Learning through nine months

Discover what's happening in your baby's beautiful little mind in their first 9 months.

Learning Stages

By Clement Chau, Ph.D.

LeapFrog Learning Expert

As the children and media expert on the Learning Team, Clement primarily works on toys and digital products related to social studies, creativity, life skills and early childhood development. Before joining LeapFrog, he was an early education consultant, a media literacy researcher at the MIT Comparative Media Studies department, a researcher at Children’s Hospital Boston, and a researcher and lecturer at the Tufts University Developmental Technologies Research Group. Clement received his PhD from Tufts University's Eliot Pearson Department of Child Development and completed his dissertation on evaluating children's mobile apps.

As any new parent knows, the first months of an infant’s life are full of changes! What's going on in their amazing development?

0-3 months

At birth, senses kick in to help newborns navigate a whole new world. They are extremely sensitive to their environment and have unique ways of responding to it. Not only do newborns absorb new information and learn from what they see, hear, touch and smell, they are also equipped at birth to respond to stimuli with a range of primitive reflexes. At this stage, newborns’ perceptual, motor and cognitive skills overlap. They learn primarily through their senses, usually focusing on how they physically interact with the environment, and often quite automatically.

3-6 months

At around 3 month of age, you might notice that your infant is staying awake for longer periods of time. Learning takes place continuously when the infant is awake. During awake time, interactions with caregivers are crucial to help establish a sense of trust and emotional attachment. These are foundations for healthy socio-emotional development that not only helps infants learn about themselves and others around them, but also nurture a sense of confidence. This confidence fosters further exploration and learning about everything they experience in their world. As young infants begin to have more intention in their exploration and observation of their surroundings, they need to feel safe while doing so.

6-9 months

Between 6 and 9 months of age, babies may begin to crawl or scoot around. Newfound mobility, however limited, gives babies access to new environments and experiences. Significant memory development takes place during this stage as babies move around and experience elements of space from different perspectives. Physically, their perception and motor development are maturing. They can now coordinate their hands, eyes and mouth to explore their own body, toys and surroundings. At this stage you might find your baby sitting up, putting toys and objects in his mouth. With more developed motor coordination, babies can also turn their head toward and locate voices and sounds. This event is particularly important for their learning and language development. As babies connect events with voices, they also start to figure out the meaning of certain sound strings. As they attend to different events and activities in the environment, babies are also observing and learning new action and reaction relationships—they are beginning to discover how things work. Imagine the possibilities!