Right from the start of his life, your baby’s brain is hard at work as he makes sense of the world and himself. Even when it looks like simple play, your baby is learning all the time. Here are some simple and fun play ideas to support your baby’s cognitive development.
About baby play and cognitive development
Babies are active and curious learners, busy watching, thinking and trying to work things out. They learn and grow through new experiences, especially new play experiences.
Through play, babies develop the skills to think, understand, remember, imagine and work out what might happen next. These skills are all part of your baby’s cognitive development.
For babies, play is mostly about back-and-forth interactions with you. When you interact with your baby during play, you give your baby important information that she uses to understand the world. For example, a simple game of peekaboo helps baby learn that when dad disappears, he comes back too.
And through play, you’re also creating and sharing new experiences together that support your baby’s thinking and learning and encourage her to do more of it.
What to expect: baby cognitive development
Your baby is likely to:
From 8-16 months, your baby might look more like he’s experimenting during play – he might throw a bowl towards the floor and watch it fall, push over the rubbish bin, or throw toys at the wall to figure out how things work. He’ll test all toys and any objects within reach – cups, saucers and even pets.
This isn’t being naughty. It’s your baby learning about cause and effect – that is, ‘If I do this, that will happen’. It’s not surprising that your baby enjoys cause-and-effect toys – playing with them means she can push a button and something happens.
If your baby has lots of opportunities to test out the environment, he has the chance to learn more and more every day. If you set up a safe environment and always supervise your baby, he can roam and learn with freedom.
Play ideas for encouraging baby cognitive development
Here are some fun and simple play ideas for you and your baby:
All babies are unique and will develop at their own pace. If you’re concerned about any aspect of your child’s development, it’s a good idea to visit your paediatrician or General Practitioner (GP). If your child goes to an early childhood education and care service, you can talk with your child’s educators to help you decide whether there are problems you need to have checked out.
Play is a great relationship builder. Spending time playing with your child sends a simple message – you are important to me. Help your child learn about who she is and where she fits in the world.