Cognitive Development Activities For Infants – Most first time parents ask, “how to promote cognitive development in infants and toddlers.”  Playtime with babies has a significant impact on their social-emotional and cognitive development.

Children develop at their own paces, but parents can give them all the opportunities and encouragement possible. With a playful touch, your baby will thrive. While listening to you sing, your child will develop language skills.

Roni Cohen Leiderman, Ph.D., Dean of the Mailman Segal Center for Human Development at Nova Southeastern University, emphasizes that parents’ love, time, attention, and touch “are the most important parts of growth and development of infant and toddler.”

Co-author of Let’s Play and Learn Together, Leiderman reiterates that planning and connecting with your baby “gets their brain development going.”

In all aspects of parent-child interaction, learning is always present.

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Cognitive Development Activities For Infants
Playing Is Learning When It Comes To Developmental Activities [1]

It may sound like a mystical transference of knowledge, but developmental activities for infants need be nothing more than a game of peek-a-boo. This game teaches listening and tracking while developing your infant’s (or toddler’s) auditory senses and eye muscles.

Interaction passes on the nuances of language and nonverbal communication, facial expressions, and inherited habits. It is no wonder that most of us have the same habit of furrowing the eyebrows when making a decision. Choosing which job to take, which contractor to hire, or whether to eat an apple or orange are all examples of decision-making skills in action.

We have compiled a list of simple but fun developmental activities for both parents and babies.

Silly Words Songs and Rhyme
Developmental Activities For Infants #9: Silly Words, Songs, and Rhyme

You need not memorize a Mother Goose rhyme or poem from Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. What matters is your voice, intonations and vocalizations. Use exaggerated movements and emphasis to develop your baby’s listening skills.

Robert Myers, Ph.D., a founding child and adolescent psychologist at the Child Development Institute, emphasizes that stimulating a baby’s brain from birth to 6 months helps them explore and learn about their environment and how to interact with it.

Sing to your baby emphasizing action words. Act out and indulge in silly facial expressions that will surely delight. This will help your child develop an ear for language while improving your charade skills in time for that summer barbecue.

Color Tracking
How To Promote Cognitive Development In Infants And Toddlers #8: Color Tracking

To foster your baby’s visual development and tracking skills, play this tracking activity.

Any soft, small and colorful toy will do. A plushie or soft, bright dangling ball both work. While your baby is lying down, wiggle the toy to capture their attention and then slowly let it touch the tummy or a part of the body so they can observe. Do this slowly and watch if their eyes follow the toy.

Couple this activity with a few silly sounds that will entertain and develop cognitive skills associating visual stimuli with sounds.

Sense Of Sound
Developmental Activities For Infants #7: Sense of Sound

Develop your baby’s ear for language by playing this game. This is best played during changing time when your baby is safely laid on the changing table.

Procure a clean cardboard tube like a paper towel or toilet paper roll tube.
Make sure the baby sees your face, then say “I will tell you something…” or something similar. Make a big announcement out of it.

Bring the tube closer and whisper a few words. You can begin with, “I love you”. Use beautiful, positive words as another secret. If the baby looks confused, let them see you mouthing the words.

This activity encourages your baby to learn new words and a sense of intrigue.

Tip#6 Mirroring
Cognitive Development Activities For Infants #6: Mirroring

This activity improves the memory of your child and helps foster motor skills.

Make tapping motions on a table to see how well your child can follow your actions. Begin with an action that your child already performs like banging the table. Then, add a different activity such as clapping, waving, or making kissing sounds while opening and closing your eyes and mouth. Start slowly so your baby will not feel frustrated.

This is a conversation between your child and yourself through actions that aid in the physical development of gross and fine motor skills.

Tip#5 Smart Stacking
How To Promote Cognitive Development In Infants And Toddlers #5: Smart Stacking

As physical development continues, motor skills develop. Fostering these skills alongside other developmental activities is a more holistic approach.

Gather a few stackable plastic cups. Measuring cups will do as long as they are safe for children. Stack them, and then push them until the cups topple.

This is an excellent cause-and-effect activity. You can add listening and vocabulary by adding a story or rhyme to the stacking activity.

Tip#4 Reading
Developmental Activities For Infants #4: Reading

Reading to your baby is the best way to foster the habit. New words and colorful pictures stimulate the brain. Start by using cloth books and pointing out the pictures.

If the pictures are textured, let your baby’s finger touch the texture while describing the feeling. You can take this one step further and use the new textures like “soft” or “smooth” by pointing them out on your little one’s body.

This mellow playtime activity is perfect for the end of the day. Involve reading in your bedtime routine, and continue it through the toddler years and beyond.

Tip #3 Shake The Bottle
Cognitive Development Activities For Infants #3: Shake the Bottle

Dr. Leiderman suggests filling a bottle with colored rice or pasta. The bottle makes new sounds presenting babies with an element of surprise and an understanding of cause and effect.

Fill a see-through 16-ounce bottle with colored rice and pasta, and assemble several bottles. Glue the top to avoid accidental spillage. Let your baby rattle and roll the containers to develop fine motor skills, auditory discrimination, and cause and effect skills.

It can also be an early step in learning problem-solving skills.

Tip#2 Walk In Nature
How To Promote Cognitive Development In Infants And Toddlers #2: Walk in Nature

No one is a better teacher than Mother Nature on a sensory nature walk. Let children crawl or sit on the grass, play with the ground, leaves, water, and pebbles. Be observant and cautious during this time as babies tend to put things in their mouths.

A lesson on humanity’s relationship to nature can also start here. It is never too early to learn about our world.

Tip #1 Feet Features
Developmental Activities For Infants #1: Feet Features

Gather a variety of textured cloths such as scarves, handkerchiefs, felt or tea towels. Hold your baby upright, and let the fabric touch each foot one at a time. If your baby is already crawling, have them crawl over the materials to develop sensory skills and body awareness. Observe the textures and materials your baby prefers, and use them during your next playtime.

Dr. Myers reiterated that developmental activities foster the bonds between parents and children. More importantly, playtime makes parents better observers; “when they go to the pediatrician, they can give the doctor good information.”

Your child’s first two years are a magical time that reveals the huge scope of what a child can learn.

Make each minute matter, and make each moment last a lifetime. That is what those small playtime moments really mean. It’s amazing what a game of peek-a-boo can accomplish.

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Cognitive Development Activities For Infants, How To Promote Cognitive Development In Infants And Toddlers, Growth And Development Of Infant And Toddler Resources;
[1]   The University of Utah; Center for Child Care and Family Resources, Children learn through play, July 2003.

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