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What To Do With a One Year Old All Day

Sometimes I feel bad for my one year old because she is the youngest of four children. I often wonder if she’s missing out on some of the one on one time I had with my older kids. At the same time, I’m grateful that my children have siblings to grow up with.

One year old is a fun age, but also challenging in new ways since they aren’t babies anymore. She is learning to move around and explore the world around her, but still relies on me for everything. If you’re wondering what to do with a one year old all day, I’m going to share some helpful suggestions. 

What To Do With A One Year Old All Day

When it comes to planning activities for what to do with a one year old, I like to keep things simple. As you know, a one year old has a very short attention span, so I’m all about little prep and using materials that you already have around your home. You can turn almost anything into a fun activity for your little ones. 

Read books

Reading developmentally appropriate books is a great way to pass the time and foster an early love of literacy. One year old’s love books that they can interact with, so look for books that have peek a boo flaps, textured pictures, sound effects, etc.  These books introduce important words to help grow their vocabulary. Some books perfect for this age group are:

  • Where’s Spot?: Eric Hill
  • Amazing Animals!: Mark Rader
  • Where is Baby’s Belly Button?: Karen Katz
  • Baby Touch and Feel Animals: Discovery kids

Young children love the repetition and predictability that comes with early learning books. Before you know it, they’ll be reciting the books to you. For my favorite toddler books, check out this post. 

Arts and Crafts

There are lots of great ideas for art projects, even for this young age. Large crayons, finger paint and playdough are both items that they’ll love to play with. These are also helpful for fine motor skills. Even though they won’t be able to do much with something like play dough, they’ll enjoy feeling the soft and squishy texture in their hands.

If a messy art project is not your thing, you can put paint inside a zip lock bag and let your child smash it around with their hands. They’ll have so much fun mixing the colors and you won’t have anything to clean up besides a paper towel or two!

Imaginary Play 

Your one year old may be standing up or even walking, which means they are extra curious about things around the house. They may not really start engaging in imaginary play until around 18 months or later, but they’ll still be interested in exploring things and pretending.

If you have a play kitchen, your one year old will likely love to open and shut the doors and take items on and off the shelf. They may even enjoy playing with a baby doll. These are all developmentally appropriate activities for 1 year. 

Make Music

Sounds are magical to young children. You can make music out of all kinds of objects around your house. Gather pots and pans and other kitchen utensils and place them in the middle of your living room. Your one year old will have a blast! You can also find a cute instrument kit like this on Amazon. It has a ton of fun instruments they can shake, tap, beat, and blow into. 

Sensory Activities

You don’t have to have a fancy sensory table to do sensory play. All you really need is a large storage container and something to put in it. Some suggestions are:

  • sand
  • spaghetti (you can add food coloring to make it extra fun and bright)
  • soap and water
  • water beads
  • rice
  • seeds
  • feathers
  • ice cubes

Sensory play is good for motor skills, it helps build nerve connections in the brain, increases language development, and is found to help induce a sense of calm.  It also sparks the opportunity to discuss your senses. What does it feel like? Look like? Smell like? You can talk to your one year old about these questions. as they play and learn at the same time. 

Build a tower (stack cups or blocks)

Have you ever watch a young child stack something on top of each other and watch it fall down? They think it’s so funny! Use blocks, stacking cups, or even pillows to build a tower. Then let your one year one knock it over and repeat. 

Puzzles

Puzzles are another great activity to develop motor skills, problem solving, and vocabulary. You would be surprised how quickly young kids catch on to simple puzzles. Start with puzzles that have large shapes and pictures.

If you have a public library near you, they usually have some great early learning puzzles in the kids section that are often available to check out. There are also several options to choose from on Amazon. 

Contact Paper Collage

This is a super simple activity that I’ve seen floating around Instagram. You’ll need clear contact paper, tape, and any kind of craft item such as construction paper or pom poms. 

  1. Tape the contact paper to the wall sticky side out
  2. Let your child stick the construction paper and pom poms wherever they’d like onto the contact paper

You’ll have a no-mess quick activity that you can set up and take down whenever you’d like.

Go for a Walk

Sometimes getting outside is the best activity of all. If you’re having a day where you’re wondering what to do with a one year old all day, start by going for a walk. Point out things you see along the way like trees, birds, squirrels, cars, and clouds.

I think getting fresh air at least once a day is necessary for everyone and good for your physical and mental health.

So as you can see, there are several things you can do at home with your toddler that also transition into toddler activities as well. Even though they seem very simple and repetitive to us, these activities help with child development in so many ways. If you’re looking for developmentally appropriate toys for kids by age group, head to this post.

Does your one year old have a favorite activity? Let me know in the comments!

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