Cognitive skills refer to the way one thinks, communicates, and solves problems. During the first year of life, children undergo incredible cognitive development as they begin to explore and make sense of the world around them. Below are some key cognitive skills that children develop from 0-12 months of age.
- Attention and concentration: An infant’s attention span will naturally be quite short as they are still learning how to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. As they grow and develop, however, they will gradually be able to concentrate for longer periods. You will notice this by your baby’s increased ability to focus on a face or object.
- Memory: Children's memory skills also begin to develop during their first year of life. Although they may not have long-term memories at this point, babies can start to remember familiar faces and routines. In fact, infants will begin showing anticipatory behaviors in relation to familiar routines, such as rooting or sucking at the sight of a bottle.
- Problem-solving: Children are naturally curious and love to explore and discover new things. During their first year of life, they will start to use their problem-solving skills to figure out how to achieve their goals, such as how to get a toy that is out of reach, how to open a door, or how to get Mommy and Daddy to pick them up.
- Language development: Language is an essential cognitive skill that children begin to develop quite early on. They start by cooing and babbling and eventually progress to using words and phrases to communicate their needs and wants. Check out this article to learn more about the relationship between baby talk and language development!
- Object permanence: As children grow and develop, they begin to understand that objects still exist even when they are out of sight. This is known as object permanence and is an important cognitive skill that children develop at around 7 to 8 months.
- Cause and effect: Babies as young as 6 to 8 months old will also begin to understand that their actions can have consequences and that certain events are related to one another. A very popular experiment young children love to conduct is seeing what happens when they throw toys or food!
So, how can we support and encourage cognitive development in your young child? Here are some tips:
- Encourage exploration and play through engaging toys and activities: Children learn best when they are engaged and interested in what they are doing and play is an essential part of cognitive development. In the very early months, play will be as simple as a game of peek-a-boo. As they grow older, provide a variety of educational toys and activities that encourage cognitive development, such as puzzles, blocks, and shape sorters.
- Read to your child: Reading to your child is a great way to support language development and promote a love of learning. Choose books with colorful illustrations and simple, repetitive text to hold your child's attention.
- Talk to your child: Use simple, clear language when talking to your child and encourage them to communicate with you through words and gestures.
Sing and play music: Singing and listening to music can help support cognitive development in young children as it can help improve memory, concentration, and language skills. Check out Storypod’s audio library for plenty of infant-friendly options that were designed specifically to support these developments!