Teach your baby about shapes | 0 – 1 years

Occupational therapist Susanne Hugo explains why development of the shape concept is vital during early childhood.


When you’re teaching your child about shapes, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • It’s important to let your little one learn shapes in three phases. First, let him experience the shape with his whole body. For example, walk around the outline of a circle. Then let him touch the shape by holding and playing with blocks or toys in that shape. Lastly, let him identify the shape and draw it on paper.
  • Your child must first be able to point to the shape (without naming it) every time you ask him to do so.
  • Only once he has mastered one shape, should you move on to the next. Teach your child about shapes in this order: circle, triangle, square, rectangle, cross, diamond, half circle, oval and star.

Activities to help your child develop the shape concept:

It’s amazing how much your clever little one is capable of at such a young age. At about nine months, he is already starting to store the shape concept apart from the colour concept in his memory.

While your baby won’t be able to identify or name any shapes during the first year, the purpose of these activities is to expose him to various shapes so he becomes aware of them.

  • Make sure your baby has a variety of toys of different shapes to play with. When playing with these, you could say: “The ball is a round circle and this block is a square.” Make your baby aware of different shapes as often as possible.
  • Place specific toys like balls, wooden blocks and foam blocks of different shapes in a container. Unpack these with your baby while giving the name of each shape as you do.
  • Hang mobiles or pictures with different shapes in your baby’s room, play area, above his changing station or on his car seat. Name the different shapes for him when you see him looking at, or playing with, them.
  • Let your baby sit on your lap while you page through a book with different shapes. Be sure to name the shapes he is seeing.


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