Look who’s exploring! Cognitive and emotional development

Look who’s exploring! Cognitive and emotional development
When your baby discovers that loud cries make the milk come faster (more so than soft moaning), she’s already making links between different situations and, in this way, is trying her hand at problem solving.

When your baby discovers that loud cries make the milk come faster (more so than soft moaning), she’s already making links between different situations and, in this way, is trying her hand at problem solving. This is the first step in cognitive development: faced with a new problem, the child tries out a variety of tactics and comes to certain conclusions that will serve her the next time around. But cognitive and emotional development are also closely tied to another area: communication and language, which develop first through movements, facial expressions, cries, babbling and other sounds, and, eventually, words.

With time, all this progress will allow your child to interpret the world around her, reuse strategies and communicate her ideas. In just 1 year, your child will go from being a tiny newborn to an active toddler who will flaunt her independence by, for example, trying to eat alone by pointing to what she wants!

This cognitive and emotional development is closely tied to other types of learning, including sensory development in particular. “Babies use every sense to rapidly gain an increasingly complex understanding of the world around them,” explains Patrick Major.

100 billion neurons in waiting – A baby is born with certain reflexes, but the rest is learned and continuously added to a massive “experience database.” A newborn has 100 billion neurons waiting to be used! Each new experience or trial for baby contributes to strengthening certain neural links, until the brain has achieved the desired action.

Games to help your baby along

Your baby will enjoy…

Listening to you talk, but also hearing you repeat the sounds she makes when you talk to her. From 1 month old, your baby can recognize the source of a sound, and her senses are primed while you feed and talk to her. At around 2 months old, she’ll take part in your conversations by making sounds back to you.

Listening to you describe her environment and what you’re doing, whether at home or at the park. At around 3 months old, she already gets excited about familiar situations she’s come to expect, like feeding time or bath time. She also gets excited when you sing her a song naming her body parts, for example.

Looking at books, toys and objects with you. From 4 months old, your baby begins to be curious about new things and sensations.

Learning to associate names (objects, animals, etc.) and their sounds, through a book or a nursery rhyme (e.g.: “What sound does a bell make? Drrriinng! What sound does a snake make? Ssss...”). Your baby will love this game at 9 months old.

Playing peek-a-boo games, like seeing you appear from under a small towel. She’s just beginning to learn about the permanence of objects and people. Soon, she’ll uncover your hidden face with a burst of laughter. At around 9 or 10 months, she’ll also like looking in corners and boxes to find toys, pointing to what she wants with her finger, making hand gestures, and so on. Towards the age of 1, she’ll probably utter her very first words.

Doing activities with you: massages, baby gym, etc. These activities will allow her to explore her world and they will strengthen the bond between you (from 9 months old on).

Being in contact with older children. Babies enjoy watching “big kids” play and love it when they bring them a toy.

Around 4 weeks old, babies begin to truly smile in welcome. People who come up to them will be rewarded with one of their smiles! At around 6 months, however, their smiles become more specific and will be reserved exclusively for the people they like or recognize.
Remember
  • Moving, catching, sensory development, exploration: year one is full of new discoveries for your baby, who is developing and learning at an astonishing pace.
  • It’s normal to notice differences among children.
  • From birth, the time you spend interacting and playing with your baby will stimulate her and promote her development.