5 Ideas to Encourage Your Baby's Cognitive Development

10 May, 2020
Providing babies with a stimulating environment helps their cognitive development.

From the moment they’re born, babies start to try to understand the world around them. To do this, right from those very first days, their brains strive to try to understand their environment and give it meaning. You can help to promote your baby’s cognitive development by using the different ideas and proposals that we’ll offer you in this article.

How does cognitive development work during childhood?

There are numerous studies and theories about children’s cognitive development. However, one person in particular has stood out over the years, and continues to spark interest in this issue. His name is Jean Piaget, the famous Swiss psychologist.

According to him, cognitive development is the way that human beings change as regards to their ability to think and reason, all in parallel with their biological development, from birth through to old age.

Piaget visualizes human cognition as a network of mental structures that allow us to adapt to our environment. In other words, the child would create these structures, selecting and interpreting each new experience, in order to get to know everything around them in a deeper way.

5 Ideas to Encourage Your Baby's Cognitive Development

Piaget’s theory of cognitive development covers four stages: sensorimotor, pre-operational, concrete operations, and logical-formal. Through these stages, the child would develop their exploratory behaviors until they reach adolescence and, finally, adulthood. However, how does this cognitive change take place?

Cognitive change occurs through a series of processes: adaptation, assimilation, accommodation, balance, and organization. The child, on entering into interaction with his or her environment, builds mental structures and patterns, and adapts to them.

In short, once the child interacts with the environment and builds schemes to adapt to it, two processes can originate:

  • Assimilation – when the child interprets the environment from current mental schemes. 
  • Accommodation – adaptation in which the child uses old mental schemes and adjusts them according to the new environment.

How can you encourage your baby’s cognitive development?

Cognitive stimulation through colors and shapes

This is especially for newborns and babies up to three months of age. We suggest that you use toys like rattles and other similar objects. Try showing and then removing toys and objects from your baby’s field of vision while they’re lying in the crib.

Play is the best strategy to promote your baby’s cognitive development

Without a doubt, babies learn and grow through play. Through play, they develop skills to think, understand, communicate, remember, imagine, and deduce what might happen next. During play, your baby interacts and gets important information to help them understand the world.

“Play is a great relationship builder. Spending time playing with your child makes them see that they’re important to you. This message helps your child know who they are and where they fit in the world.”

– Julie Green –

Read books out loud to your baby

If you do this, then your baby will be hearing new concepts, perceiving new shapes and colors, and getting more information about their environment.

At the same time, they’ll be developing their hearing and memory. It’s a good idea to try to read expressively, using different voices for each character.

5 Ideas to Encourage Your Baby's Cognitive Development

Build a “safe environment” for your baby to explore

Create a suitable and safe environment in which your baby can move freely, always under supervision. They’ll be able to interact with their surroundings and learn from them through exploration. Try separating off a part of a room for your baby to move around in alone, and introduce different objects for them to interact with.

Talking to them often helps to encourage your baby’s cognitive development

Even if you’re not exactly addressing your baby, try commenting out loud on the tasks and activities that are going on in the room. For example, “Dad is picking up the laundry” or “Mom is going to fold the laundry now.” Talk to your baby to help them discover their surroundings and make sense of them little by little.

Play, auditory and visual stimulation, social interaction and, in short, a stimulating environment are the main things that deeply facilitate cognitive development during the first months of a baby’s life.

  • Piaget, J. (1988). Psicología evolutiva de Jean Piaget. Cuarta edición. Editorial Paidós Mexicana. México D.F.
  • Campo, L.A. (2009). Características del desarrollo cognitivo y del lenguaje en niños de edad preescolar. Psicogente. vol 12, n 22, pp. 341.351. Universidad Simón Bolívar. Colombia: Barranquilla.