How to determine what are age appropriate activities for 1 year olds

Inside: How to determine what are age appropriate activities for 1-year-olds and ideas on how to engage your toddler into creative play.

I remember the joy when my daughter started exploring the world around 1 year of age …  seeing her making first steps and learning her first words … I recall warmth around my heart observing her growing and learning.

I also clearly remember the confusion about what toys should I get to her. That precious human being, soaking all that she sees and hears … totally depending on me and my choices. I was scared that I’ll do something wrong and give her something she wasn’t supposed to play with. I had no idea what are age appropriate indoor activities for 1-year-olds.

So, if you have a 1-2 year old and juggling with how to engage your toddler at home, I totally understand how you feel.

Fostering children’s creativity is an important aspect of parenting. As parents we want our children to grow up as happy and successful open-minded individuals.  But sometimes it can be confusing and overwhelming not knowing what are our child’s developmental abilities or what toy is age appropriate.

One thing is for sure, you have to start early and make informed choices.  Continue reading and you will see that engaging children into creative play don’t have t be overwhelming, messy or time-consuming.

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How to determine what are age-appropriate activities for 1-2-year-olds

With young children all comes to exploring the senses, creativity, and imagination. The final outcome of how the play will end is not important at all. It is the process itself that engages kids allowing them to learn from their own experience.

There will be plenty of time when they grow up bigger to focus on a project goal. The process is the one that builds creativity and independence, the final outcome is the one that builds self-esteem.

Now, I could be specific and tell you exactly what toys should you buy, but that is not how you will be successful.

Not every child of the same age is at the same developmental level, not every child has the same affection to exact same toys.

Instead, I will teach you how you can make your own conclusions with just observing your child.

When you listen and observe your child while playing you can get an idea is it a right activity or not.

These 2 clues will help you determine if an activity is appropriate or not for your child.

After you introduce the creative activity to your toddler you should observe:

1. If the activity you introduced is too easy your toddler will easily become bored or not interested at all. Be creative and find a way how to increase difficulty by adding more elements to the play.

2. If the activity is too hard and above his developmental milestones, your toddler will easily become frustrated and give up. Put the toy away and try introduce it again in a few weeks.

As you see, finding a golden middle is the key. And to find it you will need to balance between those two.

Now when you know what should you observe, let’s see what activities are the best to nurture toddler’s creativity.


What indoor activities for 1 year olds help explore the senses, creativity and the imagination

1.Building activities. An obvious choice would be simple wooden or foam building blocks or Lego Duplo bricks but the child may also experiment building with small cardboard boxes, plastic cups or objects from your house.

2.Sensory exploration using new and interesting materials to explore, like sand, water, ice, slime, mud, rocks, cooked pasta, raw rice, foam… For this type of play, you can use a big container or the best would be water or sand activity table which allows a child to stand and move around easily.

3.Modeling with kids safe and nontoxic clay or homemade playdough is a great way to let them be creative and use their imagination.

4.Reading to your baby from early days expands their world and vocabulary. Not to mention you are building lifelong affection to books. Remember to focus on a process itself, as young kids can’t resist just turning pages on their own. And that too is perfectly fine as long you encourage regular “readings” they will grow out of that phase eventually.

5.Exploring arts. That’s right. It’s never to early start doing art, also with keeping in mind that the process of creating and exploring different art materials is important, not the final outcome.

6.Sorting activities and matching games are one of the toddler favorites.  Any toys or objects you can find in a house will serve them well. Like yogurt cups, caps, even matching socks while you are folding laundry. There is also a variety of stacking toys for toddlers to choose from.

7.Solo play is an important aspect that helps to build your child’s confidence, creativity, and imagination. Using proven strategy with inviting your child to play alone you will set great foundations for him to play alone and entertain himself without feeling bored, or following you around the house, begging you to play with him.


How to keep your toddler safe while playing

  • Always closely supervise activities with a young child. Even if you introduced independent play, keep looking with one eye of what is your child doing.
  • Remove all small pieces that represent choking hazard. Read these tips to help you determine what’s safe and what’s not.
  • Remove all sharp materials from their reach like sticks, pencils, scissors, knives.
  • Above all make sure you are using kids safe and nontoxic materials.

Where do you get everything you need for engaging creative play for your child

DIY-Motor-Skills-Toys fine motor development for toddlers

Do it yourself toys and games for young kids

When you go through the list above you will see that most of the materials you already have at home and you are ready to prepare some of these activities right away. If you like to make things, you can do it yourself.

Some ideas for creative kids activities you may want to do on your own:

Sensory exploration with small ocean world.
Painting with water is safe for young ones and fun.
Make your own Waldorf wooden blocks
Simple and inexpensive fine motor activities for toddlers.
Spider-web basket for 1 year old.

Toddler age appropriate play and creative toys

Developmentally appropriate toys for 1- year olds

For parents who prefer bought toys, there are some excellent ideas and toys that will let your child be creative. After all, these make perfect gift for your child. 

From now on you have everything you need to successfully engage your young toddler into creative play. You can now relax a little bit and enjoy his first steps and first words with warmth around your heart, ‘cause you have everything under control.

If you find these ideas for indoor activities for 1 year olds helpful please take a moment to share it with other parents who want to raise creative children too and may benefit from it. Thank you.

Here is how to determine what are age appropriate activities for 1-year olds

Lily Zunic

I believe every person is creative and every craft project is beautiful when you create for the journey of your heart.


  1. Patricia | 4th Apr 19

    Thank you for the usefull tips and inspiration! I will definetely try this☺️

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