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Boosting Cognitive Development in Toddlers (age 1-3)

Boosting Cognitive Development in Toddlers (age 1-3) Cognitive Development in Toddlers


Playful interactive stimulation is vital for cognitive development - a child's ability to think and reason. A child at play is constantly exploring, experimenting, thinking, learning, and solving problems. 

Watching your child begin to develop core concepts to navigate the world is a remarkable experience. As parents, we can encourage more of that cognitive development by spending time with our toddlers. By participating in a child's play time, parents are providing a safe and positive foundation that can give children the confidence they need to explore and learn about the world.


Toddlers are beginning to develop and learn key concepts. This might be obvious, but it's important for adults to understand and keep in mind when managing expectations during play. So, when it comes to cognitive development what is typical for a toddler?

- A toddler can imitate adult actions (playhouse, pretend to do laundry, etc.)

- A toddler can match objects with their uses.

- A toddler thinks you know what's going on in their mind.

- A toddler is unable to separate between what's real and what is pretend.

- A toddler is able to use trial-and-error to problem solve. This can help in puzzles!

- A toddler can respond to simple directions given by parents or caregivers (at around 18 months and beyond).

Understanding a toddler is important in understanding what they need. Toddlers are ready and able to explore. They love utilizing all five senses if possible and will thoroughly examine toys of interest. Get ready! They can now have favorite books and songs so they might need you to read it or sing it again.


Cognitive development is an important aspect of your child’s early childhood education. Here are some ideas for playtime that help strengthen crucial skills.

- Read books and put together puzzles! These activities can affect concentration positively, reinforce problem solving skills and provide a sense of accomplishment when completed. After the age of two you can leave out words and ask your toddler what happens next.

- Using bath toys is a great way to get your toddler splashing, measuring, and pouring. It's also a great opportunity to explain to your toddler why some things float, and others sink.

- Get outside and play with your toddler! Studies suggest that toddlers in stimulating environments, like the outdoors, can experience more growth in their verbal and perceptive abilities.

- Encourage arts and crafts. Creative activities give toddlers an opportunity to use their imagination and improve cognitive skills. If you don't have art materials on hand, pretend play is a fantastic alternative that utilizes memory and imagination.

- Sing songs! If you can try to incorporate animal noises and actions into the songs. Singing songs with your toddler can benefit the part of the brain associated with language. Singing is a powerful tool that improves verbal communication, listening skills and memory.

Toddlers learn best when they are interested. Let your child take the lead during play time and support their creativity. You can use your child's interest to introduce new ideas during play.

Gently ask questions and use suggestions to encourage your child's exploration and don't forget to reward progress with positive feedback.


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