Teaching Your Toddler About Body Parts

Toddler girl in the bathtub.

Long before giving the dreaded teenager talk about sex, you’ll have to explain about all the body parts. This basic lesson is important for kids so they can explain if something hurts and start to learn about how their bodies work. Begin teaching your little one about his or her body by following these tips:

Choose your language 

We don’t mean literally select English, Chinese, Spanish or another language to teach your child about bodies. We’re referring to deciding how you’re going to talk about parts. Do you want to call the stomach the tummy, for example? What about the genitals, will they be penis and vagina, private parts or something more silly and colloquial? Talk with your partner about how you wish your little one to talk about his or her body before starting.

Play a game

The Simon Says game isn’t just a frustrating way for elementary school teachers to trick kids into messing up. This activity can be really helpful for kids learning about the parts of the body. Consider playing it at home when your children start grasping arms, legs, head, stomach, feet, hips and more. You can even do a face-only version, with Simon only talking about touching the nose, ears, eyes, tongue, cheeks, eyebrows, teeth, lips and chin. Phew! That’s a lot of words to learn!

Happy lvoing young african mother having fun with her baby and smile at home.

“Pointing to the body part solidifies the name.”

Point!

The best way to help kids connect body part words with the actual thing is to point. When you say arm, point to your arm. Then, gesture to your child’s arm. Have him or her point to his or her own arm and then to yours. As your child advances and knows all the terms, play silently as you point to a body part and have the child speak its name aloud. You can even do this as you walk through the park or use the dog or cat as an anatomy lesson. This also teaches that people aren’t the only thing that have these body parts.

Talk about what they do 

It’s not just important for your toddlers to be able to name their arms. They have to know what arms do! Discuss the uses of the body parts while you teach them. This information will help the children connect the name with its function, solidifying both in their minds. Ask, “What helps you walk?” to which your children should say, “My feet and legs!” Or, “What helps you through the ball?” which should earn a reply of, “My hands and arms!” This can be a fun game to play wherever you go when matched with any movement from sitting down to running, drawing and talking.


Don’t forget the little things

Body parts are often thought of as larger pieces like the extremities, head and torso. However, don’t forget the face, too! Smaller parts of the body such as the belly button, toenails, fingers and earlobes are harder to memorize and may be best for kids who are a little older, like age 4-5.