Why we don’t have any memories of our early childhood

Try to think back to your earliest memory? It is pretty hard, we know. A lot of things have happened in between then and now, but likely the earliest you will be able to remember happened around the age of seven. Anything earlier might be something you’ve created in your mind from stories or pictures. This is known as childhood amnesia, and it is not something out a soap opera, but in fact very real.

Ostensibly, it is believed that people don’t remember their early years because they had not fully developed the capacity for memory, but that is not true. Babies as old as six months can start to develop both long and short-term memories. It is this proven fact that has childhood amnesia baffling psychologists and researchers to this day. Some believe that this amnesia is caused not by the lack of an ability to retain memories, but how the memory-forming process changes as the child grows up.

However, while no one has quite pinpointed what causes the memories of early childhood to fade, that doesn’t mean you should let your children forget them forever. If your earliest childhood memory comes before late adolescence, it is because your parents made it so. They filled your head with vivid stories, showed countless photos of all the things that you did, and generally documented your young life. Like with what people traditionally believe when they hear the word “amnesia,” memory can be jogged by familiar things. Photos and stories, like they helped you, will help your child retain memories of those precious young years.

Whether it is just documented some funny time you were messing around together or keeping thorough track of your child’s “firsts,” documenting their early years is important not just for you, but for them. They will help your child remember who they were and that can affect who they grow up to be. Even if they don’t care about their early childhood memories until much later in life, by documenting them, it is visible proof that you have cared for them from the very first heartbeat.


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