Giant List of Self-Care Skills for Babies,Toddlers and Preschoolers

Giant List of Self-Care Skills for Babies,Toddlers and Preschoolers

Self Care Skills By Age (Babies, Toddlers and Preschool Children)

Giving children a chance to practice self care skills is a very important part of growth and development. The time and effort you invest into encouraging self care is a sure way to help your child feel capable.

Learning to get dressed, brushing teeth and other simple self care tasks help children develop a sense of autonomy and responsibility.

Self care is also an opportunity for children to feel in charge of their body and know that they are trusted by their parents.

Teaching a child to do simple self care tasks is a surefire path to supporting the development of healthy self-esteem.

Taking time to let your child explore skills at an early age may take time but it’s well worth it because this impacts your child’s long term well-being, happiness and capabilities.

Here is a Giant List of Self Care Skills for Babies, Toddlers and Young Children

Self-Care Skills for Babies (crawlers) to 12 months

  1. Throw own bib in laundry hamper
  2. Clean face and hands with damp wash cloth (finish up with help)
  3. Stow own shoes away (with help/works well to have one assigned spot)
  4. Feed self a snack (cereal 0’s, cubed soft fruits etc…)
  5. Hold a spoon and toothbrush to imitate parents/siblings
  6. Play alone for 10-30 minutes*

self care skills by age toddler

Self-Care Skills from 12-18 months (Continue all of the above plus)

  1. Wash hands (may need help)
  2. Brush Teeth (followed up with help)
  3. Start exploring how to undress self
  4. Start exploring how to take off-put on shoes
  5. Start exploring how to use hair brush
  6. Choose own outfit (offer limited choices)
  7. Explore how to drink from open cup
  8. Begin eating alone with child safe spoon/fork
  9. Play alone for 10 -30 minutes*

self care skills for kids by age

Self-Care Skills from 18 months- 2 year old Child

  1. Undress pants/shorts
  2. Explore how to dress self (shirts tend to get stuck!)
  3. Put own pajamas into drawer
  4. Take off and stow away shoes
  5. Wash face and hands (may need help)
  6. Comb or brush own hair (finish up with help)
  7. Hang up coat (provide hook that is accessible)
  8. Serve self a snack from a shared plate onto own bowl or plate
  9. Explore using a napkin
  10. Explore pouring water from pitcher into own glass
  11. Explore how to wipe up spills
  12. Put trash into waste bin
  13. Play alone for 15-40 minutes*self care for children by age

Self-Care Skills for 3 year old Child

  1. Dress self (may need some help, esp. with buttons & zippers)
  2. Practice using Snaps, zippers and buttons
  3. Explore what weather appropriate clothing means
  4. Put on shoes (it’s helpful to avoid laces)
  5. Explore taking shower alone (Supervised)
  6. Hang up own towel (make sure hook is height accessible)
  7. Put away a few items of clothes from a laundry basket
  8. Explore how to make own bed
  9. Explore basic cooking (measuring, pouring, mixing)
  10. Pour glass of water/milk/juice from a pitcher (see next!)
  11. Wipe up own spills (helps to keep towels stored where child can reach)
  12. Get a snack from the pantry (Try to keep healthy choices in reach)
  13. Use a napkin at the table
  14. Learn part of own address (Town and own last name)
  15. Help set table (give choice of one responsibility such as napkin buddy or place mat setter)
  16. Remove own plate from table
  17. Explore using the kitchen sink to rinse fruits/veggies/cups
  18. Play alone for up to one hour*

Self-Care Skills for 4 year old child

  1. Continue practicing skills from the 2 and 3 year list above
  2. Explore washing hair alone in shower (may need help to complete)
  3. Explore more cooking skills (cracking eggs alone, making simple sandwich, cutting banana slices)
  4. Learn house phone number
  5. Learn own address
  6. Set / remove own place setting at table
  7. Learn a bit about how to work the washing machineself care skills kids

Self-Care Skills for 5 year old child

  1. Dress independently (may still wish for help, but in general capable of doing alone)
  2. Brush hair independently
  3. Brush teeth independently
  4. Shower independently (may still need assistance with hair washing)
  5. Use toilet brush
  6. Replace toilet paper roll if finished
  7. Understand and choose weather appropriate clothing
  8. Explore tying laced shoes
  9. Explore what a balanced meal contains
  10. Use the kitchen sink with confidence to wash fruits, veggies, plates, cups
  11. Learn how to use microwave (with supervision)
  12. Explore more cooking skills (peeling vegetables with supervision, chopping ingredients with safe knife)
  13. Learn how to place item in oven using mitts (with adult nearby)
  14. Learn about emergency numbers (how to dial for police & fire)

Self Care Skills Develop Over Time

Children are unique and reach the ability to complete these skills at different paces, these lists are meant as helpful guidelines. Allowing children to explore these skills, possibly fail and try again usually is the route to true learning.

self care skills by age for children

Balance Self Care with Cooperation and Your Participation

Finding the balance between giving freedom for children to learn and swooping in to the rescue is tricky at times.  Try to trust your child and their own learning process.

It is amazing just how much children can do, as most two year old’s would say “All by ME self!”  Just make sure that your child doesn’t feel pressured to do too much on their own too soon.

*Independent play is a really important self-care skills, like any other skill, children reach this at varied ages so the time one child may play alone is different from another.

Having nearby supervision but not interference is the goal here. Children make amazing discoveries when immersed in independent play. (More about that from Janet Lansbury here)

You will see the most success with self care skills by using encouraging language,  remembering to keep your expectations age appropriate and being supportive.

Peace & Be Well,


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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a Masters in Psychology and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, and one cuddly dog.

12 Responses to Giant List of Self-Care Skills for Babies,Toddlers and Preschoolers

  1. This is wonderful: so appropriate and timely. Something as simple as playing alone is so valuable. And learning to look after oneself and working together builds self esteem .. that they can make a difference. Little steps takes us far.

  2. Great list! Thank you so much. This is a beautiful reminder to invite and allow and then invite and allow again. Very aligned with the Montessori philosophy too!

  3. Shelly,
    Thank you so much for stopping by. I love how you put it, inviting and allowing, and then doing it all over again! I attended a Montessori based school as a child/teen, it def. spills into my parenting practice!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  4. Hello Ms. Ariadne Brill, I would like to ask permission if its okay with you that i will use your list of self-help skills for my thesis. I will be using it to create research instrument which is a survey checklist.

    I am hoping for your kind approval, God bless.

  5. Thank you for replying to my message but unfortunately i haven’t received your email yet when i checked my mail. I think maybe its a little delayed. I’m hoping if its okay with you to resend it? Thank you!

  6. This is an awesome list! Kids have the potential to do so much more to care for themselves and learn responsibilty. Parents these days have become so lazy with having their children contribute. Nice!

  7. Ms. Ariande do you have a Facebook account?
    I really haven’t gotten you reply if i could use your list of self-help skills so i was thinking that in Facebook i could surely get it.

    Can i ask for your e-mail address in Facebook so i could add you? Thanks!

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