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Cognitive Development, Ages 1 to 12 Months

Topic Overview

Cognitive development is the process by which the brain develops the abilities to learn and remember.

Cognitive development follows a typical pattern in the first 12 months of life.

  • Between 1 and 2 months of age, infants become interested in new objects and will turn their gaze toward them. They also gaze longer at more complex objects and seem to thrive on novelty, as though trying to learn as much about the world as possible.
  • At around 3 months of age, infants are able to anticipate coming events. For example, they may pull up their knees when placed on a changing table or smile with gleeful anticipation when put in a front pack for an outing.
  • At around 4 months, babies develop keener vision. Babies' brains now are able to combine what the babies see with what they taste, hear, and feel (sensory integration). Infants wiggle their fingers, feel their fingers move, and see their fingers move. This contributes to an infant's sense of being an individual.
  • Between 6 and 9 months of age, babies become adept at recognizing the appearance, sound, and touch of familiar people. Also, babies are able to recall the memory of a person, like a parent, or object when that person or object is not present. This cognitive skill is called object permanence.
  • Around 9 to 12 months of age, babies observe others' behavior. During this time, they also begin a discovery phase and become adept at searching drawers, cabinets, and other areas of interest. Your baby reveals more personality, becomes curious, and demonstrates varied emotions.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Louis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Last Revised October 7, 2011

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