40+ Things to Do With a One Year Old

Trying to figure out a few things to do with a one year old? At this age, your baby is mobile, even if not yet walking, and curious as a monkey. If you’re not sure what things to do with a one year old, we’re here to help! Here are a whold lot of fun things to do with a one year old.

Simple Things to Do with a One Year Old

Sometimes the simplest things are the best. These activities require virtually no prep and nothing special. You can start right now!

Image via Learn With Play at Home

1.Roll things down a ramp. Rolling is fun and a ramp is super simple to whip up. This post tells you how to transform a book into a ramp for your baby to roll balls and cars down.

2. Make some noise! Get out those pots and pans and show your little one how to bang on them with wooden spoons. It’s noisy, but kids love noise and this activity is guaranteed to keep your munchkin occupied for a bit.

3. Fill up a basket with goodies. Kids don’t care much about fancy toys at this age, so why not make a discovery basket full of random items from around the house? Your baby will love pulling the things out and examining them and you can put it together in seconds. This is a trick I used with all my boys when they were small. You can learn more about discovery baskets here.

4. Splash in water. Babies tend to love water, so fill up a basin with a couple of inches, drop in some spoons and measuring cups and let your little one have at it. This is best done outdoors, but you can spread a towel on the floor inside, too.

5. Put stickers on a piece of paper. This is an activity that requires plenty of concentration and will let your little one really focus on those fine motor skills. These stickers are perfect for tiny fingers.

6. Build an obstacle course. This can be as simple as putting cushions on the floor for baby to climb over, or you can make a few tunnels with sheets and chairs and add some extra obstacles. Then encourage your little one to go through course to get to you.

7. Put straws into a bottle. Grab a water bottle and cut some straws in half. Then let your toddler put the straws into the bottle. This takes some major coordination for little kids, so it can be a great way to keep your child busy while you’re prepping dinner.

8. Move the balls. Have a muffin tin or two in your house? Add some balls or even little toys that your child enjoys and you have the makings of a simple, yet intriguing game for toddlers.

9. Paint with water. Love painting, but hate the mess? Let your little one paint with water instead! All you need is a container for the water and a paintbrush, any size. Your tot can paint on colored paper or the wall or patio and watch the color change and darken with the water. Best of all, it will dry and can be painted all over again!

10. Paint inside a Ziplock. Another great, mess-free way to paint is with a Ziploc bag. This post explains how to make it work for you and how to create some really pretty art for your fridge.

11. Talk into a tube. Save a paper towel tube and show your little one how to talk through it. This can bring hours of fun!

12. Sing a song. Remember those fun rhymes and songs you used to sing as a child? Now is a great time to teach your child some of those. Don’t worry if you can’t remember many, though, there are plenty of YouTube videos to help you recall. Here are a few to get you started.

13. Run sprints. Have your toddler run from one end of the room to the other. This is a great way to burn off some energy on a rainy day, too. If they’re not walking yet, have them crawl back and forth.

14. Roll a ball. A large ball is perfect for batting, so blow up a beach ball and gently roll it back and forth with your little one.

15. Read a book together. Books are a terrific activity for babies and older kiddos, so pull out those board books and cloth books and start reading. Make it interactive by asking your toddler to point out certain things in the story.

Outdoor Activities for One Year Olds

Heading outside is a fun way to engage your baby and teach them about the world. It’s also good to get out of the house sometimes, both for your own sanity and your child’s.

1. Touch the leaves. Look for different types of leaves to touch and examine. Talk about how they feel and the textures and colors. Look for smooth and fuzzy leaves, as well as stiff and soft ones.

2. Make a tinfoil river. A quick and easy way to create a water play space outside, whetehr you have a yard or just a sidewalk requires nothing more than some tinfoil and water. See how to do it here.

3. Super bubble play. Add half a cup of baby shampoo to a gallon of water and use your mixer to beat up some fluffy bubbles. Scoop the bubbles into a bucket or basin and let your little one enjoy splatting and smushing the foam. You can always beat up more bubbles once the first ones fade.

4. Dig a hole. Hand your tot a baby shovel or a spoon and let them dig in the dirt. It’s a fun way to explore the world around them. If you dare, add a little water and let your child enjoy some mud.

5. Run an obstacle course. Set up a simple obstacle course with items for your child to crawl over and under. This particular activity can also be done indoors, but it’s especially fun on grass.

6. Set up the sprinkler. Water play is a lot of fun for kids of all ages, so set up the sprinkler and run through it with your little one. While this is one of those things to do with a one year old, it actually works for any age, so you can make it a family thing.

7. Paint the house. Give your baby a bucket of water and a paintbrush and let them paint the side of the house. The water will dry quickly, but it gives the impression of changing color when it wets the wood or siding. This also works on concrete pads and wooden decks.

8. Draw with a stick. Smooth out a part of the sandbox or even a flower bed and let your little one use a stick to poke holes and draw. You can draw alongside them and encourage them to drag the stick to make a line.

9. Watch animals and birds. Head to a duck pond to watch the ducks floating along, or find a place to keep an eye on some other animals. Zoos are fun, but you can find plenty of opportunities to critter watch in parks, too.

Fun 1 Year Old Activities That Require a Bit of Prep

These aren’t instantly ready, but they’re still fun enough to warrant putting a bit of work into them.

Image via Views from a Stepstool

1.Create a sandbox. This baby safe “sand” is easy to make with two ingredients and can be played with indoors or out! Just fill up a plastic bin and let your little one dig in. This is one of our favorite things to do with a one year old.

2. Baby safe finger paints. Make your own fingerpaints with cornstarch and water, plus a couple of other ingredients you already have at home. While not meant to be eaten, this paint is safe if your little one does get it in their mouth.

3. Make peanut butter playdough. Ever had peanut butter balls? This concept uses the same ingredients to make fun playdough that your little one can eat as they go, without any side effects. Obviously, this is not for homes with allergies. Get the recipe here.

4. Paint with pudding. Those instant puddings you buy in a box may not be too healthy, but they do make wonderful paints for children who are likely to put their fingers in their mouths. Read more on the pudding painting method here.

5. Make a cardboard tunnel. Have some cardboard boxes kicking around? If not, you can usually get them from the supermarket. Open up the tops and bottoms and tape them together with other boxes to create a tunnel. A couple of boxes will make a fun tunnel for a one year old, but if you make it three or four boxes long, you’ll keep them happy for ages!

6. Turn old toilet paper tubes into a baby play station. This is a very simple way to keep your little one occupied and while it does require some initial set up, it can be used for days on end. Here’s how to do it.

7. Make a Velcro pom-pom toy. The prep required for this activity is minimal, but you do need some sticky backed Velcro and a bunch of pom-poms. Teach Me Mommy has the instructions on this fun activity for one year olds.

8. Sticky contact paper fun. Use masking tape to tape a piece of contact paper sticky side up. Give your tot pieces of colored paper, pom poms, etc. and let them stick them to the contact paper.

9. Ice cube play. Make a tray of ice cubes, adding a drop of food coloring to the water. Several different colors can be made so your little one can mix and match. Dump out a couple of cubes at a time into a baking tin and let your baby play with the ice as it melts. Be careful though, since the colors can stain.

10. Washi tape peeling.  Use washi tape or masking tape and criss cross several pieces (preferably of different colors) on a surface like the fridge or a window. Your little one will have a blast peeling each piece off. This activity also foments logical thinking, since the top pieces need to come off first.

11. Velcro shape matching. Draw some shapes on paper or cardboard and add Velcro, then trace around them on a board and add Velcro to this to allow for attaching the shapes. Sticky backed Velcro dots make this very easy to do.

12. Create shapes for pattern matching. Teach your little one to match up shapes with this simple activity for one year olds from No Time for Flashcards.

Sensory Things to Do with a One Year Old

One year olds love to get their hands into things and feel new textures. That’s the point of these things to do with a one year old.

Image via Paging Fun Moms

1.Tape a gel bag to a window. These simple bags are easy to make with leftover hair gel and random items from around the house, but they’re very popular with the younger set!

2. Create a themed sensory bin. These are just bins or bowls that are filled with a base material like rice, beans or pasta and then have other fun stuff added to them. You can learn more about sensory bins for toddlers here.

3. Make a sensory bag. If you prefer to avoid the mess, a sensory bag is the perfect way to let your child feel different textures without the disaster. Views from a Stepstool has some fun ideas on baby sensory bags and Messy Little Monster shows you how to make them with a laminator, if you have one (if not, use Ziploc bags taped off).

4. Fill a sensory bottle. Bottles are another great way to put together a fun activity without it being too messy. In this case, the sense being used is mostly sight, but your baby will still love it. Essentially, you put a bunch of items into a bottle and let your child shake and roll it to see the items. You can use oil or water to fill the bottle and drop in glitter and pom poms, or you can add solid stuff like rice or beans and then hide tiny toys, sequins and other things in it. Be sure to glue the lid closed! Here’s a fun farm themed sensory bottle.

5. Make some gloop. Your toddler will enjoy playing with this fun mixture. Just mix equal parts water and cornstarch and pour into a bowl. The unique properties of the mixture make it extra fascinating for toddlers, making it one of the best things to do with a one year old.

6. Squish water beads in a bag. Soak the water beads overnight and put them into a Ziploc bag. Let your child squish the beads one by one on a a table or the floor. You can also tape the bag up in a window.

7. Color and play spaghetti. While most mothers may cringe at this idea, it’s actually very good for keeping kids busy and happy. Just make up a batch of spaghetti and add a couple drops of food coloring to the drained pasta. Toss and put it in a bowl or bin. You may want to do this in the tub or outside, to prevent too much mess.

What are your favorite things to do with a one year old?

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