• Baby has an incredible natural ability to understand math!
• Even newborn babies have a sense of numbers.
• Try simple, fun games like counting during routines, exploring shapes in books, and playing with toys to develop baby’s math skills.

What do you think when you hear the word “math”? You may think of multiplication tables, fractions, or percentages. Or maybe you think of studying for a test, or learning about math in school. A lot of things may come to mind, but you probably don’t think about a newborn baby’s math skills!

While there are a lot of math concepts that must be taught, studies show newborn babies are born with a sense of numbers. While they may not be able to count, they have a basic understanding of numbers, which is a foundation to future math skills. Baby’s sense of numbers strengthens quickly, and as young as 6 months, their sense of numbers can be  connected to how their math skills will develop as a toddler.

Babies and children use math every day to problem solve and make choices. Some call these skills “early math.” They include counting, making comparisons in quantity, identifying shapes and measurements, and noticing patterns. Have you noticed your baby using math skills? It’s much more common than you might think! For example, in their first year, babies may:

  • Notice things like quantity, size, shape and color.
  • Begin to notice patterns. They may notice when you turn on the water, it’s time for a bath. They may also notice patterns on a toy or book.
  • Understand cause and effect. They may realize if they push the button on the toy, it speaks to them. Or if they shake a rattle, it makes a noise.
  • Begin to think of objects in groups. For example, toys that roll and toys that don’t.
  • Understand words that have to do with quantity. For example, they may understand when you say, “This dog is bigger than that dog.”

Isn’t it amazing baby’s brain is already figuring out math at such a young age? So much of learning happens by experiencing everyday life, and by playing and engaging with baby. There are some activities that can especially help with building math skills. Here are 7 simple and fun ways to encourage math skills in baby’s everyday life. Take advantage of their brain’s ability to learn and change at this young age!

  1. Incorporate counting into your daily routines. Even before baby can count, you can count out loud to them. Count stairs, pieces of food, toys, or anything they interact with on a daily basis.
  2. Use high contrast toys. In the first year of life, high contrast black-and-white toys helps develop baby’s vision. They can also expose baby to new patterns and shapes!
  3. Point out shapes and sizes when reading. Help baby notice when something is larger or smaller, or what shape or color an object might be by pointing it out. As they get older, you can ask them more questions and have them find the patterns, by saying things like “Find all the circles!”
  4. Play with shape sorters, puzzles and blocks. Toys like this help baby learn shapes and sizes, and how they relate to each other.
  5. Show your child numbers. From clocks to calendars, we’re surrounded by numbers! Just like how you show your child words when reading to them, show them numbers so they can get familiar with what they look like.
  6. Dance and sing songs. You may wonder what dancing and music has to do with math! Rhyming and repeating helps expose baby to patterns, which helps with learning and memory. Dancing helps children have special awareness, which is also a math-related skill.
  7. Go outside. Math is everywhere in nature. Look for patterns, shapes, colors and sizes, and point them out to your little one. You can also count while doing this. For example, asking questions like, “How many trees do you see?”

Math is such a part of our daily life, sometimes as adults we don’t even notice when it comes up. But baby is always learning and improving their math skills! Play with them every day to help encourage math skill development.

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