1 point)
  • find a daisy (3 points).

You can also hide some objects nearby yourself.

After 5-10 minutes the children have to hand in the baskets with the found items and the points are counted, the one with the most points wins.

You can also set up a fun scavenger hunt; I often took my little ones to 'het Kabouterbos'; A walk where you always had to 'find' another gnome along the way.

The children then had to perform an assignment for each gnome, such as 'sing a song', 'solve a riddle' or 'find an object'.

Nice to set out such a course for a children's party.


From newborn baby to toddler; all of them like games that inspire confidence and that make their place in the world 'clearer'.

We all want to know where we stand in this world, right? Even our little ones!

It's oh so important to play peek-a-boo and hide-and-seek games with them. The confidence that children develop in the return of objects important to them and especially of loved and famous people is their basis.

Building on this foundation will continue, so make sure it's solid!

With a good foundation, our children are more likely to grow up into pleasant adults and thus contribute to a pleasant and better world.

How nice is it if you as a parent or educator can pass on this valuable basis to your child?

Also read: Hugging | Why it is necessary and good for your child

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.