Cognitive development in a newborn starts right from birth and continues for at least two years during which the baby picks up different skills and habits.
In the first three months, high-pitched noises and familiar voices attract the baby. Simple gestures like a wave of a hand or a show of a tongue can also catch his attention. At this stage, he is also unable to recall faces very often. So he may not even understand that you are the same person every time you are with him. Strangers are not frightening and your baby welcomes cuddles from anyone.
Breaking up the first three months, shows some generic milestones that babies can achieve.
Birth to one month:
- Makes gurgling sounds when he is content
- Smiles occasionally in his sleep
- Calms down when you pick him up and when you speak in a slow, rhythmic, gentle voice.
- Begins to learn how to calm himself down, (say, by sucking on his own hands).
- Smiles on purpose (at parents, caregivers, siblings, etc.).
- Attempts to mimic your facial expressions
- Attempts to lift his head when lying on his stomach
- Begins to open his hands when at rest
- Follows you with his eyes as you walk across the room
- Wriggles and squirms on your lap or in their crib
- Raises his hands to his mouth or eyes
- Is startled by sudden movements or noises
- Attempts to reach up to touch dangling objects (say, a mobile over the crib).
- Becomes fussy or starts crying if his is feeling bored or not sufficiently stimulated
Two to four months:
- Loses most of the bobble in his head, as his neck muscles become stronger
- Swipes at dangling objects with his hands
- Randomly opens and shuts his hands
- Imitates your facial expressions, or even your gestures
- Starts developing hand-eye coordination
- Is able to sit straight when propped up
- Transfers a toy from one hand to the other
- Picks up a toy or other small object
- Smiles on a regular basis
- Laughs out loud
- Cries at the end of an enjoyable activity
- Maintains eye contact with parents or caregivers for several minutes
- Have different cries for different things
- Responds when he hears familiar voices
- Enjoys taking rides in cars and looking at the scenery
- Imitates sounds he hears, other than speech
Five to six months:
- Enjoys being cuddled, kissed, and rocked from side to side
- Smiles readily and squeals when he is amused, surprised, or happy. Randomly opens and shuts his hands
- Speaks in a “happy” or “angry” voice, depending on the situation
- Is capable of recognising when someone is a stranger
- Holds out his arms when he want to be picked up
- Firmly grasps fingers, rattles, and small toys
- Constantly brings objects to his mouth
- Sits with a minimum amount of support
- Transfers object from one hand to the other
- Sits up on his own, without having to support himself with his hands
- Is able to support most of his weight on his feet
However, please note that none of these activities are sure-shot targets that need to be achieved by your baby in the prescribed time. These are just mere observations that one tends to notice in a growing baby.