It takes a little time for your baby to learn the effect he has on the world but by 6 weeks old the first evidence of this awareness emerges as your baby learns to smile in response to your smile. Within the next two months, your baby will learn that his voice can also elicit a reaction. As your baby learns this, he will start to yell to hear your voice respond or cry to have you return to the room. This is evidence that your baby is learning about cause and effect.

In the second six months of the first year, your baby will start to use this newfound skill to play. Playing to see an effect is a critical cognitive skill and here are some activities (and their benefits) to help you be prepared-ish to develop your baby’s mind and cognition:

  1. Picking up dropped toys – As frustrating as it is to continually have to pick up toys that your 7 month old drops from the highchair, this fun game will not only elicit great giggles but it will also teach your baby that when he does something there will be a response – i.e. when he drops a toy from the highchair, you will react and then pick it up for him.
  2. Turning off and on the light – Another fun game to teach cause and effect is to stop at the light switch in a darkened room and let your baby switch it on and off. This creates a very obvious response with very little effort.
  3. Build a tower and knock it down – Give your baby blocks or stacking cups and show him how to stack them so that he can then knock them down. When your baby is little, you will need to make the tower for him and show him how to knock it down. Later he will make the tower himself and then knock it down.
  4. Peek a boo – A cause and effect game that will enhance memory is peek-a-boo. Start very basically by placing an object, such as your baby’s dummy, under a blanket and show him how to lift the blanket to find the toy. Later, you can advance this skill by placing two upturned cups on the table and place the dummy under one of the cups. See if your little one can work out which one the dummy is under.
  5. Switch toys – As your baby gets older, he will love to play with switch toys – these electric or mechanical toys have switches that when pushed elicit a noise or a fun reaction like a jack in the box popping up. Your baby will learn which switch does what and be more calculated to elicit the response he wants to see.

Be Prepared-ish with Babies R Us and their toy range: