Early Bird Learning Guide™

The Early Bird Learning Guide™ is a system to help parents select the right books at the right time and understand which skills they’re reinforcing when they read a Cottage Door book with their little ones. The guide is based on widely accepted milestones of childhood development and corresponds to the age grade on each of our books.
0+ Months  Welcome to the world, little one!

Social & Emotional
• Recognizes parents' voices, faces, and scents
• Smiles in response to other people
• Makes strong eye contact when held face to face

Cognitive & Language
• Coos and babbles, especially when being talked to or sung to
• Recognizes own name
• Shows interest in simple picture books

Physical & Motor
• Holds head up and steady when being held
• Sits with support, then independently
• Reaches out and grasps objects


6+ Months  Your baby is hungry for learning.

Social & Emotional
• Follows your attention when looking at something
• Enjoys “peek-a-boo” and other surprises
• “Shows off” when rewarded with smiles and attention

Cognitive & Language
• Holds a book and vocalizes or pats pictures while being read to
• Understands object categories, like “cars” and “animals”
• Says first words, like “dog” or “ball”

Physical & Motor
• Begins holding objects between thumb and forefinger (pincer grasp)
• Claps hands and crawls 
• May take first steps without help

 12+ Months  Your baby wants to try new things.

Social & Emotional
• Displays affection in hugs, kisses, and smiles
• Shows distress when they face a challenge
• Knows when a parent likes or dislikes certain behavior

Cognitive & Language
• Vocabulary grows rapidly, from a few words to dozens
• Recognizes familiar sequences of events, such as bath time, story time, bedtime
• Understands simple instructions

Physical & Motor
• Eats with a spoon or fork
• Responds to music by bouncing or dancing
• Plays with toys that can be pushed or pulled while walking

18+M  Your baby is ready to fly!

Social & Emotional
• Begins to say no to many things
• Experiences emotional highs and lows
• Demonstrates a strong desire for independence

Cognitive & Language
• Vocabulary explodes, adding up to eight new words every day
• Tries to hum or sing
• Enjoys turning the pages of a book and filling in words of stories

Physical & Motor
• Improves fine motor skills, such as scribbling with a crayon
• Opens drawers and crawls inside cabinets
• Scoots around on small riding toys

 2+ Years  Your little one is ready to explore.

Social & Emotional
• Begins to talk about feelings and tries to control them
• Likes to help with household tasks
• Engages in pretend play with props

Cognitive & Language
• Wants to hear the same story again and again
• Names familiar objects with the correct word
• Begins to use logic and understands opposites

Physical & Motor
• Runs and walks smoothly
• Begins to draw pictures and letters
• Progresses toward toilet training

3+ Years  Your little one is spreading his wings!

Social & Emotional
• Engages in pretend social play, like “You be the mommy”
• Enjoys peers, but play is still not truly interactive
• Begins learning to take turns and share

Cognitive & Language
• Loves books and can converse about them
• Uses pronouns in simple sentences
• Understands “if-then” statements

Physical & Motor
• Undresses herself, but needs help dressing
• Hops and jumps by himself
• Is able to draw a circle

Family  Story time is family time!

Social & Emotional
• Strengthens family bonds
• Supports a literate home environment
• Creates lifetime memories

Cognitive & Language
• Supports future writing skills
• Reinforces language patterns
• Introduces communication and discussion skills

Physical & Motor
• Teaches how to use a book
• Improves hand-eye coordination
• Encourages exploration

For more information on key milestones in early childhood development, please visit: