These games for 1 year olds guarantee you lots of laughs and giggles with learning opportunities naturally incorporated into them.
Because, there’s no greater happiness than hearing your little one laugh. And when you laugh together it’s double joy.
Now, I have to warn you, some might (will!) seem silly and crazy at times. But isn’t that what makes us laugh and truly have fun? 😉
Seriously though, with such young kids everything you do is a learning activity.
No matter how small and how simple.
Simply waddling around with a racket or with a DIY kite they are working on their coordination, balance, learning about physics and aerodynamics.
With my body-part spotlight you’ll teach your little ones about body parts, with color stickers – colors, counting, language and more!
So here it goes.
Our Favorite Games To Play With 1 Year Olds
- Baby Tennis
Baby tennis is a real deal. It’s not quite like playing at Wimbledon. It’s better!.
The fun, joy and laughs will flow from the first second you throw up that pompom.
- All you need are rackets: beach tennis rackets, ping pong rackets and pompoms or small balls.
- A 1 to 2 year old. Actually even younger than that
Be ready to lead the game 😉
- I Spy Body Parts
This is on of those simple games where you can incorporate a TON of LEARNING and a TON of GIGGLES.
We simply used the top from the IKEA KVISTBRO Storage Table that has a large opening in the center and my face 🙂
You don’t have to have that kind of equipment though, you can simply cut a hole in a large piece of carton.
Show your tongue, eye, teeth other body parts through the opening.
Name those body parts, stick you tongue out and just be as silly as we can be when having fun with our kids. You’ll both LOVE this game.
You can even highlight their nose, their eyes, etc. You can even do this in front of a mirror.
You get the idea.
Your little one can’t help but reach to touch you, so be careful when doing eyes 😉
- Plastic Bag Kite
Secure a plastic grocery shopping bag with some tape around a stick (I used a stick that fell off another toy) or a thin rod.
You want the bag with handles so that the air can pass through and blow the kite.
As an alternative you can just tie a string around the bag handles.
The best part? You don’t really need to be involved in this kind of activity. Just watch and laugh and drink your coffee as your little one plays!
Kites are best on a windy day outside but we play with them even inside enjoying just as much.
- Balloon Play
Here’s another awesome independent play game that you can sit back and relax.
Blow a balloon, tie a string to it, attach it to the ceiling.
Watch your little one play.
Take this game to the next level by adding some extra tools like fly swatter or a racket from the baby tennis game.
- Tunnel Play
It’s not a secret that there’s a ton of ways to play with a tunnel.
Hide & Reveal, Peek-a-Boo, Giant Ball Ramp are some of the most popular ones.
Since my little one has skipped crawling, one of my goals is to get the benefits of crawling through tunnel play.
However, he was not all that excited to get in the tunnel when it first arrived.
So I gave him an incentive to get in the tunnel and even do it fast!
I used an item he usually can’t have (a remote, a cell phone, you get the idea).
With both of us sitting on one end of the tunnel, I simply throw the “toy” in the tunnel as far as I can and he immediately goes in to get it.
He loved this game so much, that once he’s out the other end of the tunnel he’s turning back to me to hand me the remote (something he would NEVER do by his own will) and requesting to repeat the game.
If your little one has also skipped moving on all fours, you can read an amazing article on CanDoKiddo about benefits of crawling and activities to do with your toddler that are equally beneficial, especially for those who skipped the crawling stage or were not crawling properly.
- Baby Hockey
Yep, another big sport game that your little one will love. What can be better than running around with colorful balls? Running and hitting the balls with a hockey stick.
While baby tennis at this age is a solo game in a sense as you can’t expect a young toddler like this to hit a ball in the air. But baby hockey is the contrary. It CAN be reciprocal even with a 1 year old.
Just show and talk them through the moves how to roll the ball back and forth.
All you need is a fly swatter or a kiddy broom (our favorite toy of all time, seriously!) and plastic balls – they help you fill a ball pit with or any other kind of small balls that roll and spring well.
Get a few of them since they’ll sure end up under the table, under the couch etc. You’ll pick them up later.
- Pop Tubes or Poppin Pipes
These pop tubes are serious fun for ALL the family.
They pop, snap, stretch, connect, expand, compress, twist and easily connect to each other.
With just one set of tubes you can play so many games.
It’s also a pure open-ended toy so stimulates imagination and creativity.
Your kids can manipulate them making different sounds, exploring the texture, expand it to its max and wiggle them on the floor and all other things their imagination will urge them to do.
As you can see, this is a great toy even for independent play.
And here’s how you double the fun:
- Blow it like a trumpet or use it as a loud speaker and invite your little one to do the same.
- Make shapes and pretend they were different things
- Link the ends and make a crown, necklace or life ring etc. Your babies will look ridiculous and you’ll all have a TON of fun.
You can easily turn this into learning activity as well:
- Make different shapes to learn shapes, colors, even letters!
- Another favorite game to play is to thread a long thick rope or something similar and pop it unexpectedly from the other side. My little one ADORES when we play this.
- We also love to drop small things curiously through the pipes and watch them come out on the other end. It’s a great addition to a sensory bin as well.
- Toy Race
This one is another reciprocal game you can play with your little one.
Simply race cars or other riding toys across the room. Make different sounds, pretend play and learn new language and vocabulary along the way.
- Food Hide & Seek
Another SUPER FUN and educational game we absolutely love.
Take two or more plastic cups of different colors.
I suggest to stick with 2 for young toddlers and add more as they master the game.
Name the colors. Show a piece of his favorite snack, fruit or cheerios.
Hide the cups and say slowly and clearly “I’m going to put the snack in the BLUE cup, BLUE cup”.
Take the cups out and say again, “ Your snack is in the BLUE cup”.
Now, you know what happens next 😉
Laugh, eat, learn and have fun!
- Water Guns
If you think water guns are just for summer and water play think again.
Now, I’m not talking about classic squirt water pistols, they are great for bigger kids.
For our 1 year olds I suggest you get a foam water gun.
I also love foam guns as they’re gender neutral, so they’re perfect even for girls.
Of course, you’ll have the most fun shooting the water outdoors, obviously.
But your little one can use them even indoors and in the car. They just love pushing and pulling the handle in and out, hear the noise it makes, the air that’s coming out.
No matter how simple and maybe even useless this activity looks to you, those little hands are working on:
- improving their grasp
- strengthening their wrists
- improving bilateral upper extremity usage (which in human language means they need to use both hands together to push and pull the handle of the water gun).
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Looking for more fun and engaging things to do with your little one?