What are important cognitive milestones for my one year old?

It is important for a one year old to do the following:

  • Explore objects in many different ways (shaking, banging, throwing, dropping)
  • Find hidden objects easily 
  • Look at the correct picture when an image is named 
  • Imitate gestures 
  • Begin to use objects correctly (drinking from a cup, brushing his hair, dialing a phone, listening to the receiver)

One-year-old children are curious about most everything and try hard to explore the world around them. A typical 12-month-old child will display the following cognitive milestones:

  • explore objects in many different ways (such as shaking, banging, throwing, and dropping)
  • find hidden objects easily
  • look at the correct picture when an image is named (such as focus on a picture of a “dog” when asked)
  • imitate gestures and sounds
  • begin to use objects correctly (for example, drinking from cup, brushing hair, dialing phone, listening to receiver)

In terms of language skills, a typical 12-month-old will show these cognitive milestones:

  • pay increasing attention to speech
  • respond to simple verbal requests
  • respond to “no”
  • use simple gestures, such as shaking head for “no”
  • babble with inflection
  • say “dada” and “mama” although not always appropriately
  • use exclamations, such as “oh-oh!”
  • try to imitate words

This answer was created with the help of physicians at South Riding Pediatrics ( and

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.