Babies can easily see they’re way smaller than mommy and daddy. But they lack the ability to put their thoughts into words. How to help? Play age-appropriate games, incorporate sizes into daily activities, and point out size differences found in nature. Add a hint of drama (see below), and watch how fast she catches on!
1. Start small. Keep it simple when you first introduce sizes. Limit descriptors to big and small. You can add words like tiny, medium, and huge later. Begin by showing your baby a big teddy bear he plays with, and then a small stuffed animal he also knows. Say the word big in a deep, booming voice with your arms stretch out wide to indicate the bigger bear. Say the word small in a soft, squeaky voice while making yourself small to indicate the other. Congrats! Your child is learning!
2. Pile on the cereal. At breakfast or playtime, create two groups of dry cereal on your kitchen table. (What you use is up to you.) Gather 10 cereal pieces for one heap, and count out 20 for the other. Any number will do, however. Just make sure one pile is noticeably bigger than the other. Ask your little one to point to the bigger mound, and then the smaller. You also can play around and make piles of equal sizes. Tweak them again to make the big pile smaller and the small one bigger. Invite your youngster to help herself to a handful of cereal to hike the fun quotient.
3. Explore big and small like a champion. You know those colorful nesting cups babies love to fill up with water and then dump out during a bath? They’re also ideal for teaching. Line up cups in descending order going from largest to smallest. Repeat, this time going from smallest to largest. Ask your child to touch the smallest cup.
4. Use hands to show the difference. Grab a crayon and trace baby’s hand on a sheet of paper. On the same paper, trace yours. This crafty little ploy is a great way to help your child grasp the idea of sizes. Have your cutie color and decorate the paper with stickers. He’ll have fun peeling each sticker off its backing, which helps work his fine motor skills, too.
5. Resort to hocus-pocus. Grab one large rubber ball and one small one, and place them behind your back. One at a time, raise each one to shoulder height and say, “Here’s a little ball, and here’s a great big one!” Make them disappear, and repeat. Cook up more magic with other objects: an old-school Slinky or a DIY fan made from a single sheet of paper works, too!
6. Take the show on the road. Walk outdoors with your child and point to different sizes found in nature. Show her big and small puddles, chirping birds, hidden rocks, and fallen leaves. Ask, “Big or small?” Let her guess the answer, and cheer her on!