Math (birth - 15 months)

Math for babies is about a lot more than just counting. It is about recognizing similarities and differences, relationships and patterns, size, quantity, sequence, and more.

Babies begin to form ideas about math at a very early age. A young baby is practicing math when she shows you she wants more of a game or recognizes similarities and differences when identifying familiar and unfamiliar adults. Watch when an older baby sorts big and little balls in different piles or recognizes when there is a change in the pattern of a daily routine—she is doing math!

Babies do not need adults to teach them math concepts, but they do need us to help them build a sense of pattern and predictability so they can make sense of their world. As an educator, you already do this through many different ways each day.

  • You give cues about what is coming next and use reassuring words to help make the connection.
  • You watch babies’ faces as you play hand clapping and knee-bouncing games—and pause as they anticipate the fun parts.
  • You offer babies actions to copy, such as shaking a rattle or banging a drum, and you cheer them on as they imitate and repeat.
  • You play back-and-forth games—talking and vocalizing, rolling a ball, going up and down.
  • You use math language as you talk with babies, using words such as more, under, big, or longer.
  • You give babies lots of chances to learn and discover relationships: what goes with what, what fits where, and how to make something interesting happen again and again.

All of these opportunities give babies the experiences they need to help them build number sense, interact with and build connections, and practice math concepts they will need as they grow and thrive.

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