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Home > My Child > Ages and Stages > 12 to 18 Months > Intellectual Development

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Intellectual Development - Problem Solving: 12 to 18 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
  • Find an object by looking in one or two places – realize things exist when they are out of sight
  • Attempt to complete simple shape board puzzles
  • Learn by trial and error
  • Begin to solve simple problems
  • Pull a string to get a toy closer
  • Begin to understand functions of certain objects (such as a spoon or a cup)
  • Find out more about What to Expect from your baby, 12 to 18 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:
  • Look for favourite toys together
  • Child Will:
  • Enjoy spending time with you
  • Begin to understand that even if things are out of sight, they still exist
  • Share the pleasure in searching for a toy or object with you

  • Parents Can:
  • Provide comfort to their baby when she appears frustrated
  • Child Will:
  • Feel safe and secure knowing you are there to help
  • Learn to soothe herself when distressed
  • Be confident in your willingness and desire to solve the problem or eliminate the frustration for her

  • Play

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

    Parents Can:
  • Provide toys with wheels that can be pulled by a string. Encourage their baby to see what happens when the string is pulled
  • Child Will:
  • Enjoy his ability to pull toys where he wants to go
  • Begin to understand cause and effect – when the string is pulled the toy moves
  • Begin to think about how his actions can be used to make changes with objects

  • Parents Can:
  • Play hide-and-seek with objects by first placing a ball under one container and shuffling the other containers around
  • Hide objects that have a sound, such as a ticking alarm clock or small tape recorder
  • Child Will:
  • Begin to develop a sense of object permanence
  • Practice searching for hidden objects by remembering which was the first hiding place
  • Learn to find things by listening for the sound

  • Parents Can:
  • Provide any series of containers that can be nested one inside the other
  • Child Will:
  • Learn about the size and relationships among objects
  • Practice solving problems through trial and error experimentation
  • Begin to think about how her actions can influence what happens to objects

  • Teach

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

    Parents Can:
  • Together with their baby, sit down and attempt a simple puzzle with one or two large pieces
  • Child Will:
  • Enjoy playing with you
  • Begin to experiment with different shapes and sizes
  • Have the chance to use trial and error to solve a simple problem

  • Parents Can:
  • Cut a square hole in a shoebox cover or a circle in the lid of a yogurt container, and give their baby a square block or a small ball of yarn to insert in the "puzzle board"
  • Child Will:
  • Start to notice the differences between shapes
  • Start to match one or two shapes
  • Practice object permanence in another variation, as the block disappears into a container under a lid

  • Social Development: 12 to 18 months
    Emotional Development: 12 to 18 months
    Intellectual Development: 12 to 18 months
    Intellectual Development - Language: 12 to 18 months

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