13 Powerful Cognitive Development Activities For 6 Month Old To 3 Year Old Babies

In the previous article, the physical development and appropriate practices related to cognitive development for infants up to 6 months old were discussed. In this article, let us look further ahead and understand the 13 powerful cognitive development activities for 6 month old babies leading up to 3 years.

Note: In total, there are 35 cognitive development activities for 6 month olds, going up to 3 year olds.

In this article:

  1. Understand the concept of cognitive development and appropriate practices for 6 months to 3 years.
  2. Gain knowledge of cognitive development related applicable practices involved for 6 months to 3 years.
  3. Apply the knowledge gained to real life situations.

Cognitive Developmental Milestones in 6 to 12 Month Old Babies

It is never easy task to understand the workings of a child’s mind and for that matter, even an adult. It’s never easy to understand the thought process of a child. Researchers have been able to understand the working of a child’s cognition by coming up with a lot of creative tasks.

With more freedom in mobility by this stage, learning by exploring is a major task the child will be involved in and hence their sense of perception imagination is becoming more and more complex.

By this stage, a child can understand the difference between living and non-living things. This is where the Swiss Psychologist Jean Piaget explains the concept of Animism, which simply put, is imagining that non-living things have life.

Let us look at other cognitive developmental milestones in 6 to 12 month old babies.

  • Can identify pictures, can perceive quantity, concept of shape, colour, size, texture are all developing
  • Judge the distance between the child and an object
  • Object permanence is achieved (but individual differences has to be taken into consideration)
  • Can imitate few basic actions
  • Can respond with gestures and sounds
  • Can manipulate objects

13 Cognitive Development Activities for 6 Month Old Babies

  • Story telling with the help of puppets, role play, block play and puzzles increases imagination, creativity
  • Have big single alphabets on single cards, which is textured
  • Tracing over the alphabets helps the child understand better as their perception through their senses is at their peak at this stage
  • Calling out to the child from a distance or keeping objects at a distance and calling out to the child to reach for it.
  • Cause and effect games
  • Dump toys and allow it to explore them
  • Partially hide the toys and ask the child to find them, as children by this age can make mental representations of how the partially covered object will look as a whole
  • Taking the child to parks and small trips
  • Practice shapes and colours

At this age, a child can identify up to one or two colours. Sometimes, children take a longer while to understand colours. Practicing the same everyday will fasten up their ability to identify colours.

Also Read | 27 Developmentally Appropriate Activities for Infants

Cognitive Development Milestones from 1 to 2 Years

Along with cognitive development the other development areas are also equally progressing and hence will have an all-round impact on the areas of development with the right kind of practices.

Children are always at play and spend a lot of time observing adults around them and imitating them. Therefore this is a very good space where good behaviours can be inculcated in the child.

Some prominent development scenarios are:

  • Able to understand and respond to language
  • Identify similar objects similar colours
  • Me and you concepts are very clear
  • Adult expressions and actions are well imitated
  • Can identify and relate to real objects to objects displayed in a picture
  • Classification, seriation (arrange in an orderly sequence), differentiation are other skills evolving
  • Enjoys hands-on experiences

12 Cognitive Development Activities for 1 to 2 Year Olds

  • Teach about body parts
  • Talk more and use rhymes and songs to introduce concepts
  • Books and educational toys must be constant companions
  • Help the child learn to identify colours, shapes and sizes everyday
  • Point out to the child’s dress and help the child identify colour
  • Introduce concept of matching colours, animals, vegetables, fruits, etc.
  • Encourage independence and decision making in the child by asking the child to choose their own dress
  • Respect the child as an individual and provide choices that the child would like to play
  • Give a lot of scribble time, colouring time, messy play, clay modelling and sand play
  • Walk in nature as it can provide the best learning experiences
  • Allow the child to get dirty while playing
  • Give tasks like cleaning the toys and make it fun by singing sing-along songs while doing it

Also Read | 20 Developmentally Appropriate Activities for Toddlers

Cognitive Development Milestones from 2 to 3 Year Olds

At this stage, children are becoming more and more independent. They are able to explore the surroundings around them better. Language is also developing fast, which gives scope for better learning. Children learn by trial-and-error method. For instance, they can:

  • Categorise objects
  • Stack blocks and rings though not in an orderly way
  • Imitate more of complex adult actions through pretend-play like cooking, cleaning or helping around
  • Identify their own reflection in the mirror
  • Understand few (not too many) simple directions to “pick up the doll” or “wear the cap
  • Name objects and match them

10 Cognitive Development Activities for 2 to 3 Year Olds

The following are some of the cognitive development activities for 2 to 3 year olds:

  • Simple 4-piece puzzles and board games can be introduced
  • Encourage the child to ask questions by arousing their curiosity
  • Make small noticeable changes in the child’s surroundings which will enable the child to question the changes
  • Role-plays can be organised every day in school which can be team-based
  • Planting activity
  • Nature science experiments like fire needs oxygen to burn
  • Cause-and-effect activities
  • Problem solving act
  • Creative thinking and critical thinking games and activities
  • Introduce math through quantity, shapes, size

Note: The adult caregiver will have to consider individual differences of each child while planning activities. Lot of patience is required on the part of the adult, be it the parent, early childhood educator or the caregiver, and must never hurry a child to complete a task or activity.

Allow the child to repeat and make mistakes and learn from them adequate nutrition. Healthy lifestyle is an important factor. Never compromise on the sleep pattern of the child. Equally important is to not force a sleepy child to be awake.


The cognitive development activities for 6 month old babies leading all the way up to 3 year olds discussed above can be adopted to both school and home atmosphere. The creativity of the caregiver plays an important role in planning developmentally appropriate practices.

Both cognitive and physical development plays a crucial role in a child’s life and it works hand-in-hand. Importance has to therefore be given to both equally, along with other areas of development.

Also Read | 4 Best Play Activities to Promote Holistic Development and Learning

Disclaimer: The content in this page and across this website are for informational and educational purposes only. In case of any concerns about your child’s growth and development, please contact your professional child healthcare provider.