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Identifying Body Parts

Toddler Milestones

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Toddler Belly Button

The belly button is one of the first body parts many toddlers can identify.

Photo: hfb / Flickr
Parents and other caregivers spend a good part of the day dealing with little toddler body parts. Tying a shoe, wiping a nose, holding a hand, kissing a skinned knee. It's no wonder then that by the time your toddler is between 1 and 2 years old, she should be able to identify a few body parts and between 2 and 3 years of age, she should be able to identify many.

What do I mean by identify? With younger toddlers who may not be using many words, just pointing to the right body part when you ask, for example, "Where is your hand?" is enough to demonstrate this skill. Once your toddler is using more words and is more vocal, she will begin to identify body parts by naming them when you ask, "What is this?" while pointing to a body part.

How to Encourage Development of this Skill:

  • Name body parts as you go through your day. When you wipe that nose, tell her that's what you're doing. When you ask for her hand before crossing a street, hesitate a moment and let her extend her arm and give it to you. Use bath time and getting dressed time to name each body part as it's being washed or as clothes go on or come off.
  • Read age-appropriate board books about body parts. Some good titles are My First Body Board Book by DK Publishing and Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes by Annie Kubler.
  • Play games that involve body parts. You can invent new games or adapt existing games like The Hokey Pokey ("Put your feet in" instead of left or right foot) or peek-a-boo ("Where's your foot hiding?").
  • Make sure your toddler has access to a mirror, preferably one that is full length so that she can look at and explore her body.
  • Make a collage of body parts by cutting pictures out of magazines and letting her glue them onto paper. Talk about each piece as she works.
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