Social cognition refers to the ability to understand other people’s minds. It involves skills such as understanding others’ intentions, desires, and beliefs. These skills are important for children to learn language, learn how objects work, and understand other people’s perspectives. Social cognition is a skill that starts to develop from birth, but continues to develop throughout childhood. We report six studies in which we developed and tested a new 21-question parent-report measure of social cognition for children from 0–47 months: the Early Social Cognition Inventory (ESCI). These studies, involving 984 parents and their children from around the world (including Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, United States, Trinidad and Tobago), found that we can use the ESCI to track young children’s socio cognitive development. Parents were very good reporters of their children’s skills – when both parents reported on their children’s abilities separately, they generally reported the same things. We also tested one group of children in the lab on a series of social cognition tasks, and found that the parent reports strongly matched how well children did on the tasks. Our research found that the ESCI can be used in different English-speaking countries, with parents of different ethnic backgrounds, and parents of different levels of education. ESCI scores related positively with household income (within the UK); children with siblings had higher scores; and Australian parents reported lower scores than American, British, and Canadian parents.