32 Fun Activities for 1-Year Olds (You’ll Never Run Out of Things to Do)

While it doesn’t always take much, continuing to find fun activities for 1-year olds can sometimes be a chore.

If you don’t provide them with enough stimulation, they can get cranky. And if your little one is mobile already, he or she can get into trouble as well.

Keeping them occupied with fun activities is key.  And it’s not only so they don’t get bored and don’t bother you.

It’s to help them with their brain and motor development too.  If you keep giving them the same activity over and over, you may not be exposing them to as many development opportunities as you would be if you mixed it up periodically.

To help you with this ongoing issue, we did a bunch of research and came up with a ton of fun activities for 1-year olds.

I promise, if you follow this list, you’ll never run out of things to do with your little one.

(Note: This post may contain affiliate links.  We only link to products that we recommend!)

32 Fun Activities for 1-Year Olds

Here’s the collection of fun activities for 1-year olds that we came up with…enjoy!

1) Put a ball pit in your home.

2) Contact paper craft.

  • Using clear contact paper, tape a sheet down on a table or floor with the sticky side up.  Give your child a bunch of cut up pieces of colored construction paper, and show him or her how to stick it to the paper.
  • Once they see how the paper sticks, they’ll have a lot of fun putting the pieces in different places and creating a work of art!
  • Source: The Measured Mom – get all the instructions here!

3) Fun with alphabet playdough.

  • All you need are alphabet cookie cutters and some playdough, and your kids are ready to have fun while learning their ABCs.
  • Use the cookie cutters to create playdough letters, and use the letters to spell words (give them words to spell out – a great one to start with is their own name).
  • Source: No Time for Flashcards – get all the instructions here!

4) Make a baby play station with toilet paper rolls.  

  • Basically, you decorate empty toilet paper rolls and put them on a rod where your toddler can have fun rolling it.  They’re easy to make, and it’s a great way to re-purpose something that you would normally throw in the trash.
  • Source: Kids Activity Blog – get all the instructions here!

5) Pretend play grocery store.

  • You should be able to do this with everything you already have at home – set up items from your pantry, including fruits and vegetables, arranged in a sort of “fake grocery store” kind of way. This could be a simple as putting things on a low bookshelf.
  • Let your child go shopping! If you don’t have a mini/toy shopping cart, any box or basket will do.
  • Turn it into an educational game by requiring your child to identify the item before they take it.  If they aren’t quite ready for that yet, it’s an opportunity to teach them the words of the items they are “shopping” for.

6) Play peek-a-boo.

  • Eventually your child may get too old for this, but it’s still a classic game that young toddlers love.  It’s one of my favorite fun activities for 1-year olds that doesn’t require any kind of materials or objects.

7) Use an empty diaper box and create a fun “pull along” toy.

  • This is not only a great way to give your baby support for sitting up, but it’s also a ton of fun for them.
  • Use an older diaper box, add some toys, attach a string, and put your baby in the box! Then, you can pull him or her along the floor (which they really get a kick out of).
  • Source: Pink Oatmeal – get all the instructions here!

8) Blow bubbles.

  • As an adult, I still have a lot of fun with this.  For the amount of effort that goes into this, this has to be one of my favorite activities to do with a kid.
  • If you want to REALLY go nuts with this, check out the Gazillion Bubble Hurricane Machine.

9) Play catch with a ball.

  • True, your 1-year old may not be physically capable of playing a good game of catch, but you can still have a good time by rolling the ball back and forth to each other on the floor.

10) Letter magnets on a cookie sheet

  • This is a great way to start teaching the ABCs and allows a child to be creative without making a mess.
  • Simply use letters like these with a metal cookie sheet, and allow your kid to place letters wherever they want.

11) Build a fort.

  • Put a few chairs near each other, drape a big sheet over it all, add some pillows…and you’ve got yourself a legitimate fortress.
  • Bonus tip: Bring some kind of colorful light device into the fort (or even a plain flashlight will do).

12) Stack recycled plastic cups (and knock them over!)

  • Wash out and save old plastic containers (such as applesauce containers) and allow your toddler to stack them in different configurations (see picture above).
  • It’s a fun, free, creative way to keep them entertained.  And when it’s all over, they get the pleasure of knocking the whole thing down!
  • Source: And Next Comes L – get all the instructions here!

13) Obstacle course for crawlers

  • This is another simple one that simply uses whatever you have at home.  Using couch cushions, pillows, etc. create a simple obstacle course that allows your child to crawl around and work on their motor skills.
  • Source: Hands On as We Grow – get all the instructions here!

14) Rolling things down a ramp

  • Using an open board book or some other solid surface, create an inclined ramp.  Let your child roll balls and other toys down the ramp.
  • Source: Learn with Play at Home – get all the instructions here!

15) Sing a song together.

  • Take your child’s favorite nursery rhyme or song and sing them together.
  • Make sure to allow him or her to also try and sing the words.

16) Play with fabric scraps.

  • This is another activity that uses recycled items (scraps of fabric and a used wipes container – both things you would normally throw away).
  • Put the fabric scraps into the container and let your toddler pull them out, experiencing the different colors and textures of the fabric.
  • Source: Hands On as We Grow – get all the instructions here!

17) Go for a walk.

  • Sometimes the simplest activities are the most enjoyable.  Go for a walk with your little one, experience nature, and get some exercise while you’re at it.

18) Cruise from object to object (to practice walking)

  • If your child is starting to walk, this is probably something they’ve already tried doing (“cruising”). Help reinforce the behavior by setting up objects intentionally for cruising.
  • For example, set up multiple chairs in a row so that your child can cruise from one to another.
  • Source: How Wee Learn – get all the instructions here!

19) Play with sidewalk chalk outside.

  • One of my favorite pastimes…grab some chalk, go outside, and draw on the ground!
  • Not only is this a fun activity for a 1-year old, but it’s an opportunity to challenge their motor skills.  It’s harder to draw with chalk on the sidewalk compared to finger painting inside the house.

20) Reuse an empty gallon milk container as a “discovery jug”

  • Cut a hole in an old milk container and fill it with small toys; let your child discover them as he or she pulls them out.
  • Just watch out for putting in any toys or objects that are too small and could present a choking hazard.
  • Source: All Our Days – get all the instructions here!

21) Finger painting

  • Another classic activity – grab some finger paint and a piece of paper and let your little one create a masterpiece.

22) Telephone call

  • Using a toy phone (or an old phone / disconnected cell phone), play a game with your little one where you pretend to call each other. You can have conversations with each other or imaginary people.
  • Feel free to use funny voices or make up characters to enhance the fun.

23) Have a dance party (include the whole family)

  • Crank up some of your favorite dance music and get everyone involved.  You’ll know you’re doing it right if it quickly leads to lots of laughter.

24) Play various counting games

  • The nice thing about this activity is that you can do it anywhere.  Examples include:
    • Count your fingers and toes
    • Count the number of steps as you walk up stairs
    • Count the number of cars on the street
    • Count the number of chairs in the room
    • (you get the idea)
  • Read more: How to Teach a Child to Count

25) Read books

  • This one is hopefully something you’re doing on a regular basis.  And quite honestly, this should be much higher up on the list.  Nevertheless, if you’re struggling to think of fun activities for 1-year olds, you can always default to reading a book.
  • Here are the top books for 1-year olds.

26) Organize toys

  • This activity has the added bonus of cleaning up your living room or basement.  While it may seem like a chore, it’s a good activity to teach your child:
    1. Responsibility
    2. Organization
    3. Good habits
    4. Refining motor skills
  • While an older child might view this as an annoying chore, you can easily make a fun game out of it with a 1-year old.

27) Play educational games on your tablet device.

  • Let me start by saying, I know a lot of parents like to limit “screen time” for their little ones (which is a good thing to limit – at this age, they shouldn’t spend more than a few minutes at a time staring at a screen), but there are a lot of excellent educational apps today that can still be beneficial to a 1-year old child in short intervals.
    • Here are a few great apps for 1-year olds on the App Store (you can likely search for the same ones on Google Play if you’re on Android):

28) Play in a tunnel

  • For whatever reason, kids seem to have a blast playing in these tunnels.  It’s also great for motor skill development.
  • Don’t get stuck in there! (I’ve done this before).
  • Here’s one tunnel that a lot of parents seem to enjoy.

29) Balls in a muffin tin

  • Here’s a fun activity for 1-year olds that only requires some bouncy balls (or any toys that are small and round-shaped) and a muffin tin.
  • Give your child the muffin tin and a basket full of bouncy balls.  Show them how they can take the ball and place it in the muffin tin.
  • Great activity for motor development and learning to hold and transfer objects.
  • Source: The OT Tool Box – get all the instructions here!

30) Play with a water sensory bin

  • This is a variation of bath time play that you can do outdoors with your toddler.
  • Fill a bin with a little bit of water and some toys. Let your toddler sit in the bin and play with them.
  • Obviously keep close supervision while your child is in the water.  It’s helpful if the bin is large enough for your child to sit in, but small enough where he or she won’t fall over while reaching for toys.
  • Source: Toddler Approved (via the Iowa Farmer’s Wife) – get more information here!

31) Play the “drums”

  • Take out a few pots and pans, and turn them upside down in front of your child.  Let him or her bang on the pans with a wooden spoon.
  • Some toddlers will find this game hilarious and it’s great for coordination and motor skill development.
  • Warning: You may regret this later.

32) Create a sensory board

  • This is a great home DIY project for parents:
    • Take a wooden board, add various objects to it (see picture above), and affix it securely to a wall or piece of furniture.
    • Let your child explore it!
  • Kids love to feel different textures and see how objects react to being touched or moved.
  • Source: Fun at Home With Kids – get more information here!

Having Fun Yet?

Wow, I’m exhausted just looking at all of these fun activities for 1-year olds.  If you’re ever bored or unsure of what to do with your little one, chances are you’ll find something on this list that works. It’ll be awhile before you try all of these activities.

What are some other activities that you enjoy doing with your toddler?  Leave a comment below! πŸ™‚

About Eric and Tiffany Matthews

We're Eric and Tiffany, the parents behind Cynical Parent. We're just normal parents who are navigating parenthood with both eyes wide open (probably because there's a kid yelling nearby). And of course, we're pretty cynical. Don't believe everything you read or hear, whether it's on the internet, or from a close family or friend (or even from us!). Every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Sometimes you just need to try and see for yourself. :)


  1. Great post! Thank you!

  2. I find it pretty ridiculous that your number 1 suggestion is screen time. For a 1 year old. If that had been left out entirely, this would’ve been a good list.

    • That’s a fair point. πŸ™‚ We did acknowledge the fact that many parents prefer to limit screen time. Also, everything in moderation. Hours in front a screen is bad, but playing an educational game for 10-15 minutes is fine (in my opinion).

      Also, the list isn’t a ranking, so we certainly aren’t saying that screen time is our #1 choice. But thank you for the feedback and comment, still appreciate it! πŸ™‚

      • I don’t think screen time is to bad at all with limitations to the amount of time spent. Your suggestions have been very helpful. I will be using a lot of your ideas. Thank you

    • If you don’t like that activity, don’t let them do it. Simple as that. I know a lot of kids who have learned quite a lot watching and playing games. Really all you have to do is LIMIT.

  3. I have to agree with Nicole. It’s not just the fact that screen time isn’t providing baby with sensory feedback or developing motor skills they need at this time, it’s also very bad for ocular development. That’s why the AAP recommends NO screen time before age 2. Realistic? Maybe not. Of course kids will catch glances at the tv and phone, but to recommend it as an activity is pretty irresponsible IMO.

    • Thanks for the comment Briana. I don’t disagree with you, but still maintain that, in very short infrequent intervals, it’s not damaging. It absolutely is not something that should be your child’s primary activity, but if every few days your child plays a 10 minute educational game, it isn’t going to be harmful to their development. I appreciate the feedback though and have gone back to modify the post to clarify this point.

  4. I love this list! My 11 month old is hard to keep entertained and he seems to really enjoy some of the things on here that I did not think about doing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.