Are you looking for some screen-free indoor activities to keep your one year old busy during those bitter cold months? Or maybe you just need to keep your toddler occupied while you’re busy cooking, cleaning, or feeding your newborn.
I know if I don’t keep my toddler occupied, she’s right up on the kitchen table. Literally, standing on the kitchen table. #mytoddlerisamountaingoat
So, how can you keep your toddler engaged and learning without having to turn on the TV or hand them an iPad? How can you keep them busy all day long on those rainy or bitter cold days?
Listed below are 36 indoor activities that are great for one year olds. Even two year olds. Plus, they are all screen-free!
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36 Screen-Free Indoor Activities for One Year Olds
1.) Build a Fort
Grab some blankets and some chairs and build an awesome fort that you and your one year old can play under. Grab some pillows, books, and a lantern and have a book party in the fort.
2.) Peg Puzzles
Wooden peg puzzles are perfect for toddlers. Puzzles help develop hand-eye coordination and problem solving skills. Plus, they help reach a variety of different learning styles, so they are the perfect learning medium for all children.
The 6-8 piece wooden peg puzzles work great for one year olds, as they aren’t too overwhelming and still easy for little hands to manipulate. My little one loves putting all the pieces in and then dumping them all back out over and over again. Here are some of our favorite puzzles:
Can you tell my child LOVES animals?
Your toddler can learn all sorts of things through playing with magnets, such as animals, colors, numbers, and the alphabet. We like to spell out easy words on the fridge, such as mom, dad, cat, dog, and our child’s name. Our favorite magnets are:
4.) Sensory Bins
Let your one year old explore, discover, and create with toddler-safe sensory bins. This hands-on activity will let them learn about the world around them while exploring their senses and developing practical life skills (such as digging, filling, and scooping).
5.) Ball Pit
Who says you have to go anywhere to have some fun in a ball pit? You can get a collapsible one to have hours of fun in your own home. They are actually pretty cheap too. You can get a pit for just $10 and a bag of balls for around $30. You could also just buy a bag or two of balls and use a travel crib or Pack ‘n Play as the pit.
6.) Color a Box
Save the box your ball pit came in and let your toddler make a masterpiece. Give them some crayons and let them draw away. If they have trouble holding the regular ole’ skinny crayons, you could always make some chunky crayons in a muffin tin.
(In case you’re wondering, mommy did draw the flower. 🙂 )
7.) Make a Box Car
When your little is all don e coloring the box, turn it into a cardboard box car or a train. Punch some holes in one side of it, loop a string through, and make it a pull along ride.
8.) Reusable Sticker Book
My little girl could play with stickers for hours on end. I found a Melissa & Doug Reusable Sticker Pad at our local farm store, and now I don’t think I’ll ever buy any other stickers again. These stickers are so durable that it’s nearly impossible for a toddler to rip them.
These books come with 5 different scenes and hundreds stickers, which creates endless possibilities and sparks the imagination. We also use these as a learning tool, as we sit and talk about all the different animals/planets/characters, etc.
9.) Play with Blocks
Blocks rock because you can stack them, knock them down, and do it all over again. Plus, they help develop motor skills, hand-eye coordination, spatial skills, and problem-solving skills. You can also link them with math and language development by counting and talking about the different colors.
10.) Sensory Board
Start thinking outside the box and create a DIY sensory board for your toddler. Sensory boards create a stimulating environment and develop senses of hearing, sight, smell, touch, and even taste (depending on what you make). You can put all sorts of objects on them, such as an old light switch, a carpet square, a door latch, some keys, or some felt.
11.) Edible Painting
Create an appreciation for art with some edible painting. All you need is some yogurt, food coloring, and maybe a brush. I was able to find some plant-based food coloring at our local Whole Foods, and we used a basting brush for the paint brush. The yogurt doesn’t stick well to paper, so we just used the high chair tray as the “canvas.”
12.) Blow Bubbles
If you don’t mind you floors getting a little damp and soapy, bubbles are great toddler entertainment. You could even get a bubble machine for when you have your hands full with dishes, laundry, or a new baby.
13.) Ball Wall
Start saving paper towel and toilet paper rolls to make your own ball wall. This is a great activity for exploring gravity and developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. I set up the paper towel and toilet paper rolls at all sorts of angles and levels using tape, and then we used medium sized pom poms as the “balls.” My little one loved watching the pom poms “fly” through the tubes.
14.) Splish Splash in the Tub
Who says baths are only for getting clean? Taking a bath is great for anytime of day (especially for my water lover). Baths were my savior when I was pregnant. I would hop in the tub with my toddler and relax in the warm water while she played for a good half an hour.
Here are some of my child’s favorite bath toys:
15.) Playful Chores
One year olds are actually helpful when it comes to chores. Plus, they love helping and being just like mom/dad. My little one loves to help vacuum, cook, unload the dishwasher, feed the cats, and put the groceries away. I was even able to find a toy vacuum that actually works! Mommy was very pleased by this find. 😉
16.) Obstacle Course
Have a toddler that loves to run and climb? An obstacle course may be just the thing to burn off some of that energy while you’re stuck inside.
17.) Start a Band
Let your little one explore all sorts of instruments. Xylophone, drums, piano, and even a DIY guitar made with just a bread pan and some rubber bands. It’s never too early to start encouraging an appreciation for music.
18.) Explore a Tunnel
19.) Read Some Books
You can never go wrong with reading some books. “Lift the flap” and “touchy feely” books are perfect for the easily distracted one-year olds. “First word” books are great for this age as well.
20.) Egg Drop Baby Game
My little one loves putting objects in bins, bags, and other containers, so I knew this game would be a hit for her. If you have some plastic eggs and an empty container lying around the house, give this easy egg drop game a try.
21.) Kitchen/Grocery Play
Pretend play has so many benefits for young children. Whether they are pretending to go grocery shopping, baking in the kitchen, or being a doctor; they are learning problem-solving skills and growing their self-confidence. Pretend play also encourages creativity, abstract thinking, and communication.
Use some cardboard boxes to set up a little grocery area and give your little a shopping cart or bag. You could also invest in a play kitchen, so they can cook you whatever their little heart desires.
My top picks:
22.) Indoor Gardening
Your little one can learn first hand where food comes from with an indoor garden. Herbs are a great place to start if you’re a newbie. You could also just plant some pretty flowers or succulents as well. Put down some newspaper and allow your little to help scoop the soil and fill the pot. You’ll have a toddler with a green-thumb in no time. 🙂
23.) Body Parts
No items involved! Teaching your toddler their body parts will help expand their vocabulary and allow them to express their feelings and needs. Start by pointing to your nose and saying “nose.” Then ask your toddler “where is your nose?” Praise them when they get it correct and simply repeat the body part if they do it incorrectly.
24.) Stack Some Cups
Good ole’ stacking cups are perfect for little ones because they can bang them together, pretend to drink out of them, place them on their head, place other toys in them, and of course stack them and take them apart. Your toddler will learn positional words, like in, on, under and on top. You can also talk about sizes, colors, and numbers.
25.) Indoor Camping
Grab your tent and a lantern and have a living room campout. Sing some songs, tell some stories, eat some snacks, and maybe even take a nap in the tent. Grab some objects to help mimic nature, such as leaves, flowers, rocks, plastic bugs, and feathers.
26.) Have a Dance Party
Turn on some music and get those bodies moving!
27.) Shaving Cream Sensory Play
Shaving cream makes a great sensory activity, so grab a bottle from the bathroom, a cookie sheet, and some food coloring, and let your little explore away. Things will get messy though, so you may want to dress your little in old clothes and put down some newspaper.
If you’re starting to get cabin fever, you could get out and try the following indoor activities:
28.) Go for a Swim
Sign your toddler up for some swim lessons or just go for a leisurely swim at your local gym. Some hotels will even let you pay a small fee to use their pool without a room reservation.
29.) Visit the Library
Is your little one getting bored with all the books at home? Take her to the local library to pick out some new ones. You could even hit up a story time while you’re there. Most libraries also have play items for little ones, such as train tables, play kitchens, puppets, and more.
There are some gyms that start classes at 12 months of age. Our local gym even has a babytime open gym for ages 6-24months. Gymnastics will teach your toddler body awareness, how to climb and solve problems, and of course burn off loads of energy! They will be able to climb obstacle courses, walk on the beams, learn somersaults, hang on the bar, and jump in the pit.
31.) Postpartum Playgroup
Postpartum playgroups usually go well into the toddler years. It is great socialization for your little and yourself mama. You can connect with other moms while your little one can have fun playing with new toys and new friends.
32.) Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble is a great place to go when the weather is frightful. I like to grab a coffee and then we head over to the kids area where we look at some books and play with the stuffed animals and train table.
33.) Visit Your Local Science Center/ Children’s Museum
Head to your local science center or children’s museum where your child can explore animals, planets, dinosaurs, gravity, and much more. Our science center even has a room specifically designed for toddlers filled with bubbles, a play grocery store, sensory walls, and animal magnets.
34.) Indoor Playground
Head to the mall or a local restaurant with an indoor playground. You can relax and grab some food, and your little one can climb around and play.
35.) Head to the Zoo
Most zoos are actually open year round, and some are even filled with indoor exhibits perfect for exploring during those rainy or freezing days. The animals tend to be more active during the cooler months as well.
Our local zoo has parent-toddler classes specifically geared toward 1-2 year olds. They sing, read, explore sensory bins, and of course check out some pretty neat animals. Check your local zoo to see if they offer any classes.
36.) Take a Walk
Even if it’s cold or rainy, there are still plenty of places where you can get a walk in, such as the mall, the skywalks, or the gym.
Go Have Some Fun!
Now you have 36 ways to occupy your toddler without having to turn on the TV. You won’t have to fret when the weather is frightful, because you’ll have tons of tricks up your sleeve. You’ll be able to engage your child in play, encourage development and learning, and burn off some of that crazy toddler energy.
What About You?
What are you favorite indoor activities for young ones? How do you occupy your toddler when the weather isn’t nice? Feel free to share with us in the comments and share this post with other toddler moms.
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