Baby and toddler maths

by Dawn Kelly. Even if you think you aren't great at maths, you still have lots to teach your toddler.

Two boys playing in sand box


Maths is everywhere, even for babies and toddlers!

Lots of day-to-day experiences involve mathematical skills that many of us wouldn't even consider as maths.

So even if you think you aren't great at maths, you'll still have absolutely loads to teach your little one!

How CBeebies can help

Although Numberjacks is designed for slightly older children, toddlers will still find it interesting. They can shout out any numbers they recognise on screen. There are games, programme clips and make and colour activities to try out on the Numberjacks pages on the website.

Many pre-school programmes, like Tikkabilla, incorporate mathematical skills - whether it's a counting rhyme, number story, shape sorting or looking at how things fit together. Again, your toddler could try out some of these on the website pages.

However, there are many activities you can do with your little one whether you're at home or out and about.

You can identify house numbers as you go for a walk, look at the shapes of objects you see (e.g. wheels, doors), pair up socks, sort and match other items - even count toys as you tidy them away!

How to make a magic moment

Babies as young as four or five months old love playing peek-a-boo.

If you count;1, 2, 3, boo! they begin to remember the sequence of word sounds and know when the boo is coming. After a little while your baby will giggle and squeal in anticipation of the boo.

Toddlers love creating. Making a castle (or anything really) out of empty cartons and packets helps toddlers learn about size, shape and space.

Learning how things may or may not fit together helps young children appreciate the importance of shape, how they can be used as well as the actual name of a shape.

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Expert opinion

Babies learn about the order of events and begin to predict what will happen next. So even learning to get dressed is a maths-based activity in that we need to put clothes on in the right order and the right way around.

Toddlers start to hear and use number names so counting games and songs are great for little children.

In songs where you wriggle fingers or toes, babies learn that one movement matches one sound. This understanding is a foundation for later more complex maths skills.

Dawn Kelly, Baby & Child Development Expert, (RGN, RSCN, BSc, PGDipHV, PGDipEd, RNT, PGDipRes)

Top tips

  • Counting out money for the bus or for something you buy when shopping.Finding the TV channel on the remote control together.Talking about how things fit when tidying away toys into boxes or cupboards.Counting the steps as you go up and down stairs (just up to 10 for little ones).

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