Do Toddlers Learn Colors or Shapes First? 

 December 6, 2023

By  maipham

As a parent, one of the most fascinating experiences is watching your toddler explore the world around them. Their wide-eyed curiosity and eagerness to learn is truly a joy to behold. One question that often comes up during this stage of growth is whether toddlers learn colors or shapes first. This seemingly simple question opens up a range of interesting discussions about cognitive development and learning processes. So, let’s dive in, shall we?

Do toddlers learn colors or shapes first?

The order in which toddlers learn colors and shapes can vary from child to child. Typically, color and shape recognition are cognitive milestones that toddlers begin to develop around the same time. However, there are some general trends to consider:


Between the ages of 18 months and 2 years, many toddlers begin recognizing and naming colors. Initially, they often grasp primary colors like red, blue, and yellow. As they grow, they gradually expand their knowledge to include secondary colors and more complex shades.


Shape recognition usually follows closely after color recognition. Around the same age as color recognition, typically between 2 and 3 years old, toddlers often start identifying simple shapes such as circles, squares, and triangles.

What shapes do Year 2 need to know

It’s important to remember that these are general guidelines and individual children may reach these milestones at different ages. Various factors, such as exposure to educational activities, play experiences, and parental involvement, can influence a child’s development in these areas.

Learning Colors

Understanding Color Recognition

Toddlers typically start recognizing colors between 18 months to 2 years of age. It’s a cognitive leap for them to understand that a particular object, say a ball, retains its name whether it’s red, blue, or green. In the beginning, they often grasp primary colors like red, blue, and yellow.

As they continue to grow and learn, their knowledge expands to include secondary colors, and even more complex shades.

Tips and Techniques for Teaching Colors

When it comes to teaching your toddlers colors, it’s crucial to incorporate learning into their play time. Use colorful toys, flashcards or picture books for visual learning. You can also encourage them to sort objects based on colors or ask them to point out specific colors in their surroundings. A game of ‘I spy’ with colors can be a fun and educational activity.

Remember, every child learns at their own pace, and it’s important to be patient and supportive during this wonderful learning journey.

Learning Shapes

What do toddlers learn from matching shapes?

Understanding Shape Recognition

Just like colors, toddlers typically start recognizing shapes around the same age, between 2 to 3 years old. They begin to understand that different objects can share the same shape, even if their color, size, or texture varies.

Initially, they grasp simple shapes like circles, squares, and triangles. As they grow, their understanding deepens to include more complex shapes.

Tips and Techniques for Teaching Shapes

Instilling shape recognition in toddlers can be a fun and interactive process. Here are a few tips:

  • Use Shape Sorters: Shape sorter toys are great tools for teaching toddlers about different shapes. They provide hands-on experience and help kids understand the concept of matching shapes.
  • Shapes in Daily Life: Point out different shapes in your child’s surroundings. For example, explain how a window is square, or a clock is round. This helps them connect shapes with real-world objects.
  • Craft Activities: Engage your toddler in simple craft activities using different shapes. Cutting out shapes from colored paper and pasting them can be a fun learning exercise.

Remember, every child is unique and learns in their own way and at their own pace. It’s all about making learning fun and enjoyable for your little one.


In conclusion, the journey of learning colors and shapes for toddlers is a fascinating adventure, filled with discovery and joy. Whether your toddler learns colors or shapes first depends on many factors, including their own unique pace of development and the learning environments they are exposed to. What’s important is to keep the learning fun, enjoyable, and stress-free. Create a colorful world for them to explore and provide ample opportunities for them to interact with different shapes in their daily lives. Remember, you are your child’s first and most influential teacher. So, cherish these precious moments of growth and learning. After all, these are the building blocks that will shape their understanding of the world around them. It’s a beautiful journey, not just for them, but for you as well.


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