Can a Twelve-Month-Old Think Logically?

The latest research is telling us that our little scientist in the crib can, in fact think logically before they can even talk. Maybe your baby was expecting daddy to walk in, but mommy walked in the room instead and he noticed this change in what he predicted. The latest research published in Science magazine tells use that even infants who are twelve-months-old can use some elementary logic and reasoning skills to make guesses and hypotheses.

The research showed that babies were shown items behind a screen that looked like an outline of a flower or a dinosaur, but when the screen was removed and the opposite item was present, babies would respond with increased eye gaze and even dilated pupils, signifying that they noticed a change in what was expected. This is very exciting! This tells us that babies are using deductive reasoning to make observations, predictions, and guesses about their world and what is happening in it before they can even speak.

Try this exercise:

Run water in your baby’s bathtub, take your baby’s clothes off, then instead of placing your baby in the bathtub, pull out toys and play with her on the bathroom floor. Does she look toward the tub in anticipation of getting in? Does she express confusion with the change in what she predicted? She is showing early scientific reasoning skills! Use this as an opportunity for language. Explain to her that you changed the plan. Tell her the bath will come soon, but you are going to play first. Watch closely for signs of her understanding you.

Try another exercise:

Hide a stuffed animal under a blanket when your baby is not looking. Then, while your baby is looking, hide a completely different stuffed animal under the blanket near the first one. Say, “Where is bear?” Then, pull out elephant. Watch your baby closely. Does he notice the switch? Does he look back at the blanket as if he is wondering where the bear went? If so, he is using deductive reasoning to make predictions. He is a little scientist.

Encourage this by talking to him. Say things like. “Mommy is putting you in your highchair. What do you think is going to happen next? Are you going to eat dinner or go night-night?”


Cesana-Arlotti, N., Martin A., Teglas, E., Vorobyova, L., Cetnarski, R., (2018). Precursors of logical reasoning in preverbal human infants. Science Journal. Vol. 359, Issue 6381, pp.1263-1266.

Stetka, B., (2018). Babies think logically before they can talk. Scientific American. Retrieved from: