How meal time, bath time, & car time can prepare your child for math!

Believe it or not, babies are born with brains that are ready for learning numbers, patterns, sizes, shapes, and comparisons. Using everyday moments, you can help your child build a healthy brain that’s prepared for problem-solving and math.

These simple ideas—during mealtime, car time, and bath time—can help you turn everyday moments into powerful learning opportunities!


If you have a baby who is eating cereal or table food, count each bite as you feed them with a spoon. Using a fun, sing-song voice as you count shows your baby that counting is fun! 

As your child can feed himself finger foods like Cheerios, count out a certain number and put them in a group. “Let’s count 5 Cheerios! 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5!” Counting individual items teaches your child that numbers correspond with objects.

Once your child understands that numbers represents objects, you can begin doing simple addition and subtraction. “How many chicken nuggets are on your plate? That’s right, 5. If you eat 2, how many are left?”  Or “How many carrots will you have if I give you 1 more?” They may not know the answers at first, but you can take this opportunity to point to the items and count with them.

Have fun with patterns and shapes. Create a simple pattern such as carrot, grape, carrot, grape. Then let you child create her own patterns with finger foods. Meal time is also a great opportunity to talk about shapes! “What shape is your cracker?”


Teach comparisons such a big, small, heavy and light. Having simple toys in the bathtub, such as plastic cups, is a fun way to do this. Simple conversations like these may not seem like math, but they are.

“Which cup is big and which cup is small?”

“Pour the cup from up high. Now pour the cup from down low.”

“When you fill the cup with water, does it get heavier? When you dump the water out, does it feel lighter?

Talk about shapes, colors, and sizes of bath toys.

Use words like over, under, down, up during bathtime. “I’m going to pour the water down your back to rinse you off.” Or “Look up as I rinse your hair.”


What shapes do you see? Houses, shops, signs, the wheels on a car—they all have shapes that your child can begin to recognize!

Talk about time. “It will take us about 10 minutes to get to the store.”

Count things. Traffic lights, cows and horses, red trucks, white cars, buses. Children love to count!

Ask how many? How many wheels does that truck have? How many wheels does that car have? How many wheels does that bicycle have?

Here are some resources that can help you on your journey:

– Watch this short video for encouraging ways that real parents count, group, and compare with their little ones.

– Visit the Count, Group, and Compare page and click on the tips at the bottom of the page for Infants 0-12 months and Toddlers 12-24 months.

– Receive regular, FREE resources from The Palmetto Basics.

– Follow The Palmetto Basics on Facebook and Twitter. We provide encouraging, real-life, shareable content to help parents and caregivers!

If you, your faith community, your organization, or your place of business would like to join us as a Champion for Children, contact us! [email protected].

Thanks for sharing this post and spreading the word about The Palmetto Basics to those within your circle of influence!

Translate »