Baby Development Skill: Problem Solving

What are problem solving skills?

Problem solving skills allow your baby to recognise a need and work out a way to fix it.

Your baby begins problem solving as soon as they are born. Crying is a baby’s way of trying to solve the problems of hunger, dirty nappies, or pain. They soon learn that a parent will come to fix the problem at the sound of crying.

How can you help your baby develop problem solving skills?

Childproof rooms so that baby isn’t confined to a pram or playpen. Exploring their environment will allow baby to discover and learn.

Allow your child to move around their environment as much as possible. A baby will learn that if she wants a toy on the other side of the room, she will need to crawl over to it.

Give your baby rattles and toys that make noises. Your baby will soon learnt she needs to shake the rattle to hear the sound.

As your baby gets older, she will learn basic problem solving skills such as how to push one toy out of the way in order to reach another.

Try giving your baby three toys. If she has one toy in each hand and wants to pick up another, she will have to put one down to pick up the other toy. These are basic problem solving skills.

Model problem solving for your baby. If a toy is inside the box, show your baby how to lift the lid off the  box to retrieve the toy, then put the toy back and the lid on and encourage your baby to try.

By allowing your baby to play with lots of different shapes, textures, and sizes of toys your baby will explore and discover by putting them in her mouth, turning them over, fitting them one way and then another. She’ll gradually learn to remember her solutions, and will be able to build on these to be able to solve more complex problems.



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Baby Development Skills: Mathematical

What are Mathematical Skills?

These are skills that lead to mathematical thinking, for example, about colour, size and shapes; about classifying and balance; and about numbers and counting; symmetry and balance.

How can you help your baby develop mathematical skills?

For very young children, developing mathematical skills can be as simple as singing songs with numbers, such as Five Little Ducks, or No More Monkeys Jumping On the Bed, or the PlaySchool classic Roll Over, Roll Over. Use your fingers to show baby how the number of monkeys reduces every time one of them bumps his head!

Use numbers while you’re chatting to baby about everyday objects, “Look, there are three birds in the sky,” or “Mummy has two apples, one for you and one for me.” These are very simple mathematical principles.

As baby learns to walk, you can count steps with her.

Count objects at the supermarket, one banana, two bananas, etc., or the number of trees in your garden.

Start teaching baby to count. Although she won’t have any idea of the concept to begin with, you can teach baby the numbers by singing or chanting them with her.

Sort objects around the house. Your toddler can help match socks, for example. Be sure not to overwhelm her by giving her too many at a time, and gradually increase as she becomes more proficient.

Read stories together and classify objects in the story. Which is the biggest billy goat? Which is the smallest tree?

Play shape games with blocks and puzzles. Teach your baby the names of the shapes, then once she has started to pick them up, find shapes around the house. The TV is a rectangle, the plate is a circle, etc.

Mix and match patterns with household objects. It could be different coloured pegs, that you lay red, white, blue, red, white, blue. Then ask your toddler to continue the pattern.

Begin teaching number recognition, with flashcards or magnets, or a jigsaw puzzle. As your toddler becomes more proficient, practice number recognition while you’re out in the car or at the supermarket.

Play Snap with Uno cards. These are ideal, as the numbers are large, and children love the snapping and shouting of snap, and don’t realise that they’re learning numbers as they simply want to play.

When your toddler is recognizing numbers, why not try games like dot to dot? This is great practice for sequential numbering.

Older children can help with measuring ingredients while you are cooking.

Mathematical concepts are all around us. Involving children with everyday activities and explaining to them what you are doing will give them a head start on grasping mathematical concepts.

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Baby Development Skills: Musical Skills

Music can help the development of lots of vital skills, including auditory, cause and effect, social skills and concentration.

Children can get a huge amount of pleasure from learning a musical instrument, or even just listening to music.

Learning a musical instrument also helps develop both fine and gross motor skills.

How can you encourage your child to learn through music?


Newborn babies can be soothed by the sound of your voice singing, or by playing soft music in their nursery.

Three to Six Months:

Providing baby with musical toys will help them to understand cause and effect. If they shake the rattle, they’ll hear a sound.

A rattle will help with their hand eye co-ordination (baby needs to be able to grasp the rattle), as well as their gross motor skills (arm movements to shake the rattle).

Music and singing can help baby with auditory skills. A song about clapping hands will teach baby that when she hears the words, she needs to clap her hands.

Six to Twelve Months:

Have music on the in background, rather than television.

Put music on and dance with your baby in your arms.

Provide your child with noisy toys that they can make sounds and music on.

Twelve to Twenty Four Months:

Allow your child to make music on a toy xylophone, or a drum.

Teach your baby songs that you can sing together. Songs with actions are great, as they help keep your toddler engaged.

As your baby learns to walk, put some music on and clap hands, do the twist and do some twirls along to the music.

Two to Three Years:

Sing active songs together, such as “Heads and Shoulders, Knees and Toes”, or “Five Little Ducks”.

Play different kinds of music to your children, such as jazz, classical, opera and rock, as well as dedicated children’s music.

Older Toddlers:

Children can begin formal training on an instrument when they’re three. Before this, just let them play music for fun.

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Baby Development Skills: Creativity

Play helps children develop their creativity and imaginative skills, such as role play. Creative play provides opportunities for children to try out new ideas, as well as new ways of thinking and problem solving.

How can you encourage your child’s creativity and imagination?

Ensure that your children are involved in activities where they are actively engaged. TV is a passive activity, drawing or building blocks is active.

Reading books with children will help them to visualize places and things they have never seen before.

Ask your child lots of questions about what they can see in the pictures, “What do you think the cow is doing?” “Where is the frog going?” “What is going to happen next?”

Encourage your child to think about the world around them. Ask them questions about what they can see from the car window, or as you are walking in the park.

Ensure that your child has lots of materials they can create with – pencils, crayons, paper, scissors and glue, paints, playdough.

Encourage your child to make up stories about their toys. “What is teddy doing?”

Let your child play with household objects and allow them to pretend to do things that you do – mix the cake in the bowl, or pour tea into the cup.

Provide plenty of opportunities for your child to learn and explore their environment, and to talk about what they think is going on, and watch their imaginations flourish!

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Baby Development Skills: Auditory Skills

What are auditory skills?

Auditory skills are hearing, one of the traditional five senses.  The ability to hear affects many other skills, including speaking, listening, learning and thinking.  Hearing skills have a direct effect on how children will learn other skills.

How can you help baby develop auditory skills?

Newborn to Three Months:

Babies will jump or startle at loud noises. Use your voice to soothe and comfort your baby.

Introduce rattles and toys with noises so that baby can learn to follow the sound.

Talk to your baby. It doesn’t matter what you talk about, baby will enjoy the sound of your voice.

Three to Six Months:

Sing songs to your baby. You don’t have to sing lullabies, sing whatever you like. Repeat songs often.

Try giving baby simple musical toys like maracas that she can shake and produce a sound.

Repeat baby’s sounds back to her – ba ba’s and ooh’s and ah’s are all part of her finding her voice and processing the sounds she makes.

Six to Twelve Months:

Call baby’s name to encourage her to respond to her name.

Introduce toys with different sounds – musical toys are excellent for this.

Teach her how to make noises by clapping, or banging her hands on the highchair or table.

Tell her what sounds she can hear. “Oh, there’s the telephone ringing.” Or “the dog is barking.”

Twelve to Eighteen Months:

Baby will start to repeat words. Point out objects and tell her what they are, “That’s the banana.” “Here’s Daddy.”

Sing baby lots of simple songs and nursery rhymes.

Play music often, so that baby becomes familiar with different music.

Play lots of word games and peek a boo, pat a cake and physical games with songs.

Eighteen Months to Two Years:

Encourage your toddler to point to parts of her body when you ask her to.

Repeat the names of objects so that she can process them and learn how to say them for herself.

Give your toddler saucepan lids and other safe objects to bang and make lots of noise with.

Two to Three Years:

Do lots of singing and dancing with your toddler.

Encourage your toddler to make animal noises. “What does the cow say?”

Play musical games with your toddler, and provide her with lots of toys that make different sounds.

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Baby Development Skills: Visual Cognition

What is visual cognition?

Visual cognition is the ability to interpret information through vision, for example object and face recognition and colour recognition.

Simply put, it’s the ability to see something and to recognise and identify the object. This can include working out sizes, colours, shapes and spatial relationships (whether something is close or far).

How can you help baby develop visual cognition skills?

Newborn to Four Months:

Encourage baby to look at your face, by making sounds and movements with your face. Keep your face within about 30cms of baby’s face to help them to focus.

Try black and white images – the high contrast helps baby to focus and distinguish shapes.

Use toys like rattles to get your baby’s attention, and move the rattle around to encourage baby to track the object with her eyes.

You could use a mobile above baby’s change mat, or a baby gym on the floor. Don’t use a baby mobile above baby’s cot, as it’s important to keep visual stimulation to a minimum so that baby can learn to put themselves to sleep without distractions.

Place a baby safe mirror near baby to encourage self recognition.

Always ensure that baby wears a hat and isn’t exposed to bright sunlight to protect their developing eyes.

Five to Six Months:

Play peek a boo with baby.

Let baby have exposure to lots of shapes and textures, as well as bright colours and patterns.

Encourage baby to track objects with her eyes and head as you move them from side to side, up and down.

Six to Twelve Months:

Read to baby, and let her follow the pictures in the books. Point out objects in the stories to her – “here’s the dog, and look! What is the cat doing?”

Encourage baby to put objects into containers.

Point out objects for baby to reach for.

Play hide and seek games with toys – put teddy under a blanket and encourage baby to find it.

Give baby toys to stack, and start talking about different colours.

Twelve to Eighteen Months:

Encourage baby to point to things.

Show baby objects in the sky, such as planes and birds, to develop long distance vision.

Play games with baby where you encourage her to get a particular object out of a pile of objects. For example, where’s the ball in amongst soft toys.

Give toddlers a crayon and encourage them scribble.

Let her stack objects or containers.

Roll a ball back and forth on the floor to encourage visual tracking.

Eighteen Months to Two Years:

Show baby photos of herself and ask her who it is.

Encourage her to match simple shapes.

Find particular pictures in books.

Find some simple puzzles (ones with chunky knobs are great for little hands).

Two to Three Years:

Encourage your toddler to point out objects in  books.

Show your toddler family photos and allow them to pick out familiar family members.

Encourage your toddler to match large and small objects.

Encourage your child to string chunky beads together on a shoelace or string.

Do lots of drawing, painting and colouring.

Go to the playground as often as you can.

Play catch with a ball, a soft toy, or even rolled up socks!

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