Cognitive Development of Infants and Toddlers
The term, cognitive development can seem vague and confusing when we are talking
about infants and toddlers. Cognitive development has to do with those abstract and
hard to define thinking skills. What doesn’t involve thinking? It is true that there is a
cognitive aspect to almost anything that you do with infants and toddlers. In a sense,
infants and toddlers are the true scientists of the early childhood world. They are on an
endless quest to figure out how the world works and how to make the world work.
Children in the first years of life are actively creating a mental framework into which
they fit any new knowledge as it comes along. This workshop will outline some basic
cognitive skills that children develop in the first three years, and some basic things we
can do to foster this development.
Give Children Floor Time
Putting infants on a blanket on the floor
with toys to explore is one important way
to stimulate cognitive development.
Since infants learn from handling objects
and from their actions on the objects,
they need much time to experience these
opportunities of discovery. Infants and
toddlers alike learn from their actions on
and the reactions of items. Give them
much time and space to pursue these
We hear a lot about so-called educational toys. Yet in reality, most toys are educational
in that the child learns much from exploring the item. However, some toys are easy to
identify as helping a child learn specific skills.
Shape sorter toys where the child matches a shape
to a hole help develop familiarity with similarities
and differences. Having items with similar
properties such as snap beads help children
recognize items that are alike. Toys with parts
designed to fit together according to size help
children recognize variations in size. And simple
items like balls help children learn scientific
principles of rolling and throwing. The key
element in selecting toys for these very young
children is that the toys should be something that
they can handle—not something that they just sit
and watch such as wind-up or electronic toys.
COM1/Assign 1a Cognitive Development # 56