When Do Toddlers Learn Colors And How To Teach Them?


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Colors fascinate babies. The ability to identify colors is a milestone of their cognitive development. Most toddlers start differentiating colors by the age of 18 months. However, their ability to name different colors can develop by 36 months (1).

That said, you may start introducing colors to your children whenever you feel they are ready because the learning abilities vary from one child to another. You can teach colors by pointing out various objects in their environment— indoors or outdoors.

However, it is important to note that identifying and naming colors is a visual differentiation skill that takes time to develop. Connecting various items in the surroundings with their colors can be confusing for toddlers, and the skill only evolves with observation and practice (2) (3).

Keep reading this post to know about the benefits of learning colors for toddlers and how you can teach them.

Benefits Of Teaching Colors To Toddlers

Learning colors from a young age may have several benefits for toddlers. Some of these are:

  • Toddlers learn to make connections through colors; for example, green can be associated with raw banana, while yellow with a ripe one.
  • Color recognition enhances the language skills of toddlers. As they learn to identify and name the colors, they can express themselves better.
  • Knowledge of colors enhances mathematical skills that involve logic, sorting, comparing, organizing, and matching (5).
  • Certain color activities may also help in relaxing and destressing toddlers with behavioral issues (6).
  • Exploring and understanding colors can make toddlers better learners by improving their attention span (6) (7).

First Colors You Can Introduce To Toddlers

Toddlers get attracted to bright colors, so it is good to introduce colors, such as red, blue, green, and yellow (6). Most babies start differentiating between red and green colors by the time they are three or four-month-old (8).

You may decorate your children’s rooms using these colors or buy them toys and books that are bright.

Tips To Remember While Introducing Colors To Toddlers

Teaching colors to toddlers might take time and patience. However, some that you should remember before teaching colors are:

  • Children have different understanding capabilities, and you should design activities based on your child’s needs.
  • Introduce only one or two colors at one time and continue teaching about it until your child can easily recognize it.
  • Do not rush with any activity related to color. Give toddlers adequate time to understand and explore.
  • Keep exposing toddlers to colorful objects. More practice will help them retain the concept of color better.
  • Introduce colors through everyday activities. This will help children understand the concept faster.
  • Introduce contrasting colors at the beginning, such as red and yellow or green and blue. If you introduce colors of the same family, such as red and orange, toddlers might get confused.

Ways To Teach Colors To Toddlers

Teaching colors to toddlers is not always challenging. But when you introduce colors through fun activities, they can understand it better. Here are ten different ways to teach colors to your toddlers.

1. Serve a platter of colorful meal

  • Involve your toddlers while cooking or preparing meals.
  • Point out to them the colors of each item that you use in preparing the meal.
  • Serve colorful salads on their plates, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, or carrots.
  • While eating, ask children the color of each food item on their plates.
  • This simple activity may help children understand colors and their food better.

2. Compare two identical objects of different colors

  • Comparing is an important pre-math concept.
  • While teaching more than one color, compare two identical objects of the different color.
  • For example, if you want your toddlers to differentiate between blue and yellow colors, show them two identical balls of blue and yellow color. If you show a blue ball and a yellow fruit, children may get confused.

3. Sort objects by color

  • Give similar objects (pom poms or small balls) of different colors to your toddlers.
  • Encourage them to sort these objects into different groups based on their colors.
  • Then, have them place the sorted objects in the same color cup.
  • In the beginning, your toddlers may need your help in doing this activity.

4. Match the same colors

  • Most children enjoy color matching activities.
  • This can be a great activity for toddlers who are just starting to learn colors.
  • You may introduce the color matching activity through stickers, colored popsicle sticks, or color matching puzzles.
  • You may even play dress-up and wear a matching-colored outfit to add more fun to the activity.

5. Paint with hands

  • Toddlers enjoy painting with their hands.
  • Utilize this opportunity to introduce colors to them.
  • Give them a piece of paper and some paint (preferably one color) and let them unleash their inner artist.
  • Hand painting gives children an opportunity to feel the paint and explore the color. This activity may also help in enhancing their sensory skills.

6. Explore nature

  • Nature is a treasure of colors.
  • Go outdoors with your toddlers for a color hunt.
  • Point out different objects and introduce their colors to your children. You may use colorful flowers, green leaves, and grass to indicate colors.
  • This is an interesting way to teach colors to children as they can beautifully connect with nature.

7. Sing a song

  • Children can connect through music, so it is a good idea to teach colors through songs.
  • Play color songs for them.
  • Have fun singing and dancing together.
  • Point out the colors in these songs while singing them.

8. Recognize colors in books

  • Buy books that are big, bright, and colorful. Alternatively, you could even create books of colors at home by cutting out large pictures and binding them together.
  • As both of you read books together, show the colors in it.
  • This is a fun idea that may help children retain the concept of colors.

9. Practice with coloring books

  • The simplest and the most common way in which toddlers practice colors is through coloring books.
  • Coloring books come for all ages.
  • Choose the one that suits your child.
  • Coloring activity improves motor skills, enhances creativity, develops focus and hand-eye coordination, and relieves stress (9).

10. Color mixing

  • Once toddlers are thorough with learning primary colors, it is time to move to secondary colors.
  • Color mixing is a great activity for children to understand how secondary colors are created by mixing primary colors.
  • There are many color mixing activities that you can plan with them.
  • One such activity is to make a color mixing jar. First, in a plastic jar, put some shaving cream and marbles. Then, ask your child to add two primary colors and shake the jar.
  • Slowly, the colors in the jar start mixing, and it is fun to watch the change in colors.

There are several fun ways to introduce colors to your toddlers. Start with color matching activities and move on to the complex ones. Give toddlers adequate time to learn the concept. As you introduce these activities, ensure that your toddlers gradually learn the names of each color. Also, focus on children’s motor skills while they do the activity. Be creative, take it slow, and enjoy the process as your toddlers learn to unfold new ways of expression.


MomJunction’s articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
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Deepa Thomas

Deepa Rachel Thomas holds a master’s degree in English from the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. She has experience editing academic content for research scholars, reviewing the work of several B2B clients, and working closely with fiction/non-fiction writers. She worked as a mentor for young children at an NGO that focuses on helping children develop their language and soft… more

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