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The Best Activities for Babies (12-18 Months)

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

We often don’t know how to entertain young kids. Finding quality activities for babies (12-18 months) is not easy. You want to do something interesting with them while also engage their motor, cognitive, communication, and other skills. Activities that are good for development don’t have to be extraordinary. You can just take advantage of everyday situations to encourage your children to be more active. Also, there are various fun games you can teach your kids. We researched a bit and gathered simple examples of those activities. Your kids might not like all of them, but be sure to try them out to see.

Before you check out these interesting activities, we’d like to mention a few things:

  • We labeled these activities for babies 12-18 months. However, a lot of activities can be done when your child is ready. For example, if your kid can sit or grasp objects, he/she can do most of these activities.
  • Switch between activities and change toys every week. That can help in keeping things fresh. For example, if you bring back some toys you’ve put away two weeks ago, they will keep him occupied for longer because your kid will find these “new toys” exciting.
  • You don’t have to try all the activities at once. Just pick ones that you find interesting and start there.

Everyday activities

Whether you’re looking for activities to build your kids’ language skills or to keep them busy while developing motor skills, here are some everyday activities you can use to activate your child.

Eating alone

Feeding your child is the perfect opportunity to teach independence. Let him/her hold the spoon during all meals. Place the food right in front of him/her. Pick something that sticks to the spoon easily like mashed potatoes or sour cream. Try to teach him/her how to scoop and guide the food to the mouth.

Don’t let your kid play with the food though. He/she shouldn’t be throwing the food on the floor.  You need to be there all the time, so you can prevent things from getting out of control. After all, the point is to finish a meal properly.

You can practice the scooping skill with water, sand, beans or rice. However, you should be very careful. Kids will try to eat anything that resembles the food they like. Teach him/her the difference when eating a meal and playing with colored rice, beans, etc.

Bedtime stories

We can’t stress enough how important reading is. Kids are like sponges and they will absorb all the information they’re getting by the age of seven. That’s why it’s crucial to supply them with useful knowledge. Reading can also encourage imagination and nurture children’s creativity.

You should read aloud at least half an hour daily. When you read, try to encourage interaction. Ask him/her to point to the objects, animals, and people in the books. Your kid might not be able to follow the entire story but he/she will absorb the vocabulary and make connections between pictures and words.

Choose the books you read together carefully. Younger kids need simpler books with a lot of pictures. With older ones, you can be a little bolder. Make simple lesson plans for 18-month-olds. You can learn about colors, numbers, animals, plants, etc. You can even try teaching him/her a foreign language. You’ll be surprised how easily kids pick up things as they go.

Learning about the body

When it’s time to change your kid’s clothes, you can play a game of body part identification. Lift his/her leg and say “What’s this? It’s a leg.” Point to the belly or knees and repeat the action. Maybe you can even use the mirror and ask your kid about the parts of the face.

Kids learn new words and connect things with their meaning through repetition. Once a child knows how to point and identify his/her body parts, take the game to the next step. Ask your kid “Where is your nose” and when he points, bring a follow-up question “Where’s my nose.” They will quickly learn to point to your nose, eyes, fingers, etc.

This activity will upgrade your kid’s memory and increase his/her vocabulary. Through the process of repetition, it will boost his/her cognitive skills. If you want to engage even more skills, you can try singing to him/her about body parts. For example, this song below will also activate his/her sense of rhythm.

Being creative at home

If you mostly spend your days at home with your kid, you need to get a little creative with play activities for toddlers and babies. Check out these fun activities for more ideas.

Singing and dancing

Music inspires creativity and encourages imagination. Singing and dancing are just great forms of expression. If you sing to your children often and encourage them to follow, your kids will build confidence. Try helping them sing along and don’t be afraid to get a little goofy.

Listen to music in the house or the backyard. Choose a place where kids can freely move. Sing the songs and follow it up with a lot of gestures. By imitating your arm and leg movement, they will quickly learn how to follow the rhythm. This will also improve their motor and coordination skills. Soon your kids will have their favorite tunes and might even ask you to sing one particular song over and over again.

Blanket Swing

If you’re looking for fun activities to do with a one-year-old, try making a swing with a blanket. You’ll need one adult to help you with this one. Use a large blanket and instruct your kid to lie down on it. When you grab one end of the blanket and your partner takes another, you will easily lift the child. Try swinging gently back and forth while singing catchy songs.

Pay attention to your child’s reaction. He/she might be confused at first and not understand this activity. Don’t worry, once the swinging begins, your kid will love it! Swinging in a blanket hammock is also one of the best activities for a 2-year-old autistic child. Steady, linear swinging will help your kid relax and activate his/her sensory system. It will improve his/her attention, coordination, and alertness.

Rolling the ball

This is one of the simplest activities for a 12-month-old baby. Just sit on the floor facing your child and demonstrate how to roll a large ball towards him/her. Show your baby how to roll the soft ball back to you and he/she will quickly follow. Be sure to put a nursing pillow behind your kid’s back for support. Sit within arm’s reach to catch your kid if he/she starts falling. As your kid gains strength and control of the ball over time, you can increase the space between you two.

Rolling the ball is a fun activity that can improve gross motor skills. Your kid will be moving his/her arms, torso, and legs while also trying to keep balance while sitting. This simple game will also provide a sensory experience because textured balls are usually colorful and engaging. As you can see gross motor activities don’t have to be complicated. You’ll activate your kid’s skills with the ball rolling in just 10 minutes.

Basketball – Squat and stand

If your kid is stable to stand on his/her own, you should try playing this cute game. Place a bunch of small toys on the floor so your kid can easily pick them up. Then stand above your child holding a small basket. Show him/her how to squat, pick up a toy, and then stand up to drop it in the basket. Once your kid learns to do this task, change the game a bit. Put small balls instead of toys on the floor and lift the basket a bit. This will turn simple tasks into a mini basketball game.

This kind of “exercise play” is great for improving gross and fine motor skills, strength, balance, and coordination. It teaches kids how to grasp and release objects while also moving them from one place to another. The most important thing is that it’s fun and your kid will laugh every time he/she hits the basket properly.

Puzzles

All fun easy activities for toddlers include puzzles! Choose simple felt puzzles with 4-6 pieces or wooden ones with large knobs. Let your kid use the trial and error method to figure out how the pieces fit. It’s a great activity that engages both motor skills (for reaching and grasping pieces) and problem-solving skills.

Water painting

Every kid loves to play with water. This activity requires just paper or cardboard, a small bowl of water, and a paintbrush. We recommend construction paper because it’s very thick. Your kid will easily learn how to hold the brush and he/she will have so much fun splashing water around. Don’t worry about the mess, because plain water can easily dry.

Going outside

Even if you’re outside there are so many engaging activities to do. You can play anything, from a simple version of hide and seek to the “treasure” hunting with your kid. Use the time outdoors to explore the environment and teach your kid about the world around him/her.

Peek a Boo

Playing peek a boo is every kid’s favorite activity. You can easily make him/her laugh and encourage his communication skills with a bit of goofiness. Pretend you really can’t “see” him/her when you’re hiding behind your hands and make silly faces after you come out from hiding.

If you’re playing with your kid in your backyard, you can even try hiding behind trees and walls. Be sure that you’re easily noticeable, so your kid won’t have problems finding you. When you’re the one seeking, pretend like you can’t find him/her. Ask aloud where he/she is and pretend that you don’t hear the giggles behind the brushes or chairs. Your kid will love the game, as long as you seem to enjoy it too.

Treasure hunting

Your kid will probably be interested in pointing towards various outside objects because they are new and exciting to him/her. Encourage this activity letting him/her pick up interesting things. Give your kid a small basket and when you explore the backyard or the park, he/she can put all the found “treasures” in it. You’ll be surprised how much one-year-old kid likes to pick up leaves, acorns, and pinecones.

Water play

As we already mentioned, kids love to play with water. When you’re outside in the summer, let your kid go wild. Fill the buckets with warm water and give him/her cups and sponges to play with. Maybe even add small animal toys in the buckets, so they can float on the surface.

It’s wise to supervise your kid and play together with him but don’t try to control the activity. Let your kid figure out what to do with these various accessories. He/she might start splashing the water around, fill the cups, or try to “clean” the floor with wet sponges. This is a great activity because it engages his motor skills and coordination while also boosting his/her creativity.

If you’re playing with water for longer than intended, change your kid’s shirt and pants and let it dry in the sun. He/she will probably end up soaking wet in 10-15 minutes, so don’t let the clothes dry on him/her even if it’s summertime.

Conclusion

We hope that these activities for babies (12-18 months) gave you some ideas about what you can do with your kid. Once you learn how to make everyday activities fun, the possibilities are endless. Try to include singing in every activity you can because kids love doing things with music support.

If you’re a grandparent and need more ideas about additional accessories and activities, check out this article about the grandparent-grandchild activity set.

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