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50 Developmentally Appropriate Activities for 1-Year-Olds

Here are 50 ways to entertain your one-year-old and keep him/her busy!

Gone are the days when you could lie on the couch with your baby all day long. Around the age of one, babies are quickly turning into toddlers. With longer wake windows and more curiosity, it’s important to keep them engaged in activities that encourage their development.

We have 50 activities for 1-year-olds to keep them entertained and learning various skills. Whether you want to advance their gross motor skills, language or encourage play, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ll share what you need and how to approach each activity. Soon, you’ll have loads of ideas for how to keep your little one busy between naps!

Key Takeaways

  • Entertain with a busy board: Attach various items like zippers, latches, and wheels to a wooden board for fine motor skill development.
  • Encourage musical creativity: Provide pots, pans, spoons, and toy drums for your child to make music and improve coordination.
  • Create a drop box: Use an empty tissue box and give your child items to slot into the top for a quick and easy activity.
  • Stacking cups: Offer plastic cups for stacking and knocking over to improve visual and motor skills, and color coordination.

50 Activities for 1-Year-Olds

Entertaining a one-year-old can be tricky. We’ve been there! That’s why we’ve put together a list of 50 ideas, so you’re sure to find a few that work brilliantly for your child.

1. Busy Board

What You’ll Need

  • Wooden board (MDF fiberboard works).
  • Drill.
  • Screws.
  • Screwdriver.
  • Liquid glue.
  • Zippers.
  • Latches.
  • Doorknobs.
  • Handles.
  • Wheels.
  • Shoelace strings.
  • And more busy board items!

A busy board will entertain your child and build their fine motor skills. You can attach anything to a busy board before propping it up somewhere safe and letting your child explore. If you can’t make your own busy board, you can buy them online.

2. Making Music

What You’ll Need

  • Pots.
  • Pans.
  • Spoons.
  • Rattles.
  • Musical instruments.
  • Toy drums.

Our little one loved making music around this age! Whether you buy them a musical instrument made for toddlers or let them DIY the beats using kitchen utensils, either will improve their coordination and experimentation with music.

3. Drop Box

What You’ll Need

  • Empty tissue box.
  • Items to drop in the box like crayons, playing cards, or toys.

This activity is super easy to quickly prepare when you need to unload the dishwasher or make a phone call. Empty out a tissue box and give your child items to slot into the top. Just ensure the items aren’t too small — no choking hazards, please!

4. Stacking Cups

What You’ll Need

  • Plastic cups.

You can use plastic cups you already have in the house or buy specific stacking cup toys. At this age, toddlers will enjoy experimenting with the shapes, stacking them up, and knocking them over. This improves visual and motor skills and color coordination, and it’s just plain old fun!

5. Rubber Duck Painting

What You’ll Need

  • A few rubber duck toys.
  • Paper.
  • Paint.
  • Painting apron.

Does your little one love rubber ducks? Our toddler didn’t let go of his rubber duck for months. You can turn this into a painting activity by providing paint and paper. Prop your child in their highchair with a painting apron and let them dip the duck into the paint. Then they can dot the duck onto the paper, creating abstract art!

6. Ball Pit

What You’ll Need

A ball pit will delight most one-year-olds, so you can’t go wrong with this idea! Once they get older, you can use the balls to teach colors and play matching games.

Top Tip

You need a few hundred balls to ensure the pit is deep. We bought 100 balls for our ball pit, and it barely covered the floor surface area! 400 to 500 is best.

7. Homemade Play Dough

What You’ll Need

  • Large pot.
  • Spoon.
  • Wax paper.
  • Two cups of all-purpose flour.
  • ¾ cup of salt.
  • Four teaspoons of cream of tartar.
  • Two cups of lukewarm water.
  • Two tablespoons of vegetable or coconut oil.
  • Food coloring (optional).

Since kids can’t play with Play-Doh until they’re two, you can make your own from scratch. If they take a bite, it won’t harm them. This is best for 15 months onwards and will improve your child’s finger strength, imagination, and fine motor skills.

8. Interactive Storytime

What You’ll Need

  • Books.
  • Props to go along with the book.

Simple storytelling is always a good plan. But you can make it more exciting by turning it into an interactive experience. That might mean getting props to go along with the book or asking your 1-year-old what sound the various animals in the book make!

9. Sticker Books

What You’ll Need

  • Sticker book.
  • Stickers.

At this age, your little one has probably perfected their pincer grip. Give them a fun challenge by exploring sticker books together! Just make sure you’re always nearby in case they put stickers in their mouth.

10. Scooping Station

What You’ll Need

  • Activity table or buckets.
  • Spoons.
  • Taste-safe items like Cheerios or oats.
  • Toys to put in the food.

Set up a scooping station for your one-year-old. This is best closer to 18 months, but your child can experiment at any time. The idea is they learn to scoop the items from one bucket or tray to another, developing their fine motor skills and concentration.

11. Egg Carton Straw Puzzle

What You’ll Need

  • Empty egg carton
  • Straws or cotton buds.
  • Knife.

Use a knife to poke holes in the bottom of an egg carton. Then give your toddler straws or cotton buds to poke through the holes. This tricky activity will challenge their little minds and improve hand-eye coordination!

12. Call a Friend

What You’ll Need

By now, your little one is probably super curious about the phone. Play pretend by making phone calls to everyone they love, their favorite animals and characters. If you make silly voices and have a toy phone of your own to make calls back, they will absolutely love this!

12. Drive and Drop

What You’ll Need

  • Cardboard box.
  • Scissors.
  • Toy cars.

Does your little one love cars? Turn it into an interactive game by cutting out a slot in a cardboard box. Let your little one drive the car along the box before dropping it into the hole. This activity is fantastic for encouraging pretend play, building small hand muscles, and working on independent play.

13. Fridge Magnets

What You’ll Need

  • Magnets.
  • Paper (optional).

If you don’t like building projects, here’s a more straightforward idea.

The first time our son discovered magnets, he was mesmerized! He was kept busy for almost two hours. Let your little one explore fridge magnets and what they can and can’t stick to. Give them some paper to try and hang up, too. This is a fun extra challenge for them!

14. Jumbo Puzzles

What You’ll Need

  • Thick paper.
  • Crayons or pens.
  • Scissors.
  • Or buy a jumbo puzzle.

You can buy jumbo puzzles (we recommend starting with 4-piece puzzles) or make your own. Draw something recognizable — like a ball or rubber duck — on a piece of thick paper or cardboard.

Cut it into two pieces and let your toddler put them back together. Once they get the hang of it, cut it into three pieces, then four, and so forth!

15. Peekaboo Puzzle

What You’ll Need

  • Wooden peg puzzle.
  • Photographs your baby will love (maybe their favorite family members).
  • Glue.
  • Scissors.

Cut out photos, making them line up with each individual shape on the peg puzzle. Then glue them down to the board, covering them up with the various wooden shapes. Give the puzzle to your toddler and watch them be amazed when they reveal grandma’s face!

16. Muffin Tin Sorting

What You’ll Need

  • Muffin tins.
  • Another plastic container.
  • Items for the muffin tins, such as pom pom balls, toy food, or cupcake liners.

Muffin tins are fantastic for letting your child work on their organizational skills. Our little one loves putting the cupcake liners in the various slots. But you could give your child some pretend fruit to organize. Encourage them to have one row for orange items, one for green, and so on!

17. Nature Walk

What You’ll Need

  • Appropriate footwear.
  • Outdoor clothes.
  • A stroller or sling.

Who says you need to stay at home for these activities?

Now that your little one is on their way to toddling, getting outside in nature is a lovely way to pass the time. It will also blossom their love for the outdoors.

Bring a stroller or sling in case they don’t like wandering themselves. But the first time they can roam around the forest, picking up sticks or playing in the dirt will be a magical experience for them.

18. Clean Up

What You’ll Need

  • Containers for toys.
  • Cloths.
  • Broom.
  • Pretend vacuum.

Encourage your little one to help clean up. Put on the “Clean Up” song and show them how to put the various toys away. Once the room is tidy, they can help with sweeping, dusting, or pretending to vacuum! If your little one is in a daycare setting often, they might already be a pro at this.

19. Flashlight Hunt

What You’ll Need

  • Flashlight.

Dim the lights and give your little one a flashlight. Once they have figured out how to turn it on, show them how to shine it on various objects. Each time they illuminate something, state the name of it to help strengthen their vocabulary.

20. Ziploc Painting (Mess Free)

What You’ll Need

  • Ziploc bag.
  • Paper.
  • Paint.
  • Tape.

Do you want to encourage your 1-year-old’s art skills but also want to avoid mess? This is the perfect activity to try. Put a piece of paper or canvas inside a Ziploc bag. Pour some paint onto the canvas or paper and secure the Ziploc bag.

Tape it to a surface or window and let your toddler use their fingers to move the paint around. Once they’re done, take the paper out, let it dry, and marvel at your toddler’s masterpiece!

21. Water Play

What You’ll Need

  • Activity table or sink.
  • Water.
  • Water-safe toys, spoons, and cups.

This is a splashing activity for little ones! Fill a sink or activity table with water, dump in a bunch of toys, spoons, and cups, and let your child explore what they can do. You can make up games to show them, too, such as does it float or does it sink?


Make sure you supervise them at all times when they are playing with water. Even though it’s just shallow water, it’s crucial you’re always nearby in case of emergencies.

22. Clothespinning

What You’ll Need

  • Clothespins.
  • Paper rolls.

Attach some clothespins to a few paper rolls and give them to your child. They can experiment with removing all the clothespins. They might be too young to put them back on, but they can try putting them through the tube, then collecting them into a bowl. Then you can put them back on the paper roll and begin again!

23. Sock Puppets

What You’ll Need

  • Old socks.
  • Arts and crafts supplies (like buttons, googly eyes, and fabric).
  • Glue.
  • Needle and thread.

While your child is asleep, prepare sock puppets. You can add hair, googly eyes, and felt lipstick. You can simply use plain socks if you’re not crafty (like me!). Your child will still love it.

When telling them a story the next day, use the sock puppet to act out the scenes. Your child might also want to try wearing the sock puppet, which can be hilarious.

24. Sound Sensory Jars

What You’ll Need

  • Old plastic containers.
  • Popcorn kernels.
  • Water.
  • Coins.
  • Cereal.
  • Rocks.
  • Other items for the jars.

Fill up some old plastic containers with various items — like water, coins, beads, and more. Make sure the jar is secure, so your one-year-old can’t open it. Let them shake the jars and enjoy the various sounds they hear. Once they get older, you can shake it for them and ask them to guess what is inside the jar!

25. Sensory Bags

What You’ll Need

  • Ziploc bags.
  • Duct tape.
  • Regular tape.
  • Liquids.
  • Gels.
  • Sensory textures.
  • Toys.
  • Paint.
  • More items for inside the bags!

Sensory bags are tons of fun for one-year-olds, but they also work for babies and older toddlers. Fill a heavy-duty bag with various items, like gel, liquid, confetti, and more. Squeeze all the air out of the bag (so it doesn’t pop) and zip it shut. Secure the opening with duct tape. Then tape the bags to a window, wall, or floor and let your little one explore.

26. Make a Sticky Wall

What You’ll Need

  • Clear contact paper.
  • Tape.

Tape clear contact paper to a wall with the sticky side facing out. We recommend doing this outside so that the tape doesn’t peel off interior paint, but it does work indoors too!

Give your toddler the challenge of finding some objects and sticking them to the paper. Even if they’re too young to find objects, they will enjoy sticking random things to the paper and pulling them off again!

27. Obstacle Crawl

What You’ll Need

  • Objects they can crawl under or over.
  • Tunnels.
  • Cardboard boxes.

Indoors or outdoors, you can create an obstacle crawl for your one-year-old that isn’t yet walking. Use tunnels and tents to challenge them. If you don’t have a tunnel, create your own with old cardboard boxes.

28. Visit a Play Area

What You’ll Need

  • Grippy socks.

If you have a one-year-old, you’ll understand the importance of getting out of the house from time to time. At this age, your little one will love exploring play areas. Look for one local to you suitable for crawlers and toddlers. Make sure you pack grippy socks to minimize accidents and trips!

29. Water the Plants

What You’ll Need

  • Child-friendly watering can.
  • Plants.
  • Towel for spills.

At this age, your child is learning they can do more than ever before. Our son was fascinated with pouring at this age. Give them a watering can and show them how to water plants inside and outside. Keep a towel nearby for the inevitable spills.

30. Spoon and Ball Transfer

What You’ll Need

  • Balls.
  • Large spoon.
  • Two buckets.

A spoon and ball transfer game is terrific for developing fine and gross motor skills. Fill a container with balls and give your one-year-old a large spoon. They can use the spoon to transfer the balls from one container to the other.

Place the two containers far apart from each other so your child can work on their walking and balancing skills. It might take them a while to figure it out, but they’ll have tons of fun once they get the hang of it.

31. Fetch Objects

What You’ll Need

  • A list of objects.

Once your child has figured out different words and is beginning to respond to directions, this is a great game. Ask them to fetch your various objects around the house, like their shoes, their water bottle, or a book.

32. Ball Drop

What You’ll Need

You can buy a drop ball tower toy or make your own using an old cylinder container (like that from a packet of disinfecting wipes) and toy balls. Let your toddler drop the ball into the container and watch as they improve their hand-eye coordination!

33. Paper Roll Slide

What You’ll Need

  • Toilet paper or paper towel rolls.
  • Tape.
  • Balls (like cotton balls or smaller toy balls).

When your little one is fast asleep, prepare this crafty game. Tape old paper rolls to the wall, making a chute. Use colorful tape to entice your child even more. When they wake up, show them how to drop a ball down the paper rolls. They will love this activity!


Anything that can fit inside a paper roll is considered a choking hazard at this age. So ensure they are always supervised when dropping the balls down the chute.

34. Washing Sensory Bin

What You’ll Need

  • Towel.
  • Activity table or large plastic container.
  • Water.
  • Child-safe soap.
  • Water-safe toys, like Duplo blocks.
  • Sponge or scrubbing brush.

As you’ll have seen, sensory activities are fantastic for this age. Most kids are used to water by now since they have many baths! Fill an activity table or large plastic container with soapy water and put some of their toys inside.

Give them a sponge or scrubbing brush and show them how to clean the toys. Don’t expect them to come out spotless, but hopefully, they can help with the dishes in time!

35. Visit the Playground

What You’ll Need

At the age of one, your little one will start to be intrigued by playgrounds. They’re too young to take full advantage of all the features, but they’ll love walking around and going on the swings. Take a first aid kit just in case of falls and scraped knees.

36. Toy Rescue

What You’ll Need

  • Plastic container.
  • Ribbons.
  • Toys.

Pop a few toys inside a plastic container. Wrap ribbons around the container and challenge your one-year-old to take toys out of the box through the gaps. This improves their hand-eye coordination, and it’s a super easy (and cheap) activity for parents to make.

37. Go To a Kid’s Concert

What You’ll Need

  • Ear defenders.
  • Changing bag.

You can’t take your child to an adult gig quite yet, but there are gigs for kids! Usually, these are outdoors, but there are great indoor options too. The artists will play kid-friendly songs, and your little one can bop around.

38. Hide and Seek (With Objects)

What You’ll Need

  • Objects to hide, such as a rubber duck or teddy bear.

This is a low-prep but engaging game for one-year-olds. Hide one of their favorite objects in silly places around the house. Start easy, like the corner of the room, then move to harder spots, like underneath a rug.

39. Shape Sorter

What You’ll Need

This toy is a classic for a reason. Your toddler can learn various colors and shapes and how to match items together. Not only does this encourage problem-solving skills, but it also helps with fine motor skills.

If you don’t want to buy a shape sorter toy, you can make your own by cutting shapes into a cardboard box. Make sure you have objects to fit through each hole.

40. Walk On Contact Paper

What You’ll Need

  • Clear contact paper.
  • Tape.

Tape down some contact paper on the floor and let your one-year-old walk or crawl across it. This gives the child an engaging activity to learn about their body and different textures. Some might not like it, but you can keep trying until they see the fun in it.

41. Card Slot Drop

What You’ll Need

  • Old cardboard container.
  • Scissors.
  • Deck of cards.

Cut a narrow hole in the top of an old cardboard container. Give your toddler a deck of cards and show them how to slot them through the box. This is an excellent activity for building fine motor skills and dexterity. Keep it set up in their play area for them to use repeatedly.

42. Sticky Note Peek-a-Boo

What You’ll Need

  • Sticky notes.
  • A book or photo album.

If your little one loves lifting flaps in books, put sticky notes over their favorite images in stories. Or better yet, put them over pictures in your photo album. They can lift the flap and see images of their parents, grandparents, and themself!

43. Rainbow Spaghetti

What You’ll Need

  • Cooked spaghetti.
  • A few bowls.
  • Food coloring.
  • Large container or bucket.
  • Waterproof toys.
  • Spoons and utensils.

This slippery and slimy activity is so much fun for little ones. Plus, if they decide to eat the spaghetti, it’s totally safe. Dye each portion of spaghetti a different color, dump it into a large container, and toss in a few waterproof toys — like bath toys or fridge magnets. Let your little one explore the spaghetti, working on their independent play and motor skills.

44. Reflection Play

What You’ll Need

  • A mirror.

Entertaining your one-year-old doesn’t need to be a massive challenge with hours of prep. Set them up in front of a mirror and let them explore their reflection and different body parts. Point out their eyes, nose, mouth, and ears, and soon enough, they’ll be able to do the same to you!

45. Ballon Sticky Wall

What You’ll Need

  • Contact paper.
  • Tape.
  • Various small balloons.

As you can tell from our list, contact paper is a great way to entertain one-year-olds! For this activity, stick some contact paper to the wall and blow up a few small balloons. Your little one will love sticking the balloons to the paper and taking them off again.

Try This

This activity also works with yarn. So cut up some pieces of thick yarn and show your toddler how to stick them to the paper.

46. Building Blocks

What You’ll Need

  • Building blocks.
  • A flat surface.

Every one-year-old should have a set of building blocks. Whether that’s Duplo blocks, Mega Bloks, or classic wooden blocks, this provides a great opportunity for open-ended and imaginative play.

47. Playing in Sprinklers

What You’ll Need

  • Swimwear (optional).
  • Garden hose.
  • Sprinkler or water bottle.

Have some fun in the sun with your little one. If the weather is warm, your one-year-old will enjoy playing in the back garden. Set up a sprinkler or make your own by securing your garden hose to a water bottle and poking a few holes in the bottle. This sprinkler is a bit tamer, too, which is great for introducing water play to your toddler.

48. Indoor Bowling

What You’ll Need

  • Bowling pins or plastic cups.
  • A ball.

Indoor bowling is a fantastic activity as it strengthens hand-eye coordination and gross motor skills. Set up some pins or plastic cups and give your child a ball to throw toward the pins. It might take a while for them to figure this physical activity out, but once they do, they should be able to play this game independently so you can get on with stuff around the house.

49. Edible Sand Sensory Activity

What You’ll Need

  • Crackers.
  • A food processor.
  • Toys.

When planning things to do for a 1-year-old, you must be cautious that they will put anything in their mouth. So regular sand isn’t best at this age. Instead, you can make your own edible sand by putting crackers into a food processor. Put the sand into a container with trucks, toys, and spoons — let your baby go wild!

50. Pretend Animal Play

What You’ll Need

  • Animal book.
  • Animal toys.

This is a fun age to start learning all about different animals. Go through an animal book or take down animal figurine toys. Teach your child all the different animal noises and what they all do, such as a dog licking its paw or a bird flapping its wings.

How To Choose an Activity for Your 1-Year-Old

It’s important you introduce a range of activities to encourage your child’s various skills. For instance, choose activities that help build their fine motor skills, gross motor skills, vocabulary, social skills, independence, dexterity, and focus. It’s also important that your child has a chance to work on sensory skills, which is why we have so many sensory-based activities.

To get going, start with any of our activity recommendations and see how your little one gets on. If they aren’t keen on gross motor skills, choose one that encourages different skills. Each time you choose an activity, make sure you’re working on all types of skills — for instance, don’t only choose sensory ones.

FAQs About Activities for 1-Year-Olds

How Can I Stimulate My 1-Year-Old’s Brain?

It’s important to encourage your child’s intellectual side. One massive piece of advice is to limit technology and screens during these crucial early years, as this can slow development (1).

The best thing you can do is talk with, play with, and nurture your baby. Pay attention to what they like and what interests them and plan activities around that.

Reading is another proven way to stimulate and educate your one-year-old. From books, they can learn about animals, words, and colors.

You should also choose age-appropriate toys. If you want a smart child, don’t choose toys made for older kids. Choose toys that are designed for one-year-olds — this includes building blocks, stacking cups, and stuffed animals.

Other ways to stimulate your child’s brain include:

  • Looking in the mirror.
  • Climbing.
  • Arts and crafts.
  • Playing outside.
  • Dancing.
  • Fine and gross motor skill activities.

Do 1-Year-Olds Get Bored?

Yes — one-year-olds can become bored. But studies show that it’s important to let your child feel bored sometimes, as this can lead to more imaginative and independent play (2). Don’t feel pressured to constantly entertain your child and plan new activities every day.

Sometimes, it’s enough to leave out some building blocks or a few books and let them figure out how to entertain themselves.

What Is a Good Routine for a 1-Year-Old?

Each child is different. Some one-year-olds are still taking two naps a day, whereas others have transitioned to one nap.

A good example of a daily routine might be:

  • 7:00 a.m.: Wake up.
  • 7:30 a.m.: Breakfast.
  • 8:00 a.m.: Get dressed.
  • 8:15 a.m.: Unstructured play.
  • 9:00 a.m.: Get outside for a walk.
  • 10:00 a.m.: Naptime.
  • 11:30 a.m.: Lunch.
  • 12:00 p.m.: Age-appropriate activity.
  • 1:30 p.m.: Nap time.
  • 3:00 p.m.: Grocery run, pick up older kids, visit a friend.
  • 4:30 p.m.: Independent play while you make dinner.
  • 5:30 p.m.: Dinner time.
  • 6:15 p.m.: Bathtime.
  • 6:45 p.m.: Pyjamas, book, milk.
  • 7:00 p.m.: Bedtime.

How Do I Keep My 1-Year-Old Busy at a Restaurant?

We take our little one out for a meal very often, starting from when he was only two weeks old! He has been a dream at restaurants, and that’s because we have figured out superb ways to keep him happy.

Our number one tip is to order their food with the starters so that you’re eating without them. One-year-olds take a long time to eat their food, so this alone should keep them busy while you eat.

Before and after they eat, make sure you have engaging activities with you, like books, toy cars, or a busy board. If necessary, take turns — one person eats their food while the other wanders around with the baby.

And if nothing else is working, this is where screen time comes in handy! Putting on a simple YouTube video like Hey Bear Sensory will capture their attention for 10 minutes while you finish your meal. But we recommend using this as a last resort.

Mom Advice

Bring light snacks for your child to eat while waiting for food. If you have a hungry, fussy baby, this can keep them happy until their food comes. And they’ll still be hungry when it appears!

Helping Your One-Year-Old Thrive

Parenting a toddler is tricky! But with these fun and educational activities for one-year-olds, you have 50 ideas for how to pass the days and encourage their crucial development skills.

Whether you’re looking for something to develop sensory, gross motor, fine motor, or musical skills, we have plenty of options to choose from.

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