Do Toys help Cognitive Development

Do Toys help Cognitive Development

Toys can help with the development of babies ability to remember, process information and make decisions based on the information assimilated.

Kids of all ages benefit from toys. Toys help kids assimilate information, help with motor skills, perception, learning languages. It is amazing that kids can get so many benefits while having fun.

Can Toys help with Cognitive Development? Toys can help with Cognitive Development, helping them understand concepts such as grasping, dropping objects, cause and effect, languages, problem solving.

A child goes through 4 stages of development and each stage requires different toys and activities to develop Cognitive Development. Toys can be improvised and contrary to belief, expensive toys with flashy lights can harm your babies.

What is Cognitive Development?

Cognitive Development is how you gain understanding, process data gathered, reasoning abilities, memory, language development. Problem Solving, decision making are processes achieved via Cognitive development and can be enhanced using toys and playtime.

One very important concept I learned was that for a child, game and playtime is work. This brought a new perspective to games for our family.

Here are 5 things to enhance playtime for kids

  1. Have a separate space for the kid to play. I have lived in tiny one bedroom houses and in 3 bedroom houses. It doesn’t matter what space is available, allocate one spot,one table, one corner or room for kids play.
  2. Do not interrupt a child at play. Smaller babies need assistance in play, but the important thing is kids are learning to focus and concentrate. Interruptions, calling the child, talking animatedly will disrupt the attention. This is their office space and they need some quiet.
  3. Participate in play as much is needed only. Let kids express their creativity by allowing them some space. When alone, they can freely mimic sounds, activities, do role plays, color.
  4. Keep supervision to a minimum by keeping age appropriate toys around. Avoid keeping small objects, beads, colors, clay around. Such items should be used at supervised play time.
  5. Encourage a child to create a mess. Use plastic sheets, outdoor tables to create safe spaces to create mess.

Selecting a Toy to help with Cognitive Development

Kids are ready for different kinds of learning at different stages. While these toys which have been suggested below can help develop the skills, they are not a must if you are are on a budget or do not want to spend money on more toys.

Minimalists believe in buying less and have come up with some genius ways to use household items for cognitive development.

I have mentioned them below.

Infancy ( 0 to 12 months of Age)

Infancy is such a cute age and also tiring for parents. Babies can perceive colours, understand the concept of movement, identify variations in sound.

Newborm to 7 months

Babies below 7 months of age have not yet grasped many concepts and are not ready to understand special learnings.

Babies at this age learn with motor activities such as grasping, pinching and interacting with materials around them.

This the age to introduce boards and books with different textures and sounds. They will absolutely love them.

I cringe when I watch moms over stimulate their babies, anxious to help them learn. This results in over stimulation and baby usually gets cranky.

Babies do not require extra stimulation as sights, sounds and movement is already overstimulating them.

7 month babies

7 months old babies can understand object permanence. Up to this age you might have noticed that babies start crying if they do not see mom or dad.

That is because they do not understand that if they don’t see the parent, it does not mean that the parent isn’t around.

This is called ‘Object Permanence’, that is an object is still around, even though you cannot see it or touch it.

Babies can sit up, move around and are more independent. They can perceive new things and experiences which they never had the opportunity to before ( except stare at the ceiling).

This is the age which helps them develop intellectually, hence they can start leaning languages quickly.

Cognitive Development Activities and Toys for Infants

Babies can recognize faces, familiar sounds, anticipate events and can follow objects via their eyes.

There is already a lot of stimulation in a babies environment. At this age you can gently stimulate baby by the following activities.

Newborn to 6 Months of age

  • Smile and Talk to Baby
  • Caress Baby
  • Sing a Lullaby
  • Read to baby
  • At 4 months of age baby learn cause and effect, such as toys can shake, can be dropped.
  • Use rattles and colourful toys. Move toys around and baby will follow toys with their eyes .
  • Use different textures, let baby feel the different textures on their feet and hands.

6 to 12 Months

  • Newborns learn through observation. Introduce Cardboard picture books which help with identification.
  • Use a scarf to reveal toy to baby. Baby will always be surprised when they see the toy. They haven’t yet fully understood object permanence described above. Hence this is a fun activity for them and helps them understand the concept of object permanence.
  • Play Peek a Boo
  • Give baby a wooden spoon and bowl to bang
  • Read Books to babies. You can find books which relate to everyday life.
  • Use different textures

Cognitive Development Activities and Toys for Toddlers ( 12 to 36 Months )

  • Toddlers like to explore and discover new things
  • Toys should help them observe things, Question and solve problems
  • Puppets encourage imagination, abstract thinking and language skills
  • Blocks promote counting, sorting, problem-solving
  • Shape Sorting Toys help with relationships between objects
  • Simple Puzzles help understand the relationship between objects
  • By their first birthday babies use toys purposefully instead of just banging
  • Toddlers love to imitate adult actions, like phone, toy dishes, toy vacuums
  • This is the age when you can slowly start teaching the child to pick up toys and put in a box

Age 1

  • Understands more languages
  • read books to her
  • point familiar objects in the pictures
  • receptive laguage gas grown so baby will bring shoes
  • enjoys toys with knobs, wind up cranks, switches, buttons
  • pretend play
  • pushing toy across floor
  • bottle for doll
  • Modeling Dough
  • Crayons can be introduced

Age 2

  • Forms mental images of things
  • Toddlers to solve problems has developed
  • match and sort objects
  • peg puzzles
  • shape sorters
  • Pretend play is extended – ask questions about pretend play
  • Counting objects
  • interested in colours – red plate, blue shirt
  • Lego blocks

Toys for Preschool and School-Aged Children

Preschoolers are ready for more learning. My child went to a montessori playschool which encouraged and cultivated the love for letters, numbers, language

  • Alphabet puzzles can help them learn letters
  • My son loved the Bob book series, just looking at the pictures while I read them to him.
  • We made small notes with stock paper and tried to match pictures to alphabets.

Teach kids 10 to 15 minutes a day. They are ready for coloring, reading, numbers.

Types of Cognitive Skills Babies Learn from Toys & Activites

Cognitive Skills: Perception and Memory


Spend time with baby cuddling and talking to the baby. Use repetition as repetition helps babies learn quicker. Some activities and games to consider to help develop perception and memory.

  • Develop perception using Cause and effect – drop objects, hide objects
  • Babies become aware of the results of their actions. This helps to boost their confidence
  • Play patty-cake and peek-a-boo with an infant to encourage her ability to comprehend cause and effect.
  • Develop Memory skills with songs, books, games. They love
    Rhymes like Itsy Bitsy Spider

Cognitive Skills: Language

  • Explain what you are doing to the baby. Example, lets change the diaper, let’s wearthis yellow shirt. Don’t overdo this, it is a sensory overload. The baby can get used to over attention and the days you want to keep quiet, baby will get cranky.
  • Read picture books with everyday objects in them. My kids loved such books as they could relate to the objects in the books. This activity helps to strenghthen connections which inturn helps understanding and learning languages easier.

Cognitive Skills: Hand-Eye Coordination

This ability is needed to learn how to grasp objects and hold and lift things. To help develop these activities we can let babies do the following activities independently.

  • Dress independently – provide clothes which are easy to put on
  • Eat by themselves – this was an activity I had to learn and let go of my obstinance to feed the baby and get it over with.
  • Write with pencils
  • Ride a Cycle
  • This ability can be developed in infants. Use a rattle and move it across, so very slowly, ensuring that your baby is following itwith their eyes. This is the best way to increase focus and attention.

Cognitive Skills: Perception

  • Rattles help perceive sound
  • Textural perception by dragging rattle across cheek, down legs – familiar with touch, differentiates between touch and texture

Household Objects to assist in Cognitive Development

  • Sponge and cups – Fill cups with water squeezed out of sponge. Kids learn that objects sink. They anticipate this to happen,they learn to predict the outcome and understand the consequences of their actions.
  • My kids loved cardboard boxes which helped them imagine they were a house or a truck or a bus.
  • Wooden spoons and a vessl are great to learn sounds, cause and effect (if you can handle the noises).
  • Reuse plastic bottles, fill them with water, shells, pebbles, beads. Child can shake the bottle, listen to the sounds. Again this activity reinforces cause and effect.
Cognitive development guide to toys

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