The old saying “the days are long, but the years are short” could not resonate more with me. I am approaching my sons first birthday, and I am shocked by how quickly the time went by. I have been extremely fortunate to have witnessed every first year achievement with his smiles, laughs, rolls, sitting, standing, etc. Each and every new thing he does brings me the absolute greatest joy. Everyday we are constantly playing on his mat with blocks, balls, and other toys that help with his development. I recently started to wonder if there are specific daily activities for a 1 year old I should start to look into.
Your babies milestones at year 1
Every baby develops and grows at their own pace. But did you know there are certain “milestones” we should be tracking as our babies grows? These milestones are things like laughing, sitting, rolling over, babbling, etc. However, are there milestones and skill sets my son should be learning by now? I started to wonder how I can help him learn new things, and what daily activities I should be teaching.
You can read the full milestone list here. They are broken out between movement, hand and finger, language, cognitive, and social and emotional. Based on these concepts, I put together my top 5 daily activities for my 1 year old. Every day I try and practice these activities, and he has fun with each of these! I am so excited to share with you this list of daily activities for your 1 year old.
5 Daily activities to boost development
Daily activity 1: Wave hi and goodbye
Waving hi and goodbye could just melt your heart! The idea that your baby is beginning to understand the world around them becomes a reality when they initiate a hi and bye! Most babies begin to wave hi and bye by around 10 to 11 months old. The easiest way to encourage this behavior is to always wave and say the words hi and bye when you leave your home (or the room), and then again when you return. Take your little ones hand and also practice the motion of waving with them. My son gets so excited, he still uses both hands to wave! This is such an easy daily activity for your 1 year old.
Daily activity 2: Nodding no and yes
There was a very detailed study done by Viktoria A. Kettner and Jeremy I. M. Carpendale from Simon Fraser Univeristy that discusses nodding and communication. Most babies will learn to shake their head “no” early on, but may not understand the meaning as rejecting something. They can shake their head “no or yes” because they are tired, mimicking your behavior, or just as a basic response. It is also understood that shaking their head “no” also tends to come before “yes”.
One result from the study was that shaking your head “no” may be more of a natural reaction than shaking your head “yes”. We also learned that that these gestures develop once infants are required to answer questions and become participants in conversations that require turn taking. This is a daily activity we all do without knowing it. Now we have to be more consciousness on how we are signaling our gestures for our 1 year old.
We noticed my son shaking his head “no” around 9 months, and has just began shaking his head “yes” at around 11 months. It still doesn’t seem like he is fully aware of what he is doing, rather he is mimicking our behavior. Which is completely fine! The best way to get your little one to engage in nodding their head, is to dramatically nod yours! You can also help by gently moving their head up and down, and side to side.
Daily activity 3: Pointing
“You should never point at things”! Except if you are a baby of course! Then it is adorable! My son is pointing at everything and everyone all day. I am constantly narrating and verbalizing everything he points out. This skill typically appears between 9 to 12 months.
The best way to use this skill as a daily activity for your 1 year old, is to narrate each object. “That is a table, lamp, stove, etc.” Or you can initiate the pointing and say “this is your head, shoulders, knees, toes, etc.” Or “where is your teddy bear?” Then point in that direction. Another way is to explain colors by grouping 3 or more and say “this is red” while pointing. This way you are also helping practice communication, and repeating words/objects. Your little one also finds this as a fun little game!
Daily activity 4: Standing and cruising
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When my son first pulled himself up to stand, I was so nervous! I was spotting him and his shaky legs, and cheering him on with encouragement. Only a few weeks after, he was pulling himself up like a pro!
According to basic standing development, the average milestones are as follows:
- Stand, holding on to things between 6 1/2 to 8 1/2 months
- Pull to a standing position between 8 to 10 months
- Stand for about 2 seconds between 9 to 11 1/2 months
- Stand alone between 10 1/2 to 14 months
The best way to encourage standing and cruising is letting them go and explore! Trust that they are learning their bodies, and will explore at their own pace. Let them pull up on soft objects such as a couch or ottoman at first, and have them walk along a couch as they become more comfortable with their steps. My son absolutely loves his Sit to Stand Learning Walker, and it is great early on as well. It grew with him for each stage! He is now pushing this around on his own, all over our home (at 11 months old). This was a daily activity I greatly encouraged, because I was so proud! It is so fun and crazy to see my 1 year old cruising!
Daily activity 5: Simple songs and rhymes
Nursery rhymes and repetition are so important for a 1 year old’s development! They help children experience and learn the rhythm of basic language. Babies will begin to hear sounds and syllables which is needed for reading and writing. The major benefits are:
- Developing phonemic awareness
- Building memory and articulation
- Understanding concepts by framing a story
- Development of social routines
- Listening skills
Those are some important skill sets! Nursery rhymes have become a staple in my daily activities. However, I have to admit, I could not remember 1 full nursery rhyme when I wanted to sing to my son! I am so happy I found the book Story Book Rhymes. It has your basic nursery rhymes, plays each one as you turn the pages, and has each verse written down so you can follow along. Check out some more awesome books for your 1 year old.
Your 1 year old genius
The most important thing to keep in mind daily is to make sure you are having fun! If you do one thing, it should be to get down on your floor and play. The rest will come naturally as your little one grows. They will start to direct their play, and show you what they need from you. These daily activities will be a great boost to their brain, and you will certainly have a baby genius on your hands!