How To Encourage Your Child’s Cognitive Development Through Games

Playing outside, exercising, or simply running around can help your children develop physically and stay…

mom child games

Playing outside, exercising, or simply running around can help your children develop physically and stay fit. But what about their mental or cognitive development? Sure, food and nutrition are important, and school will play a vital role in this, but do you know what else is important? Something that you have controls over since their birth.


Games do more than just body development. Many games also help develop the brain. It helps develop children’s ability to think, understand, remember, strategize, imagine and work out what might happen next. All while teaching them valuable skills and introducing them to social interactions, healthy competitions, patience, teamwork, fair play, and how to accept defeat.

Pretty important, right?

Today we’ll see how games can help sprout your child’s cognitive development.

Let’s get started.

Games That Help Children’s Cognitive Development

Different types of games have different kinds of benefits. The child’s age range also matters. Here we’ll cover the different types of games you can play with your baby in various stages of their life – and how these games will help their cognitive development.

Newborns (1-3 Months)

Newborn babies might see or follow an object but immediately forget it once it’s been removed or covered. So games that help babies track things are the most suitable for this age range.

1. Crib Mobiles

Crib mobiles help develop the tracking receptors of newborns. Hanging a mobile with simple patterns and sharp contrasts above a crib helps newborns build their vision and focus.

Giving them a toy to focus on encourages them to move in new ways – especially when they discover that the toy moves when they move their body. This introduces them to the idea of casualty.

2. Rattles

Another way to encourage hearing and eye movement are to hold a rattle or something that catches their attention in a bit of distance from their face and wait for them to focus on it. Then slowly move it around.

After the baby begins to follow it around, they might even try to catch it when it passes by — this can help develop hand-eye coordination.

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Infants (3-12 Months)

Children can understand movements that happen when they push or throw at this age. So games that have them use minimal activities like holding or throwing or require them to recognize and find items are optimal.

3. Hide And Seek

A game of peek-a-boo, a jack-in-the-box toy, or a hide-and-seek game with an object can help the child understand things aren’t always what they seem.

Like: when a baby plays hide-and-seek, they’re in the beginning stages of understanding an object might exist outside their vision.

4. Who’s That?

Showing babies photos or videos of family events or pictures of themselves help them recognize the faces of people. Show them photos of their recognizable faces as well – this also helps develop their memory.

5. Holdable Toys

Simple balls or toys of different colors are suitable for children. They can hold it, carry it, throw it – to see what happens. This allows for both the development of muscles and introduces them to the consequences of their actions.

Toddlers (1-3 Years)

Despite seeming pure entertainment, Pretend play has distinct connections to cognitive development. Kids in this range will try to know everything. They’ll believe that everyone knows what they’re thinking. They like to imagine a lot – but can’t distinguish fake from real.

6. Tea Parties / Playing Pretend

Playing with toy versions of real-life objects – using a telephone, cooking in a toy kitchen, eating fake foods, buying or selling with imaginary currencies, building a house, etc. – mimicking real-life activities.

All these might feel like just play-pretend, but these slowly introduce the toddler to real-world concepts and make it easier for them to adapt and accept them later.

7. Sing Songs And Tell Stories

Songs are great for developing children’s cognitive skills. You can integrate movement, numbers, and animal sounds into songs. Sing-along songs can both teach and enhance basic vocabulary.

Read storybooks together. Later on, you can leave out parts from your toddler’s favorite stories and ask them to tell you what happens next.

8. Puppet Plays

Putting puppet shows for your child or practicing imaginative play with a doll or stuffed animal is great for cognitive advancement. This lets the child imagine or play out what might happen next.

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Kids (3-6 Years)

At this age, it’s normal for children to begin asking questions, making jokes, understanding basic sizes and time, negotiating, and making friends at this age. They still might not differentiate between real and fake.

9. Puzzles

Helping develop children’s spatial abilities and problem-solving strategies. Jigsaw puzzles require children to understand where a piece fits – and where it doesn’t. It also shows them the satisfaction of completing something.

10. Mazes

Mazes are an exercise in memory and execution. These require children to strategize, use foresight, perceptually organize, plan, reason, and so on. All this will advance your kid’s cognitive skills.

And they will fail along the way too – ultimately, introducing them to defeat and fair play.

Kids (6-9 Years)

You can expect kids of this age to understand the concept of:

  • Personal belongings
  • Collecting and grouping things
  • Being able to tell time
  • Knowing left from right
  • Being fascinated by science experiments
  • Wanting to play fair
  • Knowing what permission means (no matter if they follow it or not)

11. Crossword Puzzles

Crosswords are superb for improving reasoning skills and command over vocabulary. Filling in letters to answer the question or following the instructions can be helpful in cognitive development.

Doing crossword puzzles regularly can also improve your child’s ability to focus attention on the desired task and improve their working memory. You can use the word unscrambler tool to help you quickly unscramble random letters into actual words to use in your game

12. Stroop Effect Games

Strop effect tasks involve reading a word written in a different color or saying the color of the ink and not the actual word. It requires focus and attention.

13. Basic Board Or Card Games

Basic board games are a good source of enjoyment and a good group game. Games like these help children interact with others and develop their social skills – while also teaching them teamwork, rules, fair play, and defeat.

Pre-Teens (9-12)

Puzzles and games requiring lots of thinking are excellent methods of fostering cognitive development in pre-teens.

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14. Rebus puzzles

These fun puzzles require your child to determine a common phrase or saying through hints, such as letters, words, pictures, or numbers. To solve these puzzles, your child has to deep think about everything he knows. They might even reach the answer without knowing what that means. This allows them to learn new words and phrases.

15. Sudoku

Sudoku is a game where the player completes a grid using numbers. This captivating game has many cognitive benefits. Symbol-based puzzles like sudoku have a significant effect on children’s logical thinking. It also requires attention to detail, adapting better to unforeseen events, and correcting their mistakes to get desired results.

16. Online Card Games

We’ve already talked about card games to play as groups, but online games are also handy in the internet age. Games like solitaire, klondike, fish, mahjong, and pyramid are famous examples.

These require your kid to stretch their brain muscles, develop strategies, improve memory and concentration. But it also calms their mind, gains some positive recreation, and gives them alone time – all while showing it’s possible to have fun alone. And if you want to get started immediately, then solitaire online is an excellent place for you.

17. Chess

Chess has been proven time and again to improve brain function. It’ll challenge your child’s memory, calculation skills, visual-spatial skills, strategic skills, and critical thinking abilities. You can participate yourself or have them play against a friend, teacher, or computer.

Closing Thoughts

You have control over what games your child plays, which means you control their cognitive development. The age ranges mentioned above aren’t absolute and can vary depending on your child.

Your child might show natural tendencies towards one of them while being slow on another. It’s your duty as parents to see where they’re offering the best development and work from there while keeping your child’s strengths and weaknesses in mind.

We hope our guide helped you understand how games can affect your baby’s cognitive development. If you have any questions or would like to recommend more games, feel free to contact us through a comment bel