As your baby heads toward the toddler years, she's ready to start learning the words for numbers and to begin basic counting. Don't expect her to start using her hands or words to count up to 10. This skill takes time, and your baby needs to be cognitively ready to count before she can master this task. You can help her develop pre-math skills, however, and set the stage for numbers learning later.
Time to Teach
Keep in mind that your baby has a short attention span. Even older infants — those between 8 and 12 months of age — can only focus on a task or activity for two to three minutes at a time, according to the website HealthyChildren.org. Whether you're counting with him or pointing out numbers in a book, keep the lesson brief or switch between different activities to hold his interest.
By the end of her first year, your baby is beginning to recognize that objects have names. As you go about your day identifying different objects for her, add numbers to the mix. When you name her toys, household items and the various things that she sees, point out numbers and say the names. For example, if she's looking at a sale sign while the two of you are grocery shopping, point to the number and say something such as, "That's number five."
Your baby is increasingly exploring the world through his senses, according to the website KidsHealth. Give him a hands-on learning experience with a sensory activity. In addition to pointing out numbers, provide something for him to touch. Create your own sensory number flashcards. Mold the numbers up to five on pieces of cardboard using modeling clay. Make them lumpy and bumpy. As he feels each number, say the the word for it.
With math-themed children's books you can show your baby pictures of numbers, have her point to items that you count and develop a numbers vocabulary. Stick to a few pages or focus on just one number. Children's books to try include Emily Thomson's "One Bear: The Kids Learn to Count Book"; "Numbers Colors Shapes," by Roger Priddy; and "1, 2 at the Zoo," by Sue Dicicco.