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Baby & Toddler Math Milestones

mom and daughter playingYour child’s developmental process is unique. To guide you, education experts have mapped a few basic baby and toddler math skills to help you track your child’s development in different mathematical areas. See the Child Development Tracker for more information.

Choose a topic: Numbers | Geometry | Measurement | Patterns, Reasoning & Algebra


Between the ages of one and two, some children will understand, but not be able to explain the concepts of “more” and “enough.” For example, when they want more cookies than they were given, they will say “more.” They also may say “no more” when they are satisfied with the amount they were given.

Some two-year-olds may understand the words “one” and “two.”  And they will be able to follow simple directions, such as asking them to “take one” or “pick two.”

Many two-year-olds will know they are two and can hold up two fingers to show you.

Toward the end of the second year, some two-year-olds may try to recite number words in sequence but as they count higher, they may get the numbers out of order.

Geometry: Shapes & Space

Many one-year-olds understand that when an object is hidden from view it still exists, but is just “hiding.”

Between the ages of one and two, many children figure out how to match same-size shapes with each other. Some will be able to match same-size circles to circles, squares to squares, and triangles to triangles. With increased experience, they will be able to do this with different-size shapes — for example, matching a small circle to a big circle.

During their second year, many children will learn how to stack three or more blocks to make a tower.

Many children will learn how to do simple “insert” or shape puzzles throughout their second year. These are puzzles with a single, simple picture on each piece.


During their first year, many children figure out how to judge short distances. They can adjust their reach to pick up an object. During their second year, many figure out how to jump over a small object, and take long steps as they walk.

Between the first and second year, some children will explore quantity by filling and emptying containers with water or sand. Throughout these early years, many children will believe that a single cracker broken into many pieces is more food than the same unbroken cracker.

A few two-year-olds will discover how to correctly use words like “big” or “small,” “fast” or “slow,” “heavy” or “light.” For instance, a child might say: “My sister is a baby. She is small. I am big!”

Patterns, Reasoning & Algebra

Toward the end of their first year, many children begin to figure out that there is an order to their days. For instance, they will know that after dinner, bedtime is soon to follow.

When asked, many two-year-olds can pick up blocks in the order of size (from biggest to smallest, for example).

By the middle of the second year, most children will begin to see patterns in their environment. They will understand, for example, that night and day follow a continuous cycle. They also are becoming aware of man-made patterns, such as color patterns in a rug or tiles on a floor.

Throughout their second year, many children will figure out how to follow a simple alternating repeating pattern by stringing large beads or stacking colored blocks.

By the third birthday, many children begin to see how things can be sorted or classified into groups. The groups might be based on color, shape, or size. For instance, they will figure out that all soft, fuzzy animals go in a box, brown wooden blocks get stacked on a shelf, and big trucks get parked near the wall.

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