From birth, children are developing skills that will help them understand and respond to their environment. Children make cognitive, physical and creative developmental progress mostly through play.

Cognitive development is characterized by the way a child learns, interacts with the surrounding environment and acquires knowledge. As a parent, there are several ways in which you can encourage cognitive development in your child.

Toddlers are sensory learners who love to touch, smell and taste to better understand the world in which they live. It is important that toddlers practice cognitive and independence skills. River Valley Pediatrics, your pediatrician in New Braunfels, offers ways in which you can promote your child’s cognitive and independence skills.

Playing in the Sand

A sandbox is a very popular place for children to play. To the common eye, it’s just children playing in the sand, but there are many types of learning and skill-building going on.

Children learn through play and playing with sand is no different. In the sandbox, children are able to work their finger muscle strength and control, especially when they are digging in the sand.

Play Dough

Play dough has immense potential for learning. Your child develops fine motor skills as they strengthen their fingers squishing it. Playing with play dough also develops hand-eye coordination and spurs creativity.

New Textures

Sit with your child and have them create artwork using different textures. Get a piece of poster paper and have your child glue pasta, pipe cleaners, dry beans and cotton balls on it. Write your name in big letters on another piece of poster paper and have them fill the letters in with different textured objects.

Simon Says

Have your child follow your directions by playing a game of Simon Says. When your child gets comfortable playing the game, have them take the lead as Simon.


Studies have long shown that dance promotes cognitive function. Learning the art of dance helps young children develop knowledge, skills and a better understanding of the world. Through dance, children also learn sensory awareness, cognition and consciousness.

Introduce your child to new rhythms, tempos and sounds. The best way to do this is by listening to a variety of music from different genres. Start off with a soft and slow song to dance to, then switch to a catchy country-western tune and finish up jamming out to a rock ballad.

Follow the Leader

Toddlers love to imitate others. Start off with something easy like clapping your hands or bouncing like a bunny. After some time, let your toddler take over and be the leader.

Scavenger Hunts

Let your child pick one of their favorite colors and then encourage them to find that color all around the house. If they pick red, help them find the red pillow on the couch, the red painting on the wall and the red vase on the shelf. Then pick another color and play the game all over again.

Field Trips

You can take your child on field trips to interesting places like barbershops, the library, the museum and the farmer’s market. These are places where your child can enjoy some hands-on experiences. Ask your child about the places you visit and listen to their responses and reactions.

Everyday Items

Playing with the things you have around the house can be fun, educational and cost-effective. That’s right, there is no need to spend money to have your child build cognitive skills. You can buy your child an expensive toy to play with, but they might be quite content playing with the box it came in.

There are numerous objects around the house that can be learning toys for your child. A few things that will pique your child’s interest include masking tape, laundry baskets, flashlights, mixing bowls and the handheld mirror.

Plenty of Games

Play a variety of games with your child to encourage creativity and problem-solving. Younger children are quite content playing peek-a-boo with mom or dad and they like playing with building blocks. As your child gets older, you can have them play with puzzles and board games.

As parents, we understand how stressful having a sick child can be and how important it is to have a doctor that you can rely on no matter how hard things get. If your child is sick, give River Valley Pediatrics a call.