Cognitive development is one of the most important parts of your baby's journey during the early years of their life. Meeting cognitive milestones will not only help your child be more intelligent in the future and be able to learn more easily, but it will also help aid them in their physical and social milestones as well. As a parent, you may find yourself asking, "What can I do to help support my baby's early cognitive development?"
Provide a Variety of Engaging Games
Your child will most quickly learn through play instead of mere repetition. Finding games that your child can have fun with and will stimulate their mind is an excellent way to boost their cognitive development as well as enjoying some private time with them. The games can be simple games that focus on dexterity such as building with blocks to games that work on object permanence such as peek-a-boo or hide and seek. Try to vary the games so that your little one does not become bored and stops engaging.
Identify Objects, Places, and Sounds When Out in the World or Simply at Home
Your child will gain a significant portion of their vocabulary from their parents, so starting to build this bank of vocabulary at a young age is a major step in cognitive development. When using items at home, show the item to the child, identify it, and tell them how it is used. When out in the world, point out interesting objects and places, and discuss how things are used and why such as " A car is used to bring you places." Even if your baby does not seem to focus or respond to everything you are saying, they always hear you and retain information like sponges.
Ask Your Child Questions
Engaging your child through questions is a great way to get them to learn new things, improve on communication skills, and help aid them in developing problem-solving skills. Be sure to vary your type of questions including ones that ask who, what, why, how, when, and where. You can also use questions to have your child learn to improve decision-making skills by making choices in their daily activities. Remember to keep the choices simple and limit it to a couple of items, so your child does not become overwhelmed and withdraw. Try to have them make choices about items that they will want to make decisions about such as, "Do you want crackers or fruit for your snack?" If the choices matter to the child, they are more likely to make a thought-out decision.
Work on the Basics
It is never too early to start educating your child on the basic skills that they will need throughout their lives. One of the first things to start on is teaching your child to count, as this will be the foundation for almost all of their math skills in the future. Having this foundation early will make other math skills simpler when they begin to be introduced to them. You will also want to get them started with their alphabet as this will serve as the foundation for their reading skills. You can integrate both these skills easily during the day through songs or by reading and pointing out letters or counting items on a page.
It is important to remember when working on cognitive skills with a baby, you are laying the foundation at this point in their life. Do not despair if they are not reciting their alphabet or rote counting to ten right away. While all mimicking of these skills should be rewarded with encouragement and praise if your baby does not repeat them regularly, it does not mean they are not absorbing the information. So continue to provide these essential foundations to help your child be successful in the future.