Cognitive Skills Checklist


Though children progress at different rates, the communication skills generally expected at a given age are listed bellow. Please contact us if you have concerns about your child’s communication.

Cognitive Skills at 2 months

  • Takes an interest in faces
  • Begins to follow things with eyes
  • May begin to recognize familiar people at a distance
  • May get fussy when activities don’t change

Cognitive Skills at 4 months

  • Lets you know she’s happy or sad
  • Responds to affection
  • Reaches for a toy with one hand
  • Uses hands and eyes together by reaching for things he sees
  • Follows moving things with eyes from side to side
  • Watches faces closely
  • Recognizes familiar people and things at a distance

Cognitive Skills at 6 months

  • Looks around at things nearby
  • Brings toys to mouth
  • Shows curiosity about things and tries to get things that are out of reach
  • Begins to pass things from one hand to the other

Cognitive Skills at 9 months

  • Watches the path of something as it falls
  • Looks for things he sees you hide
  • Plays peek-a-boo
  • Puts things in her mouth
  • Moves things smoothly from one hand to the other
  • Picks up small food items between thumb and index finger

Cognitive Skills at 12 months

  • Explores things in different ways, such as by shaking, banging, throwing
  • Finds hidden things easily
  • Looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named
  • Imitates gestures
  • Starts to use things correctly, such as a cup for drinking
  • Bangs two things together
  • Puts things in a container and takes them out
  • Lets go of toys intentionally
  • Pokes with index (pointer) finger
  • Follows simple directions like “pick up the toy”

Cognitive Skills at 18 months

  • Knows what ordinary things are for; for example, telephone, brush, spoon
  • Points to get the attention of others
  • Shows interest in a doll or stuffed animal by pretending to feed
  • Points to one body part
  • Scribbles on his own
  • Can follow 1-step verbal commands without any gestures; for example, sits when you say “sit down”

Cognitive Skills at 2 years

  • Finds things even when hidden under two or three covers
  • Begins to sort shapes and colors
  • Completes sentences and rhymes in familiar books
  • Plays simple make-believe games
  • Builds towers of 4 or more blocks
  • Might use one hand more than the other
  • Follows two-step instructions such as “Pick up your shoes and put them in the closet.”
  • Names items in a picture book such as a cat, bird, or dog

Cognitive Skills at 3 years

  • Can work toys with buttons, levers, and moving parts
  • Plays make-believe with dolls, animals, and people
  • Does puzzles with 3 or 4 pieces
  • Understands what “two” means
  • Copies a circle with pencil or crayon
  • Turns book pages one at a time
  • Builds towers of more than 6 blocks
  • Screws and unscrews jar lids or turns door handle

Cognitive Skills at 4 years

  • Names a few colors and numbers
  • Understands counting
  • Follows three part commands
  • Remembers parts of a story
  • Understands “same” and “different”
  • Starts to understand time
  • Predicts what is going to happen next in a book
  • Plays board games or card games
  • Often can’t tell what’s real and what’s make-believe

Cognitive Skills at 5 years

  • Knows name and address
  • Able to distinguish fantasy from reality
  • Counts 10 or more things
  • Knows about things used every day, like money and food