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

Giving children a chance to practice self-care skills is a fantastic way to help them feel capable and increase their self-esteem. It helps create a great sense of autonomy, a drive to learn and grow. Self-care is also an opportunity for children to feel in charge of their body and know that they are trusted by their parents.

Here is a list of Self-Care Skills for Children From Crawlers to 5 years sorted by Age:

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

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

Self-Care Skills from 12-18 months


Continue all of the above plus

Wash hands (may need help)
Brush Teeth (followed up with help)
Start exploring how to undress self
Start exploring how to take off-put on shoes
Start exploring how to use hair brush
Choose own outfit (offer limited choices)
Explore how to drink from open cup
Explore how to eat alone with child safe spoon/fork
Play alone for 10 -30 minutes*

Self-Care Skills from 18 months- 2 year olds

Continue all of the above plus
Undress pants/shorts
Explore how to dress self (shirts tend to get stuck!)
Put own pajamas into drawer
Take off and stow away shoes
Wash face and hands (may need help)
Comb or brush own hair (finish up with help)
Hang up coat (provide hook that is accessible)
Serve self a snack from a shared plate onto own bowl or plate
Explore using a napkin
Explore pouring water from pitcher into own glass
Explore how to wipe up spills
Put trash into trash can
Play alone for 15-40 minutes*

Self-Care Skills for 3 year olds

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

Play alone for up to one hour*

parenting class toddler

Self-Care Skills for 4 year olds

All of the skills from 1,2 & 3 years plus
Explore washing hair alone in shower (may need help to complete)
Explore more cooking skills (cracking eggs alone, making simple sandwich, cutting banana slices)
Learn house phone number
Learn own address
Set / remove own place setting at table
Learn a bit about how to work the washing machine

Self-Care Skills for 5 year olds

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


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. Finding the balance between giving freedom for children to learn and swooping in to the rescue is tricky at times but when we trust the process  it’s really amazing just how much children can do, as my two year old would say “All by ME self!” In our family we have had the most success with motivating self-care by using encouragement, remembering to keep our expectations age appropriate and being supportive.

What does your child enjoy doing all by him/her self?

Peace & Be Well,


*  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. Read more about that from Janet Lansbury here!

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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 B.S. in Communication, is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and has completed several graduate courses in child development, psychology and family counseling. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

10 thoughts on “Giant List of Self-Care Skills for Babies,Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • ariadne

      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.

  • Joyce Pauline

    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.

  • Joyce Pauline

    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!

  • 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!

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