Child Development


Preschoolers (Ages 3-4)


Toddlers (Ages 1-3)


When Should My Toddler Know Shapes?

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When Should My Toddler Know Shapes?

As your toddler starts to grow into their own and they begin to comprehend the world around them, they will begin to learn many things, including their shapes. While many babies will begin to notice shapes and realize their existence in the first year or so, they will not really understand what they see until a couple of years down the road. Today, we will talk about when your toddler will know shapes and how you can help your kids learn more about these important building blocks of life.

When Will My Toddler Know Shapes?

Your child will go through a few shape-related phases as they grow. At 3 months of age, your baby’s vision will start to focus, and they will be able to distinguish between smaller objects, including shapes. At 12-18 months, most children will notice the different sizes of items and potentially recognize the difference between basic shapes like a circle and a square.

However, parents will have the most success helping their toddlers understand shapes when they are between 2 and 3 years of age. By 3 years old, your child should have a strong comprehension of the basic shapes, including rectangles, squares, triangles, and circles. Some toddlers may also understand more advanced shapes, like ovals and hearts.

Why Is It Important To Teach Your Kids About Shapes?

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There are many ways that you can teach your toddler about shapes with toys and games.

It is a smart idea to start teaching your kids about the idea of shapes as soon as you can because understanding shapes can provide the building blocks that can help them learn about other subjects along the way. 

For instance, shapes are the basic elements of many forms of math. Down the road, when they are learning about geometry and other subjects, they will be using shapes. When a toddler is able to understand squares and triangles, they can count the sides as their first math lesson.

Shapes can also help children to get a better grasp of letter recognition. For instance, a triangle looks like the letter “V,” a circle looks like “O,” and so on. When you start teaching them about letters a couple of years down the road, you can bring up the shapes they know, and it might help with the process.

If you buy your toddler a toy or puzzle that uses shapes, such as one that requires them to put shapes in matching holes, then they can learn basic problem-solving skills. It may take some time for them to figure out the toy, but this experience with shapes will help their problem-solving skills down the road.

Introducing Your Kids to Shapes Before 2 Years Old

You can start to teach your kids about shapes at any point. When you do, start with the basics:

  • Circle
  • Triangle
  • Square
  • Rectangle 
  • Oval

You can show your child these shapes with toys, or you can point them out when you see them in the real world. For instance, the bottom of your mug looks like a circle, the cereal box looks like a rectangle, etc. If you see your child point out shapes, then applaud them and encourage them to continue to keep looking for other examples around them.

Another way to teach them is to give them several shapes of the same kind and encourage them to sort the shapes or match them up. You can use toys or create your own by cutting out 2D card stock shapes.

You can also let your kids be creative by drawing shapes or using PlayDoh to make their own shapes. If they make something resembling a real shape, then point it out. You can also find many worksheets online that teach your kids the building blocks of shapes. 

Your Toddler Will Know Shapes at Between 2 to 3 Years of Age

girls playing hopscotch, a classic outdoor game
You can teach your kids shapes in different ways, including by drawing outside with sidewalk chalk.

It is fair to expect your toddler to know shapes at two years of age but don’t be concerned if they aren’t making major strides at this point. By 3 years old, they should be closer to comprehending the idea of shapes. 

Once they start to recognize the basic shapes we discussed earlier, and they have a good understanding of them, then you can start to move on to harder shapes, like the heart, diamond, and star. 

By age 3, your child should know the basic shapes and a couple of the more advanced shapes. Some toddlers may even recognize the octagon, hexagon, and pentagon. Either way, keep playing games and provide exercises so they can continue to learn and absorb this important information about shapes. 

Tricks to Teaching Your 3-Year-Old About Shapes

There are several tactics that you can use to teach your older toddlers about shapes that are fun and educational.

Tracing and Coloring

One of the most basic strategies is to provide stencils that come in various sizes so your kids can trace around them and get used to different shapes. Once they trace them, have them color in the shapes with fun colors that might help them to remember the shape the next time.

Use Q-Tips to Educate

Another fun and inexpensive trick that parents try is buying a box of Q-tips and then using them to create shapes. Circles might be tough, but you can make squares, rectangles, triangles, and others. Your kids will have a lot of fun making new shapes in this manner.

Draw Shapes with Sidewalk Chalk

On warm days, when your kids are playing outside, give them some sidewalk chalk and ask them to draw their favorite shapes. Then, you can join them and draw different shapes that they may not have seen before. You can even have your toddler jump on the different shapes as they call them out!

Bean Bag Toys

If you want to continue to make learning fun, then the tool that many experts recommend is bean bag toys. These are only safe for kids over 36 months of age. Basically, the bean bags come in a variety of sizes and colors. Kids love to throw them around, make piles, and sort them into separate groups. Bean bags are a great way for your kids to get excited about shapes and learn at their own pace. As a special bonus, most of these toy sets come with a mesh bag so you can store them away when not in use.


Your toddler will know shapes within the first several years of their life, and from there, they will develop other skills, like math and numbers. If they don’t learn right away, then just stick with it, and they will get the hang of it. Just remember to point out shapes wherever you see them, and you will succeed. 

Up Next:

Child Development Tips for Toddlers

When Should Your Toddler Know Numbers

The Developmental Milestones at 2 Years of Age

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