20 toddler activities: The best games to play with a 12-month-old baby

Posted in Learning and Development.

How do you play with a 12-month-old baby? It’s really, really easy – and super rewarding! Let’s lift the lid on the best baby games for one-year-olds!

The best games to play with a 12-month-old baby

1. Stack it up

Coloured blocks create opportunities to refine their motor skills, talk about colours and work cooperatively. And also blocks are heaps of fun! Build them up. Knock them down. Count them. Sort them.

2. Peek-a-boo

Just like six-month-old babies, 1-year-olds love the familiar fun that a game of peek-a-boo offers. Use your hands to hide your face and peek out … or hold a scarf or tea towel over your face and (gently!) surprise your baby that way.

3. Finger painting

Pop your baby in their high chair with a splodge of non-toxic paint on the high chair tray, and watch them get creative! It’s a good idea to have the bath at the ready after this activity – and supervise any other children around water – so you can tidy your baby up quickly.

How to play with a one year old

4. Back to nature

Take your baby outside and launch a beginners class in the natural world. Get chatting about the trees, leaves, insects, flowers, birds and clouds. Or if you’re in a more urban environment you can spot trains, bikes, buses and passers-by. 

5. Storytime

It’s never too early to read to your child, and they’ll reap the rewards via a head start when it comes to literacy. Reading also provides time to slow down, be mindful and snuggle up. And who wouldn’t want to do that?!

6. Fridge box tunnel

Ask your local electrical goods shop for one of their big appliance boxes, and get ready for lots of fun play opportunities. Your child can crawl through it, sit in it, load it up with favourite toys, decorate it … the sky’s the limit with this old fashioned fun.

How to play with a one year old

7. Crayons and paper

Hooray! Your child’s old enough to be armed with some non-toxic crayons and a giant piece of paper. Just be sure to supervise crayon play to ensure that your baby doesn’t spend most of their time eating the crayons.

8. Sticker art

More creative play, this time with sheets of stickers and a big piece of paper instead. Show your baby how to peel the stickers from the backing sheet and pop them on the paper. You could even make your own wrapping paper this way.

9. Spaghetti adventures

Cook up some spaghetti, rinse under cold water to cool it down and then pop your baby in her high chair with a handful of the play pasta on the high chair tray. It’s heaps of fun to play with and the odd mouthful or two won’t do any harm either.

10. Shaving cream mash-up

Pop a few drops of food colouring into each corner of a zip lock back, squirt some shaving into the middle of the bag and then seal tightly. Put your baby in her high chair and then give her the bag, showing her how to squish the colour and shaving cream together. (Remember to supervise your bub, just in case they cleverly manage to wrangle the bag open though!)

How to play with a one year old

11. Mirror play

Babies love mirrors. If you have a large mirror at your place – perhaps on a wardrobe door? – put your little one in front of it and show her how to pull faces, clap hands and high five at her reflection. You could also try putting on hats and scarves in front of the mirror.

12. Water play

Water is so much fun to play with. You can fill a tub and head outside with some toys, plastic dishes and utensils. Or you can head to the bathroom and get into some water play in a warm bath. Remember children must be supervised around water at all times. Even if it’s just a tiny bit of water.

13. Shake it up

Gather up some clean, empty plastic soft drink bottles and fill them with beans, rice, chickpeas …. whatever you have in the pantry. You can decorate them with stickers or coloured tape, or leave them as is … and get shaking!

14. Let’s pretend

Baby’s first social skills are developed partly by interacting with the people around them and partly by practising those skills during playtime with toys. Dolls, teddies and toy characters are all brilliant options when it comes to fostering this important kind of play.

How to play with a one year old

15. Dress-ups

Dress-ups are heaps of fun for parents and babies, and they also provide an excellent ‘let’s pretend’ prompt. Try on different costumes together and encourage your little one to explore their new character and use their imagination.

16. Edible playdough

Playdough is a joy to make and even more fun to play with. At this age, babies might be keen to eat as much as they shape, but some guidance from a parent or carer – and offering some more interesting play doh-related activities – should sort that out.

17. Bubbles

As far as babies are concerned, bubbles defy logic and are in fact magic. Playing with bubbles is a great indoor or outdoor activity – just be careful not to blow bubbles into your babies face as the liquid can sting.

How to play with a one year old

18. Drum class

A bunch of upturned pots and plastic bowls, coupled with some plastic or wooden spoons = instant drum kit. Granted this is a noisy game, but sometimes babies need to let off some steam and get their metal on.

19. Counting games

It’s never too early to introduce those first concepts of numeracy, and counting with your baby is a great place to start. Count toys. Count books. Count fingers. Count toes. Read books about counting toes! 

20. Blanket forts

Introduce your child to all the adventures and imaginative play of blanket forts. Build a fort together in the living room and snuggle in it with a bunch of favourite toys. Read a book even? We love books!

What are you waiting for? Go play!


This article was originally published on November 12, 2019.


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