At about the 1 year old mark there are a lot of changes happening with your little one. They aren’t babies anymore. With physical development comes the freedom of movement and desire to explore every corner of the house, every teeny tiny grit of sand.
They love to run, to jump, to throw, to bang, to touch things, to be actively involved in all “what are you doing” activities.
This is the time when mommies start to wonder what should I teach and how should I teach my 1 year old?
And most certainly, am I doing enough to help my baby learn?
But before that mum guilt has even had a chance to rise, let me tell you – it’s intrinsic to mamas to naturally teach their little ones without even realizing it.
Do you catch yourself repeating the same word 25 times in a short period of time? Emphasizing key words when talking in phrases?
Do you like going together for a stroll?
Do you let your little one out in the backyard?
Do you sing, dance and just be silly together?
Are you giving them a chance to be themselves: climb, touch things, be messy?
Are you trying to create a safe “Yes” environment where there are more Yes’ than No’s?
I’m sure you’re nodding your head and in a nutshell that’s all you have to do.
Follow the flow of your natural mama instinct and your babies desire to learn.
I totally get that your exhausted body and mind already do so many things on autopilot that sometimes you just need to see a bigger picture lined out for you and have that reminder that you’re on the right track.
So here’s my list of the things that may come obvious and pretty much on autopilot when it comes to teaching your 1 year old but that truly make a difference.
My classification has been inspired by Montessori approach to child education.
Most of the activities don’t belong just to one category they’re listed under. They’re most certainly on the intersection of 2 or even more.
Things To Teach A 1 Year Old
When writing this post, I was mostly considering appropriate skills of a 12-18 month old.
Since there’s a huge difference in what 12 months old and 20 month old can do, you’ll naturally start from the most simple things and add on as your baby grows.
Practical Life (Kitchen, Play & Outdoors)
Independently eat with a spoon and a fork
When serving banana don’t do all the work. Simply make a slit cut along the banana and then cut it in rounds. Show your little one how to peel the skin and get a delicious bite of a banana.
Drink from an open cup
Seems simple but not so simple to teach a young toddler. They’ll definitely want to play with the water in a cup, dig their hands in or simply flip over and spill.
The key is to have patience.
First, demonstrate how to drink from an open cup, help them hold it with both hands and lightly assist if needed. They’ll definitely make a mess but soon they’ll get the idea and will get better and better at it all on their own.
You have a huge advantage if you’ve never given a straw cup or a sippy cup in the first place.
By the time your baby is 1 year old they should be pretty good at drinking from an open cup.
Wipe a spill
To teach your little one to wipe a spill as you do it, simply demonstrate and explain your moves whenever you’re cleaning a spill. Give your little one tools of their own to model you.
Not because other types of cleaning are less important but because it’s something that they mess a lot with (those spotty windows just minutes after you cleaned them ugh!) but they also learn easily. So it’s a WIN – WIN!
Pick up toys and put them in the bin
Load/Upload laundry (washing machine or dryer)
Self Care and Care Of Others
Wash & dry hands
Make sure your child can easily reach the sink, soap and towel.
There’s a ton of information on potty training so I’m not going to go into details on this. I would just say that the best time to start potty training is anytime between 12 and 18 months considering your child’s sings of readiness.
Brush teeth, Brush hair
Do this together and be a role model for your little once. They LOVE copying adults at this age.
Dress/Undress – push arms through the sleeves, pull up pants, put on and take off shoes etc.
Language, Manners & Communication
You would naturally name body parts throughout the day as you go to wash hands, and you dress up and you’re bathing them etc.
Animal and animal sounds
Animal figurines and sounds books are great when teaching animals and animal sounds.
Don’t forget to also notice, point and talk through different animals when you see them outside.
Nature & nature sounds
Driving your little one’s attention to sounds and not just words is really important. It develops their phonemic hearing and phonemic awareness – the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in spoken words, and the understanding that spoken words and syllables are made up of sequences of speech sounds.
Outdoor objects & outdoor sounds – vehicles, street noises (soft and loud).
Household items, including their items that are frequently used
Food names – fruit veggies, diary, things they like
Right side/left side
Please and Thank You – simple and most natural way is to use these words yourself when communicating with your little one.
Whenever he asks for something or I know he want that I would form a short sentence/request for him.
For example: he want more bread.
I say – Would you like MORE BREAD? Yes?
Mommy, more bread please.
I give him the bread saying – Thank you mommy.
Since I’m teaching him American Sign Language as well I also sign all the words as I say them.
No biting/no hurting
Blow a kiss
Kiss and give a hug to mommy and daddy
Point – role model
Ask for things – please & thank you, yes and no, asking for more
Push the chair in after a meal
Making the bed
Patience – knowing they have to wait. Explain what you’re about to do and what’s coming up next.
For example when my little one starts to ask for milk right before a bath time, I would tell him and sign:
Milk after bath.
Bath first, then pajama, then vitamin (he’s still taking vitamin D), then clean your ears, then blow dry your hair and THEEEN milk.
I’ll also line out our structure in a very similar way when we need to run errands together. I’m thinking even to print out some photos and show them in a sequence as they are going to occur.
Last but not least and actually the most important category is teaching your baby safety. This list included but by no means is limited to most common areas.
Watch your fingers when closing drawers/doors
Watch your step/no running
Watch out for things on the way/angles/watch your head (under the table)
We don’t put fingers in the sockets
This list, by no means, is complete. It’s meant to be an inspiration and a sparkle for your creative mind to start thinking and noticing all the things that are applicable for you and your family that you can teach your young toddler.