We have been out of the “baby phase” in our home for about a year now. I have been thinking about those mamas who are stuck at home trying to entertain their 6 to 18-month-olds without having friends to lean on or a playground to go to.
It got me browsing old pictures and thinking about when I was a SAHM with my first baby. What did I enjoy doing with her at that age?
Here are some ideas of things I remember doing with my babes!
Puzzles. I remember Kamryn getting this puzzle with big knobs when she was about 1. She couldn’t do it on her own yet but I remember doing it over…and over…and over…and over again every day. It is such a durable puzzle too! We still have it in our home after 5 babies using it! And it is in great shape. Puzzles are a great way to introduce new words too: colors, shapes, house, tree, up, down, in, out, etc. Build language and vocabulary while doing the puzzle together. After a while of baby watching you or doing it with you (hand over hand) he will be able to do it on his own soon enough. For now, it is ok if he explores the pieces a little with his mouth. 🙂
Peekaboo. We often still do this with my 2 year old. Classic game that will never die. (though it may grow old for mom after days of it!) Use your hands to hide, use a blanket to hide, build a fort to hide, use a toy to hide, have baby hide himself and pull the blanket back himself. Lots of ways to keep it engaging longer and to vary it up with baby. The best part about it for baby is your eye contact and attention. He feels your excitement when he is found.
Musical Toys. I remember we had a little play piano (Little Einstein themed) that just was constantly playing classical music in our house every day. It was a piano that had a lot of buttons and functions on it that were actually above the ability of a 1 year old. However, pressing the keys on a piano and producing sounds and music is always fun for this age. I remember also enjoying picking out songs we knew on the piano for her. Songs like “Row row row your boat” or “Twinkle twinkle little star” and singing. Babies love to sing. And don’t worry if you’re off key! They will love every note coming out of your mouth!
Clapping games. Pat-a-cake is a classic. Keeping beat to any song by clapping. Babies generally learn to clap around 6–8 months old so they will enjoy clapping with you. You can also vary by showing them how to clap on their legs, tummy, feet, the floor, etc.
Reading lots of books. LOTS of books. Books are how baby learns about the world around him. Books teach vocabulary. Books show rhythm. Books are a way for baby and mom to physically and intellectually and emotionally connect. You can never read too much! Now, I know that it can be super annoying to read the same book over and over and over again. So help your baby find a few that he enjoys. Read the one he likes, then another. Then if he wants to go back to the favorite, that’s ok. Then introduce another. Read with voices! Sing as you read. Vary it up and make it exciting for you and baby. There are also some fun readalouds of picture books on youtube if you wanted a break though this age may be too young to have that attention span without the physical book in hand. Every child is different.
Run and Dance. After baby can walk, play tag indoors or out on the grass outside. Let them chase you. If you are tired, sit at one end of the room and have them run to you and run back again. Hug them. Tickle them. Dance with them. I remember a very specific day doing this with Kamryn while newborn Kyler was in the other room napping. I videoed her running and talking and playing with toys and marching. I don’t know why it is so vivid in my memory. But it was memorable for me and was such a small thing to do.
Stacking cups. I think stacking cups are hands-down my favorite baby toy. There is just so much you can do with them.
- Nest them.
- Stack them.
- Count them.
- Talk about colors
- Talk about big and little.
- Knock down the tower and build again. Have them knock down the tower.
- Use the cups to pretend to eat or drink.
- Use them for real snacks (cereal, puffs, etc).
- Play “hide the cheerio” with the cups. (hide the cheerio under a cup and ask baby where it went between 2 cups. Like hide and seek with a cheerio)
Play with Water. If baby is still young you can put water or rice in a water bottle and let them shake it and play with it. If they are older, put it in a square bin or a water table and play with plastic toys with the water. This can also be done with dry rice or beans. Fun textures are fun for babies. This is not a good idea for kids who still put everything in their mouths. Use with discretion depending on your child.
Play In and Out. This age loves to take things in and out of containers. Give them a bucket, a cup, a drawer on the floor, a laundry basket with something inside (clothing, balls, light toys, socks, etc.) Then let baby empty it. Fill it up again and let them empty it again. It seems like this would get boring for them quickly, but they are actively learning and they love it! And it will keep them busy for a while. (and mom because you’ll be picking it all up again each time!)
Sometimes this age can feel overwhelming because their attention span is short and they aren’t very independent yet. But this age is so fun because they love anything and everything. Think outside the box, keep some simple tools nearby, and you’ll be set!
Some resources I enjoy when looking for more ideas with babies: https://www.mother.ly/child/sensory-activities-for-1-year-olds-play https://busytoddler.com/2018/02/activities-for-1-year-olds/ https://myboredtoddler.com/activities-for-1-year-olds/
Enjoy this time! Take pictures! It’ll be gone before you know it.