Are you amidst the toddler stage? Pulling your hair out, chasing them around the house, pulling every unsafe thing from their hands? This is a list of things you can do with them! I also include developmental milestones that go with each activity.
Being a toddler mom can be stressful, tantrums are on the horizon if you aren’t already experiencing them. At this stage, your little one is curious and wants to know your reaction to what she is doing. This can be so frustrating when you are just trying to cook dinner and you find your toddler climbed up on top of the kitchen table and is about to take flight.
Giving your child an activity to do is sometimes the easiest way to distract him from the activities he finds to do on his own. At the end of this post, I will put a list of the milestones your child should have by 12 months.
This is a similar post that is on my site linked here, Mama of the Drama it’s 10 activities for 6-month-olds.
If you get the kind with colorful letters and numbers you can incorporate that educational element into your play. Talking about the letter or number they picked up and what color it is. Such as “That is a red A! A is for apple, and some apples are red!” You can also make towers and have your child knock them down.
Milestones that go with blocks are banging objects together, stacking 2 blocks, and gross motor skills.
2. Picking Flowers
If it’s spring, summer, or fall. Go outside and pick those dandelions or other flowers that have petals. Allowing them to pick the petals off one by one. Describe the color, or if you know what flower it is you can talk about that too. Try to encourage only picking the flowers you say are allowed though.
This is a perfect activity to help with color recognition, fine motor skills (pincer grasp), and language skills.
3. Play Phone
Who can resist a toddler picking up the phone and saying hello? I certainly can’t, I don’t think anyone can. This is actually a developmental step, your child knows what the phone is for and what to do with it. This play imitation is also a cognitive milestone. Your child will learn through play imitation for years to come, he’s just getting started!
You can also talk about who he is calling. “Is that grandma?” Or “Has auntie called?! Hello Auntie!”
4. Shopping Cart
I remember having a play shopping cart as a child, it came with a play cash register. It was awesome! I loved pretending to be the cashier for my stuffed animals who went shopping. Although this play is an older imaginative play. A toddler can enjoy a shopping cart as well.
Toddlers love moving objects in and out of other objects. My child prefers the dumping method. You should try to encourage them using their hands to pick up and put the objects down. This promotes fine and gross motor development.
5. Musical Instruments
These might be best kept at Grandmas house, but there definitely is a benefit to giving your children musical instruments. There has not only been a lot of research that talks about the benefits of music in relation to IQ and cognition later in life. At this age, it also helps them through exploration.
Toddlers love to explore through banging, shaking, throwing, and dropping. With musical instruments, you are going to get different sounds and feedback from each of the ways a toddler explores. Helping them with fine motor, gross motor, and cognition.
6. Lift-the-flap Books
My daughter loves these! We have read all of our lift-the-flap books at least 20 times a day. Thankfully we have more than 1 or I would be hiding it. We have also needed to tape some of the flaps back on because she is a little overzealous with lifting them, but there isn’t harm in that. Although it sometimes gets annoying it is so beneficial to her development.
Reading to children helps with language and cognition. The flaps go with the milestone of a toddler knowing where easily hidden objects are, as well as the fine motor control it takes to lift them. If your child is a little shy on exploring, you might have to lift the flaps yourself the first time around.
7. Rolling a Ball
Rolling a ball back and forth outside can be great fun at this age. Your little one might even attempt to throw, but it won’t be with great accuracy. That’s ok though, nobody ever learns something and is perfect. If your little one is active like mine, she probably won’t sit long. That’s ok too, the more they run the more tired they are when they come inside.
The milestones that go with this is rolling a ball back and forth, helps with gross motor skills, and hand-eye coordination.
Toddlers are sometimes hard to get sit. If you put your child in a highchair to cook or do other chores this is a perfect activity to give them. At 12 months old they are starting to imitate scribbling, don’t be surprised if they do find their mouth.
Just make sure that the writing implements you are giving them are non-toxic. It is easier for little hands to hold bigger writing implements so getting some fat crayons, or markers would be best. I love the Color Wonder products because they are mess free. So let the scribbling commence!
Coloring helps with cognitive, and fine motor skills.
Puzzles are so great for toddlers they won’t put one together but a wooden or other chunky puzzle is perfect. 12-month-olds will enjoy dumping out the pieces all over the place. They can also pick them out with their pincer grasp. Putting them back in is more of a challenge for them so don’t be surprised if you lose most of the pieces to your puzzles.
10. Stacking Rings
Stacking rings have been around for a while now, so you know that they are beneficial and have entertained kids for decades. The bright colors are great to help with color recognition and the stacking is a perfect way to learn fine motor skills. Your child will probably not stack them in the right order, but that is okay. The motor skills are what is the focus of this toy.
11. Taking a Walk
Even if your little one is not quite ready to walk for more than a couple of feet this is a great activity to share. Just bring the stroller along with. Find a trail at a local park or explore your neighborhood. Just remember, most toddlers have a tendency to run and don’t understand roadway safety. So pick something that is not near a busy road, or by a road at all.
Name all the objects she’s experiencing like “do you hear the birdies chirping?” or “look at those green leaves!” This helps with language and recognition, or surroundings. Encouraging mimicking if your child tries to repeat the words or inflection back to you.
12. Singing and Dancing
Singing and dancing is a fun activity for everyone. I mean what else do you really enjoy doing at a wedding? Am I right?! Toddlers enjoy it too, they are just getting the hang of rhythm and in response dance in that adorable way they do. Songs with directions like “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” or “shake your sillies out” are the best for dancing.
If you prefer to only sing in the shower, that’s alright. Turn up the music on your phone, computer, or TV and dance around together. Clap, tap or slap your knees to the rhythm to demonstrate the beat. You can also just dance around like a silly person. Your child will enjoy the bond of dancing with you, she will also benefit from the language, motor, and cognitive development that she gets from this activity.
Those are the 12 Activities to do with your 12-Month-Old. The developmental milestones are listed below as well as resources. If you are interested in what your child is or is not doing at this age talk to your pediatrician. At 12 months you should be having a “well child” check-up, so bring your questions or concerns to that appointment.
Developmental Milestones at 1 Year
- Is shy or nervous with strangers
- Cries when mom or dad leaves
- Has favorite things and people
- Shows fear in some situations
- Hands you a book when he wants to hear a story
- Repeats sounds or actions to get attention
- Puts out arm or leg to help with dressing
- Plays games such as “peek-a-boo” and “pat-a-cake”
- Responds to simple spoken requests
- Uses simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye”
- Makes sounds with changes in tone (sounds more like speech)
- Says “mama” and “dada” and exclamations like “uh-oh!”
- Tries to say words you say
- Explores things in different ways, like shaking, banging, throwing
- Finds hidden things easily
- Looks at the right picture or thing when it’s named
- Copies gestures
- Starts to use things correctly; for example, drinks from a cup, brushes hair
- Bangs two things together
- Puts things in a container, takes things out of a container
- Lets things go without help
- Pokes with index (pointer) finger
- Follows simple directions like “pick up the toy”
- Gets to a sitting position without help
- Pulls up to stand, walks holding on to furniture (“cruising”)
- May take a few steps without holding on
- May stand alone
About the guest author:
My name is Kirsta, I am the owner and creator of Mama of the Drama. I have 2 beautiful daughters with special needs. I am a wife to an amazing husband of 6 years, and I am also a nurse.
My life is full of drama but that’s what being a mama to 2 girls is all about!