How to stimulate your baby’s cognitive development in the first year

The first year of your child’s life is an exciting time. Not only are you both getting to know each other, but your baby is developing at lightning speed.

In the first twelve months of life, your child is developing socially, emotionally, and cognitively.

It may feel overwhelming to present your baby with the right things to help stimulate their development, but there are lots of activities you can choose from to support your little one on their first-year journey.

Talk to your baby

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Speaking to your baby helps their brain form the necessary connections to learn, process, and understand language. According to WebMD, the best way to talk to your baby might be through high-pitched, sing-songy baby talk because babies tend to pay more attention and be more responsive to that way of speaking as opposed to regular adult conversation. 

Get musical

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A study out of the University of Washington found that exposing 9-month-olds to a series of play sessions involving music helped develop their ability to detect patterns in sound and speech. The Mayo Clinic suggests singing or playing lullabies for your child as a way to introduce them to music. 

Play repetitive games

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Repetitive games like “peek-a-boo” and “this little piggy” help infants develop the ability to predict things that are about to happen. Studies show that peek-a-boo also helps developing babies learn about object permanence which aids in memory development as well.

Introduce simple toys

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Nemours recommends introducing toys that appeal to the senses of sight, hearing and touch like rattles, unbreakable crib mirrors, and textured or musical toys in the first few weeks. These types of playthings—especially ones with contrasting colors and patterns—help stimulate your baby’s developing vision, which ultimately helps them better manage their movement, allowing them to interact more with their surroundings. 

Read to your baby

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Reading encourages a baby’s speech and thought development, according to the Mayo Clinic. Reading aloud allows your little one to absorb the words and gives them an opportunity to mimic the sounds of the words as well. Books with big, bright pictures are especially helpful because while you’re reading, you can point to the pictures as a visual reference.

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