Cognitive development in early childhood refers to the growth of a child’s ability to learn, think, relate between a cause and a problem, and solve problems throughout the early years. It is an important part of a child’s overall growth and development and also lays the foundation for many other skills to develop in later years.
The Importance of Knowing Cognitive Development Milestones
Cognitive development milestones are development milestones that can be measured by the way your child sees, explores, touches, thinks, and solves problems in their day-to-day activities. These cognitive development milestones in early childhood show how your child collects information and processes them.
It is important to keep in mind that each child is unique and reach their cognitive development milestones at their own pace. Hence, as a parent, avoid comparing your child’s cognitive development with other children. Even twins can reach milestones at different speeds. However, it is important for parents to know the normal cognitive development milestones in early childhood that a child is expected to reach throughout infancy to toddler years.
This helps in two ways.
- It helps parents track their baby’s growth and development and accordingly plan activities to develop certain skills
- It also helps them seek medical advice faster in case of any development delays.
Here is a checklist of milestones as per your child’s age. However, this is not to say that a child who has not hit these development milestones at the age mentioned is not healthy or not growing. We have used age segments to help you understand easily.
Cognitive Development Milestone Chart 0-12 Months
In the First Month -
● Your newborn baby can see objects 8-12 inches away from their face.
● They are sensitive to sound that is close to their body.
● They get startled by loud noises and express their excitement by arching their back or kicking their legs up in the air.
Also Read: Ideal Sleeping Hours for New Born Baby
Between the First and Second Months -
● They can follow moving objects with their eyes.
● They can stare into your eyes.
By The Time It is 3 Months, the Baby Can –
● Recognize familiar faces.
● Recognize the difference between breast and bottle.
● Fuss or cry for attention when they get bored.
● Follow movement of other people or objects by turning their head and watching them.
● Get disturbed by loud noises.
Also Read: When does Your Baby Begin to Recognise You?
Between 3-6 Months, Your Little One Should –
● Communicate when they are happy, sad, or bored by giggling, crying, and fussing respectively.
● Look at you while being fed.
● Reach for their toys. They also grab toys or other objects and put them in their mouth.
● Apart from their eyes, they start using their hands and feet to explore their surroundings.
● Can transfer objects from one hand to the other.
● Try to hold things with their hands and legs that are away from them.
● Look around and fix gazes at particular objects.
Between 6-9 Months, Your Baby Should -
● Watch falling objects.
● Look for objects that you hide from them.
● They start understanding and playing peek-a-boo.
● Transfer things smoothly from one hand to the other.
● Be able to sit.
● Be able to turn the pages of a book.
Between 9-12 Months Your Baby -
● Is capable of playing with blocks.
● Can put things in a container.
● Can identify pictures with the names.
● Bang objects like toys, utensils, and boxes.
● Start using common objects like brushes, cups, etc, properly.
● Can follow simple instructions like sitting, lifting, etc.
● Start exploring things by banging their heads, holding, shaking, throwing, licking, sucking, and biting.
● Can poke at objects and people with their index fingers.
● Can start to stand up on their own.
Between 12-18 Months, Your Child -
● Is capable of putting things inside a container
● Can take out objects from a bag or container
● Can drink from a cup
● Can use the spoon to eat food
● Can brush their teeth themselves
● Can run a comb through the hair
● Can hold things with a firm grip
● Learn simple words and understand their meanings, e.g., mummy, daddy, sit, stop, go, run, clap, etc
● Learn to follow instructions
● Can clap properly
Between 18-24 Months, Your Darling Should -
● Learn to scribble with crayons on the paper, walls, and floors
● Be able to point to their body parts like nose, ear, eyes, etc
● Understand instructions better
● Understand the emotions of other people. They know if you are angry or happy
● Start identifying more common objects
● Understand how to get the attention of others
● Start showing interest in toys
● Learn to play
● Start enjoying story time
● Turn the pages of a book
● Start playing with blocks
By 2 Years, Your Little One -
● Starts following directions better
● Follow more complicated directions like “pick up and put your toys in the toy basket”
● Starts playing with blocks and can build towers and more complicated structures with bricks
● Starts to learn and find hidden objects
● Starts to love the game ‘hide and seek’
● Starts touching objects to understand how they feel
● Begins to identify various shapes
● Begins to identify different colors
● Starts to identify objects by looking at pictures, for example, they can look at a picture of a dog and say the name
● They can sing songs and recite simple nursery rhymes
By 3 Years, Your Toddler -
● Can solve simple picture puzzles by putting the pieces together
● Can draw shapes like circles, ovals, etc
● Can become more confident in pretend-plays
● Can tell you stories
● Can use their imagination to create stories
● Can sort and match shapes
● Can sort objects by their colors
● Can play Mechanix where they can build objects using screws and bolts
● Can learn and understand numbers
● Can screw and unscrew the lid of containers
Also Read: 15 DIY Kid Friendly Activities for Toddlers
Between 4 -5 Years, Your Child -
● Can draw simple shapes
● Can follow complicated two-three step directions
● Learns to count, can count 10 objects easily
● Learns to draw common objects like birds, humans, flowers, trees, huts, etc
● Can understand the basic concept of time
● Can use scissors (give only plastic scissors)
● Knows alphabets
● Is capable of playing board games
● Can narrate a story
● Develops taste for certain food items
● Understands the concept of time and knows when it is morning and night
● Understands the concept of money
● Can spell their own name
● Can read and write
● Can sing an entire song
● Can recite a poem
● Can identify familiar people and strangers
● Can identify all the body parts
● Can identify most of the common objects and name them
A Word from Raising Superstars
As a parent, you have a big role to plan in enhancing the cognitive development milestones in early childhood of your child. There are many activities that can be planned to improve their intellectual abilities like concentration, thinking, retaining and collecting information and focussing. The good news is that children are always ready to learn. That is why a parent should always promote and create a learning atmosphere, share information when a baby is curious to know more, encourage them to explore more, and try to answer their innocent questions. There should not be any restrictions placed on a child’s natural inclination to explore or learn. Let them solve simple problems. Provide them with gentle guidance and encouragement and be patient and calm while they try to learn something new.