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Cognitive Development for Infants 0-12 months

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Beginning at birth the construction of thought processes, such as memory, problem solving, exploration of objects etc, is an important part of an infant’s cognitive development. An infant needs to interact with their environment in order to learn about it. By using their senses, infants educate themselves about the world around them.

Cognitive Development Milestones

From 0 to 3 months

An infant needs to interact with their environment in order to learn about it. By using their senses, infants educate themselves about the world around them. An infant will develop preferences for certain experiences such as playing peek-a-boo (or) having a bath. They love repetition and also enjoy new experiences.

Milestones Achieved

  • looks toward direction of sound
  • eyes track slow moving target for brief period
  • turns head towards bright colours and lights
  • recognizes bottle or breast
  • turns head towards sound
  • looks at edges, patterns with light/dark contrast and faces
  • imitates adult tongue movements when being held/talked to
  • learns through sensory experiences
  • repeats actions but unaware of ability to cause actions
  • begins to reach for objects that please them

From 3 to 6 months

During this stage infants begin to organize their world through repeated interactions in their environment. Even though an infant doesn't have words to describe concepts such as soft, small, hard or big, they are already beginning to understand these concepts by using their senses. An infant's memory is also central to cognitive development. They can only remember objects for only a few minutes. However, by the end of this stage their ability to remember objects extends to a week or two.

Milestones Achieved

  • understands cause and effect (pick up a rattle, shake it, makes sound)
  • places objects in mouth for further exploration.
  • begins to reach for objects
  • swipes at dangling objects
  • shakes and stares at toy placed in hand
  • becomes bored if left alone for long periods of time
  • repeats accidentally caused actions that are interesting
  • enjoys games such as peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake
  • enjoys toys, grabbing objects, scrunching paper
  • explores objects by looking at and mouthing them
  • explores objects with mouth
  • explores with hands and mouth
  • struggles to get objects that are out of reach
  • opens mouth for spoon

From 6 to 12 months

From here on, infants will enjoy a stimulating environment which will enable them to develop skills and concepts faster. Activities and toys will become a focal point as infants begin to engage and interact with purpose.

Milestones Achieved

  • enjoys simple action songs
  • searches for partly hidden object
  • able to coordinate looking, hearing and touching
  • moves obstacle to get at desired toy
  • bangs two hand held objects together
  • prefers certain foods
  • responds to music with body motion
  • responds to own name
  • makes gestures to communicate
  • points to something they want
  • understands some things parent or familiar adults say to them
  • drops object to be picked up
  • accomplishes simple goals
  • smiles at image in the mirror
  • enjoys playing with water
  • shows interest in picture books and listening to stories
  • begins to understand gestures
  • responds to ‘bye bye’
  • listens attentively to sound-making toys and music
  • notices difference
  • shows surprise
  • explores objects in many different ways (shaking, banging, throwing, dropping)
  • finds hidden objects easily
  • looks at correct picture when image is named
  • imitates gestures

Infants receive the same information as everyone else but perceive it differently based on abilities, experiences and developmental level. Perception is an infant’s way of interacting with all the possibilities in their environment.

Last modified on Monday, January 5, 2015
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