Cognitive Infant and Toddler Activities

Your infant or toddler's cognitive development has to do with her understanding of the world around her and how she interprets and reacts to it 3. During the baby and toddler years, your little one makes great strides in cognition. You can encourage her development with fun activities at home. If you ever worry that your child isn't reaching her milestones, talk with her pediatrician.

Reading Books

Holding a book and pointing out the pictures to your baby or toddler is a fun and easy way to build her cognition, including her language acquisition and reproduction skills. As your child gets older, read books that have simple stories in them. Choose books with large, bright pictures that your little one can see well. You can also make your own book with pictures of your child doing everyday things, such as taking a bath, eating a meal or sleeping. Older toddlers might enjoy making their own book by drawing the pictures and telling you what words to write.

Open-Ended Toys

Open-ended toys are fun for a baby and toddler to play with, but they can be played with in many ways. This makes them ideal for children of many ages and builds the cognitive realms of creativity and imagination. Let your little one play with fabric scarves and blocks, suggests the National Center for the Education of Young Children. Interlocking building blocks, salt dough, stacking and nesting toys, and art supplies work well for older babies and toddlers.

Symbolic Play

Using his imagination helps your baby or toddler develop cognition in terms of understanding other people's emotions and how the world around him works. Let him play with a pretend kitchen and plastic food and dishes. He'll probably be cooking you up your favorite meals in no time. Let him play outside and he might create a sword from a stick and pretend to be a knight, or he might use his digging tools as he pretends to dig up dinosaurs. Symbolic play is an ideal way for your little one to build his representational thinking, notes the California Department of Education 1.


Puzzles are fun for babies and toddlers and are available in many age-appropriate forms. Look for chunky peg puzzles with large, bright pictures, which are easier for little ones to put back together without frustration. Large, colorful foam puzzles are another fun idea. Putting puzzles together builds spatial skills as your child matches a shape to its corresponding slot. Puzzles also promote problem-solving skills.