My daughter currently can. She is 21 months old. What is a typical age for this milestone?

  • 2
    It would be interesting to know if most people consider just counting to 10 as satisfactory or if they should understand the sequence fully. Like asking what comes after 7, for example.
    – Kai Qing
    Aug 6, 2015 at 20:15
  • I think the title is pretty sufficient and clear, and the details in the body not really necessary to answer the title question. (I think it may be improved with less personal details). As the babycenter article linked in swiehoff's answer shows, parents want to know the answer to question like this.
    – user11394
    Aug 6, 2015 at 21:25
  • My 21 month old son counts to 14 he started counting steps as we walked down together and as you can tell wet have 1steps haha now he just randomly stops talking to me and his mum and counts from 1 all way up to 12 he currently is getting up to 20 but after 12 his numbers are getting a little mixed ect it's amazing to see how much he picks up and takes in :D
    – user20206
    Dec 15, 2015 at 21:23
  • My 6 month old can count to 2 on his fingers. Were working on 3!
    – user23815
    Jul 16, 2016 at 15:37

4 Answers 4


There are different ideas of "counting"

  1. Memorizing 10 words in a row. If they started to speak early and practice a lot, they can manage it when they are about two years old.
  2. Being able to count the number of items/fingers etc. My daughter and her friends started doing this correctly when they were four years old.

21 months is pretty spot on, or even a bit earlier than a lot of the kids I've seen. You don't mention how consistent she is about it (gets them in the correct order every time, doesn't skip numbers), but if she is not only able to count to 10 but not mix them up or skip some, then I think that is great!

Here is a nice article detailing how a child moves from no clue, to memorizing the number sequence, to actually internalizing the concept of numbers.


  • 1
    It's funny you say 21 months - at that age my son (whom we are raising bilingual) couldn't do it except by switching between English and Mandarin. May 5, 2020 at 13:44

There can't be such thing as a "typical age" for this milestone (I mean, more precise than "about 2 years old"). Keep in mind that toddler's vocabulary is quite limited :

mean [Language Development Survey] vocabulary scores at 24 months have been between 175 and 195 words, with standard deviations in the range of 70 to 80 (Klee et al., 1998; Rescorla & Alley, 2001). [source]

This means (roughly) that about 70 % of children know "between 100 and 280 words" at 24 months — and 15 % more than 280, 15 % less than 100. See the large dispersion ?

Of course you can translate this dispersion into a time dispersion. As a rough guess, most children should be able to speak 100 words somewhen between 20 months and 26 months. But being able to count to 10 would mean that 10 % of the words he knows are numbers !

Given that, and the fact that some parents will put some effort on numbers while others won't mind at all, not to mention the interest of the child himself, there is no way some "typical age" can emerge.

Furthermore, as reminded by arved there is a strong difference between counting as a nursery rhyme and understanding the meaning of numbers.

  • FWIW, our first daughter was somehow able to number things at 24 months, but didn't master numbers (to 10) before 30 months, although I often numbered stairs with her. Jul 20, 2016 at 11:24

My little guy started counting to six at 12 months and now at 16 months counts to 10 . He can recognize the numbers in any order and say it from memory on his own and start at any number. I guess it all depends on the child, every child is amazing and unique.

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