Problem Solving


Your baby is learning how to get what she wants, when she wants it; this is also called thinking and problem solving.

During the first year of your baby’s life, she is making great strides in her ability to think, solve problems, and communicate with you. These are critical cognitive skills.

For instance, your baby thinks to herself, I want that rattle! Your baby solves the problem by deciding to roll over and reach for or crawl to the rattle. Maybe your baby is thinking, I am hungry! She solves the problem by communicating through cries, grunts, or pointing until you feed her.

Once you are sure your infant’s basic needs have been met and she is not in any danger, it is important to give your baby time to work on problem-solving skills.

Think about times you have just put your baby in the crib, and she immediately begins to cry as you turn to leave the room. Even though you may want to pick her up again and rock her longer, this is a great opportunity to let your infant work on her problem-solving skills, namely the skill of being able to self-soothe and see what she can do to make herself comfortable enough to go to sleep. It is certainly hard to listen to the cries, especially when it is your f irst baby, but as your baby matures, she will need to be able to put herself to sleep.

It is also very important to support problem-solving skills when your baby is learning to feed herself a bottle or use a spoon.

Infants as young as six months have been known to feed themselves; they won’t get all the food on the spoon or even in their mouths, but they are developing self-help skills and problem-solving skills. They are also developing their wrist muscles and fine motor skills (small muscle skills).

When you support problemsolving skills with your infant, you are supporting her brain development and giving her the power to think and constantly learn about the world around her.

Support your baby’s problem-solving skills by responding to her efforts to communicate. Use words to describe what she is experiencing: “I see you looking at the toy on the floor. Let me get that for you.” Talking to your child and explaining what you are doing when you do it also increases language development.

Your infant's problem-solving development:

0 to 2 months—Your infant is born with built-in problem-solving tools called reflexes (rooting and sucking for food).

2 to 4 months—Your infant is more alert; she explores; hand-eye coordination begins to develop and bringing toys to mouth leads to problem solving.

8 months—Your infant plays with toys to produce responses to actions by grasping, shaking, and banging.

12 months—Your baby uses more purposeful levels of problem solving and is no longer limited to what is immediately in front of her. She can now push a toy aside to choose another one.