Why Learning Colors and Shapes is Crucial for Your Baby’s Development

A little girl with blue eyes looking at the sky.

Our eyes are amazing. It takes only around 13 milliseconds for the eye of an adult to recognize an image. However, we’re not born with such sharp eyes.

Babies learn to see over a period of time just like they learn to walk or talk. When they are born, their eyes are not fully developed, and they must practice using them to see things properly. As they grow, their eyes get better at focusing and working together.

One of the earliest exercises for their developing vision is differentiating colors and shapes. Recognizing the difference between a red rectangle and a green square isn’t just a game. It’s the beginning of understanding patterns and categorizations.

Today, we’ll explore the impact of colors and shapes on your baby’s development and how an introduction to these basic concepts prepares them for advanced learning ahead.

Why Are Colors and Shapes So Important for Infants?

Little boy playing with colorful Montessori wooden blocks.

As infants notice differences in colors and shapes, they start to understand and make sense of their surroundings. Learning to group and sort different objects by shape and color prepares them to understand numbers and letters later.

Everywhere we go, we see different colors. There are more than 10 million colors visible to the human eye. You can see shapes all over the place, too. Doors are basically big rectangles and car wheels look like big circles.

Solidifying the child's understanding of the characteristics of shapes and colors will take some practice. But after a while, your child will be able to notice the difference between a green apple and a yellow banana.

On the surface, this might seem trivial. However, shape and color recognition will prepare your kid to learn more advanced concepts in school.

How Leaning Colors and Shapes Help Kids With Other Skills?

Toddler learning alphabet.

Colors and shapes help children adopt high-level logic skills. That includes understanding concepts like "different" and "same," learning how to count, and recognizing letters/numbers.

Seeing your child point out that the sky is blue or that their favorite ball is round is definitely cute. But you must realize that these moments represent big milestones for their development.

Let's see how this knowledge paves the way for more complex concepts in the future.

  • Understanding math: Playing with shape blocks or trying to fit puzzle pieces is more than playtime. It gives children a sneak peek into geometry. It teaches children concepts like size, shape, and space. In the US, national education standards for kindergarteners include geometry skills like analyzing, describing, and comparing shapes.

  • Sorting and categorizing: Kids learn to make sense of the world by grouping similar things together when they start understanding colors and shapes. Down the line, this helps them think logically and remember better. Basically, it gives them the tools to solve much more complex problems as they grow up.

  • Learning to write: When you look at numbers like 0 and 3 or letters like Z and F? Different shapes, right? When your child learns about squares, triangles, and rectangles, it helps them recognize numbers and letters later. Shape games that involve patterns also help children develop pre-reading skills.

  • Better concentration: Our world is made up of colors and shapes. Once your kid starts associating colors and shapes with different objects, it will help them filter out unnecessary information.

When Should Kids Begin Learning About Colors and Shapes?

Little boy holding a wooden Montessori toy.

Colors and shapes are a huge part of early childhood education. Kids usually start learning colors around 18 months. However, the learning pace varies for each child. Some children start learning as late as 3 years old, so don't think your child is falling behind if they don't start at 18 months.

Now, let's look at these concepts in more detail. 

  • When should you teach children about colors? 

Around 18 months, many toddlers start getting colors down. Some kids might catch on sooner, others later. If a child has color vision issues like color blindness, they might need a bit of extra help.

  • When should you teach children about colors? 

Babies start noticing different shapes as soon as their eyes develop and their vision sharpens. After a year and a half, most children can tell that table plates and drinking cups aren't the same. Naming shapes is one thing, but getting what makes a shape unique is a deeper dive.

Early on, it's more about understanding the essence of shapes rather than just saying their names. That knowledge sets them up for school and all the learning that comes after.

Read more about what children know and need to learn about shape and space.

What Are Some Practical Ways to Teach Colors and Shapes?

Parents and their daughter playing with colorful wooden Montessori toys.

So, how do you teach your child the concepts of colors and shapes? Most parents and educators use colorful toys. They ask the children to identify them by color and talk to them about their shape in simple terms.

Everyday household items are also used for color quizzes. Artsy activities like fingerpainting and drawing are helpful, too.

But that's just a short explanation. Let's look at a couple of different ways of teaching your child about colors and shapes in detail.

Colorful toys

Colorful Montessori toys on a shelf.

You can let your child play and learn using colorful toys. One day, you can gift them a red toy car and a green dinosaur tomorrow. After a few days, ask them to name the toy's color. If they get it wrong - no biggie. You just continue talking about the right color, and they'll catch on after a while.

You can also gift them with multi-color toys. For instance, some Montessori puzzles for 1-year-old children can help your kid develop quicker and reach developmental milestones earlier.

Nature’s Palette

Mother, father and their son enjoying in the nature.

Nature can be a great ally to a good teacher. So, the next time you go outside, take a moment to show your child the ever-changing colors of the sky. And you don't even need to go outside to do this. You can simply talk about the different vibrant shades in a fruit bowl and give your child a valuable lesson.

Pointing out small natural wonders like this will give the child a real-time lesson in colors and leave them in awe.

Household Items

Fruits and vegetables on a display in the kitchen.

You'd be surprised how many learning opportunities are right in your home. Use common items like clothes or utensils. Turn snack or mealtime into a game by asking for items by their color, like “Can I have the yellow one?” It's a delightful and everyday way to test their color knowledge.

Shape Games

One year old child playing in the sand.

Everyone's worrying about kids spending way too much time indoors these days. Yes, "nature deficit disorder" is now officially a thing. So why not go outside and give your child an interactive learning lesson?

Have them draw, paint, or even mold shapes from sand. Guide them and keep repeating the shape names. Before you know it, they'll be a pro at it.

Child Art

Little girl is messy while fingerpainting.

Many children love drawing all of their parents' home walls. Why not use your child's artistic ambitions to teach them a few things? Encourage your child to draw or paint various shapes.

At this age, fingerpainting can be a beneficial activity. Give your child a piece of paper and stand by them to guide their movement. Each time, say the shape's name aloud, reinforcing what they're learning.


The world is full of dazzling colors and shapes, waiting for young eyes to discover. Incorporating a few simple and fun activities into your daily routine can lay the foundation for your child's cognitive growth. Teaching a child about colors and shapes is an opportunity to nurture your child's natural curiosity and improve their perception.

Did you know that you can speed up the learning process with Montessori? In Montessori, children use hands-on materials like color puzzles and geometric toys that are really fun for kids. Instead of just hearing about colors or shapes, they're touching, sorting, and playing with them.

If you want to know more about the Montessori method and toys, please contact us today and discuss it in detail. 

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