5.3 Cognitive Milestones

Children are actively learning about the world as they perceive it from the time they are in the womb. Here is a table of some of the cognitive milestones infants and toddlers typically develop.

Table 5.2: Cognitive Milestones215
Typical Age What Most Children Do by This Age
2 months Pays attention to faces
2 months Begins to follow things with eyes and recognize people at a distance
2 months Begins to act bored (cries, fussy) if activity doesn’t change
4 months Lets you know if she is happy or sad
4 months Responds to affection
4 months Reaches for toy with one hand
4 months Uses hands and eyes together, such as seeing a toy and reaching for it
4 months Follows moving things with eyes from side to side
4 months Watches faces closely
4 months Recognizes familiar people and things at a distance
6 months Looks around at things nearby
6 months Brings things to mouth
6 months Shows curiosity about things and tries to get things that are out of reach
6 months Begins to pass things from one hand to the other
9 months Watches the path of something as it falls
9 months Looks for things he sees you hide
9 months Plays peek-a-boo
9 months Puts things in mouth
9 months Moves things smoothly from one hand to the other
9 months Picks up things like cereal o’s between thumb and index finger
1 year Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing
1 year Finds hidden things easily
1 year Looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named
1 year Copies gestures
1 year Starts to use things correctly; for example, drinks from a cup, brushes hair
1 year Bangs two things together
1 year Puts things in a container, takes things out of a container
1 year Lets things go without help
1 year Pokes with index (pointer) finger
1 year Follows simple directions like “pick up the toy”
18 months Knows what ordinary things are for; for example, telephone, brush, spoon
18 months Points to get the attention of others
18 months Shows interest in a doll or stuffed animal by pretending to feed
18 months Points to one body part
18 months Scribbles on own
18 months Can follow 1-step verbal commands without any gestures; for example, sits when you say “sit down”
2 years Finds things even when hidden under two or three covers
2 years Begins to sort shapes and colors
2 years Completes sentences and rhymes in familiar books
2 years Plays simple make-believe games
2 years Builds towers of 4 or more blocks
2 years Might use one hand more than the other
2 years Follows two-step instructions such as “Pick up your shoes and put them in the closet.”
2 years Names items in a picture book such as a cat, bird, or dog

  1. Developmental Milestones by the CDC is in the public domain↩︎