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Ways to Stimulate Infant Curiosity for Cognitive Development

by Christina Schnell

Curiosity drives your baby's desire to learn about the world. Indications of curiosity vary as the infant matures, but many common baby behaviors, including staring, mouthing, dumping and grabbing. Supporting your infant's curiosity in a safe way not only helps her cognitive development, but also encourages a love of learning, explains the book "Early Childhood Education: Issues and Developments" by Dr. Petr G. Grotewell and Dr. Yanus R. Burton.

Diverse Environment

Your infant can't be curious about what she can't see or what she's already figured out. This is why the Zero to Three website recommends rotating your infant's toys and environment, to keep her curiosity fresh. You don't have to present her with five new toys every day, but changing her toys and setting, especially when her curiosity starts waning, encourages her to conquer new challenges and make new discoveries, which in turn helps with her cognitive development.

Follow Baby's Lead

Every infant is different, so pay attention to what your sparks your baby's interest. The Virginia Department of Education explains that staring and grabbing are two strong indicators of curiosity so stimulate his interest by allowing him to explore objects of interest in a safe way. If he stares at the remote control, purchase an identical one, but leave out the batteries, and let him push the buttons.

Build Confidence

It can be tempting to show your infant that a toy squeaks or that the pages of a soft book open and close. But, as Zero to Three explains, figuring out different ways to use toys and objects at her own pace gives her practice at using cognitive skills like problem solving. As she explores without interruption, suggestion or distraction she'll quickly learn that banging blocks together makes a clinking noise and that shaking a rattle makes a fun swish-swish sound.

Multi-Use Objects

Toys and materials that function in multiple ways encourage your infant to explore new ways of using things. A small set of plastic blocks, a pan of shallow water, a plastic container and a wooden spoon can be stacked on top of each other, knocked together to make sounds or knock over another object. As he recognizes that objects and materials have many uses, he'll develop a better understanding of how certain characteristics support specific actions, such as water being movable and wet, while a plastic block is rigid.

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