Cognitive Development Milestones for Children 0-3 Years

During the first few years of your child’s life, they’ll grow and develop immensely. Keeping your eye out for significant milestones is key so you can know if they’re progressing at a positive rate. We’ll discuss the key cognitive development milestones for children between the ages of 0 and 3 years so you’ll know how to support them best.

A Guide To Cognitive Development Milestones

While every child develops at their own pace, there are certain cognitive development milestones they should accomplish in a timely manner. If you’re worried that your child isn’t meeting milestones – don’t fret. Early intervention could be a fantastic option to get them on the right track. 

What Are Cognitive Development Milestones?

Cognitive development milestones are a set of benchmarks that represent important steps forward in a child’s life. These milestones reflect how a child’s brain develops and include thinking, learning, exploring, and problem-solving skills. When your child accomplishes a milestone within a timely manner, it’s an adequate indicator that they’re progressing and developing at a good pace.
Here are cognitive development milestones for children from birth to age three you can keep your eyes out for:

Birth to 3 Months

During this stage of life, an infant should be able to:
  • Demonstrate anticipatory behaviors (ex. rooting and sucking at the site of a bottle or nipple)
  • Detect differences in sound, pitch, and volume
  • Recognize objects that are within a distance of 13 inches
  • Focus on moving objects
  • Focus on the movements of someone’s face
  • See all the colors within the human visual spectrum
  • Use facial expressions and respond to their environment
  • Identify the difference between tastes of sweet, salty, bitter, and sour

3-6 Months

During this stage of life, an infant should be able to:
  • Replicate facial expressions
  • React to familiar sounds in their environment
  • Recognize familiar faces
  • Respond to other people’s facial expressions

6-9 Months

During this stage of life, an infant should be able to:
  • Differentiate between pictures of different numbers of objects
  • Understand the difference between animate and inanimate objects
  • Determine how far away an object is by utilizing its relative size

9-12 Months

During this stage of life, an infant should be able to:
  • Enjoy themselves while looking at picture books
  • Imitate basic actions and gestures
  • Manipulate objects (ex. turning them over, putting one object into another, etc.)
  • Respond to interactions with sounds and gestures
  • Understand the concept of object permanence

1-2 Years

During this stage of life, most children over one year of age should be able to:
  • Identify similar objects
  • Imitate adults’ actions and language
  • Learn through exploration
  • Point out familiar objects and people
  • Understand words and have some sort of response to them
  • Follow commands and simple directions

2-3 Years

During this stage of life, most children over two years of age should be able to:
  • Identify their own reflection in a mirror
  • Imitate complex adult actions they see on a daily basis (cleaning, playing house, doing laundry, taking care of pets, etc.)
  • Name objects from a picture book
  • Sort objects into categories (ex. animals, flowers, food, etc.)

Learn More About Early Intervention Services in South Carolina

Are you worried your child isn’t meeting these cognitive developmental milestones on time? We’re here to help. Early intervention can help your child get on track and give you the peace of mind you’re looking for.
About Play is one of South Carolina’s leading early intervention providers, and we’d be honored to assist you and your family. Contact us today with any questions, comments, or concerns about early intervention services.

If you live in South Carolina and think your infant or child is experiencing developmental delays, we can help.

where do we offer early intervention services?

Our services are available for babies, toddlers, and their families in almost every county in South Carolina.

Click on your county to see the early interventionists available.