Intelligence testing for infants

Written by emily pate
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Intelligence testing for infants
Babies are often given tasks to complete to assess motor skill development. (baby image by Olberto Mejia. from

Since they are non-verbal, infants must take specialised tests when it comes to intelligence or aptitude assessment. These types of tests have been in use and periodically updated since 1925. Several tests are used today, including the Bayley Scales, Mullen Scales, the Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale, the Fagan Test on Infant Intelligence and the Gesell Developmental Schedules for Very Young Children. Each of these tests has a different approach and focuses on testing a different area or areas of an infant's capacity for reasoning, learning and understanding.

Bayley Scales

This test measures the fine (grasping and visually tracking objects) and gross (movement of torso and limbs) motor development skills, cognitive development and receptive and expressive language development of infants up to 3 years old. Test administrators use toys and engaging activities to give the test. The parent or caretaker of the infant also completes a questionnaire reporting on the child's current emotional and social behaviours, which are compared to norms of infants the same age.

Mullen Scale

The Mullen scale is a test administered to children from birth to 5 years and 8 months old. The test measures fine and gross motor skills, receptive and expressive language development and visual reception. The test takes anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes, depending on the child's age. The child is given various visual, language and physical tasks and scored by a percentage and age-equivalent.

Cattell Infant Intelligence Scale

This test was introduced in 1950 and tests babies from 3 to 30 months old. It is an extension of the Stanford Binet Intelligence for Younger Children. Infants are given tasks to complete in the areas of motor skills and verbalisation. Some of these include lifting a cup at six months, ringing a bell at nine months and marking with a crayon at 12 months.

Fagan Test

The Fagan Test evaluated an infant's intelligence based on how much time she spends looking at a new item versus the time she spends looking at a familiar one. Infants were given a series of pairs of photographs to look at. Some of the photographs were repeated so they became the familiar object. These studies were found to be reasonably effective in predicting future intelligence of a baby.

Gessell Developmental Schedules for Very Young Children

The Gessell method assesses fine and gross motor skills, language development, adaptive behaviour and social development. Administrators have the baby complete tasks such as getting a ring hanging from a string, saying "da-da" with meaning and pushing her arm through a dress if someone else begins the task. These tests were not meant to measure intelligence, but rather to catch neurological impairments.

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