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Home > My Child > Ages and Stages > Birth to 6 Months > Intellectual Development

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Intellectual Development: Birth to 6 months

Intellectual Development means being able to communicate, to think both creatively and abstractly, to pay attention, solve problems, and develop keen judgment and a lifelong readiness to learn.

Emerging Skills
  • Follow a moving object with their eyes - initially to midline, with time, from side to side, up and down and in a circle
  • Show a preference for gazing at faces
  • Explore hands and objects by mouthing
  • Bat at and reach for toys
  • Recognize familiar voices and brighten to their sound
  • Recognize familiar surroundings and objects
  • Show early understanding of cause and effect relationship (for example, banging objects to make noise)
  • Find out more about What to Expect from your baby, birth to six months.


    Through the comfort and responsiveness of an adult, babies will learn how to handle their emotions and how to seek help when needed.

    Parents Can:
  • Use caregiving routines, such as diapering or changing, to talk to their baby about what is being done and what he is seeing, feeling and hearing
  • Child Will:
  • Enjoy listening to your voice and looking at your face
  • Begin to recognize facial expressions
  • Learn to anticipate certain routines

  • Parents Can:
  • Call their baby's name when she is not looking
  • Child Will:
  • Learn to locate sounds
  • Learn to respond to her name
  • Begin to develop early stages of a self-concept

  • Play

    Through opportunities for play, babies will experience joyful, free, spontaneous moments of fun while learning about themselves and others.

    Parents Can:
  • Hang mobiles and objects that make noise
  • Child Will:
  • Watch the objects as they move
  • Accidentally hit the mobile, and discover the movement and sounds that are made in reaction
  • Begin to reach on purpose to make the movement and sounds happen

  • Parents Can:
  • Provide objects of different textures for their baby to explore
  • Child Will:
  • Experience different sensations of soft, rough, squishy, hard, bumpy and scratchy
  • Eventually learn to distinguish among different textures
  • Practice looking, reaching and touching objects (eye-hand coordination)

  • Parents Can:
  • Play social games, such as "peek-a-boo" or "Momma's coming to get you"
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to develop his memory for people and objects
  • Learn to anticipate cause and effect, for example, tickling games and physical enjoyment

  • Teach

    Through routines and emotionally and physically safe and secure environments, babies can learn how to think, solve problems and communicate.

    Parents Can:
  • Sing short rhymes and play finger games
  • Child Will:
  • Watch and listen to the words and actions he is experiencing
  • Learn to recognize certain gestures/words and anticipate actions that follow

  • Parents Can:
  • Play with their baby in front of mirrors
  • Child Will:
  • Learn to recognize her reflection in the mirror
  • Begin to understand that she is a separate being from her caregivers

  • Parents Can:
  • Create safe play spaces with pillows and favourite toys
  • Child Will:
  • Learn what objects do by manipulating, banging and throwing them
  • Want to explore the environment if a caregiver is near, supportive and responsive to cues

  • Social Development: Birth to 6 months
    Emotional Development: Birth to 6 months
    Intellectual Development - Language: Birth to 6 months

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