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Activities to engage 1 - 2 years old

Still not able to believe that your baby is officially a toddler now? I totally get it. The last one year would have been exhilarating and equally tiring for you as a new parent, getting to learn, process, understand and handle your special person in life. Amidst all that was happening within you and around, your baby has grown up and transformed into a toddler. 

The little one would have learnt and experienced a lot over the last year and is all set to explore the world more on his/ her own. He is ready to take up new challenges and be more independent. If his focus keeps shifting from one thing to the other quite often, understand it is completely normal. Your kid is at a stage where he wants to try his hands at everything, but only for a short while.  

The below detailed activities are suitable for kids in the range of 1 - 2 years. If your kid isn't ready for any of these, take a pause and try them after few weeks. This is not just any list from the internet, but the ones I personally followed with my son and he totally enjoyed doing them. Don't worry if your kid is less than an year. You can go through my previous articles on engaging babies from 0 - 12 months. To You can begin here.

What to expect from a 1-2 years old?

  • Dances to rhythm
  • Climbs stairs on all fours
  • Picks and eats finger food
  • Walks alone and squats to pick an object
  • Pushes and pulls objects
  • Looks at you while playing or talking
  • Displays separation anxiety
  • Understands and responds to simple questions/ directions
  • Speaks small words
Fun with laundry basket
Who thought laundry basket could be fun? Not until I saw my little one all giggles inside it one day. Try giving them an empty basket. They love crawling in and out of it. Moreover babies love to push and pull objects. You can give half filled laundry basket and see your child play the pushing game. Hand over him some toys and show him how to put those inside the basket one by one and take them out. He will surely enjoy doing it. 

Climbing stairs
This is another fun activity your kid wants to repeat if they get a hold of it and most of the kids will be ready to try the stairs by this age. Of course, on their fours. Gradually they will excel climbing the stairs on legs holding on to the rails. It is an important skill your child needs to develop before turning 2 and it helps in building her leg muscles and improving balance.

Your child might not be able to climb steps on his own, but will most certainly love to play on the slide. So try placing him on the slide and see how excited he feels each time he slides down and will not let you stop. Besides it is a very good exercise for your hands😁Since winters are really tough at Canada, we bought this indoor slide. It is still my kid's favourite activity.

Read picture books together
Those who regularly follow my articles know that I always swear by reading. There is no age restriction to read books to kids. I would say, sooner the better. Read picture books to them like these - animals, birds, vegetables, fruits, colours, vehicles etc. They will surely enjoy reading and will be excited to spot them while they see them in real. It  is also a great means to improve and speed up their speaking skills and vocabulary.

Make animal sounds
When you come across any animal during your walks or while playing in your balcony or during your reading time, teach your child the sounds they make like meow-meow or bow-bow as shown in kid's all time favourite song - Old MacDonald had a farm. She will grasp it immediately and tries to repeat those sounds. She can also easily relate and remember the animal names with those sounds. You can place small animal toys in front of her or point out a picture in the animal book and ask her "What does the dog say?"

Visit zoo
Little ones love animals. Take them to a farm or zoo. They will be fascinated to see those animals and birds they saw only in books and TV so far. Remember to do a short trip of 2 hours, otherwise the kiddos might get tired and cranky.

Bubbles and Balls
No child is an exception. Everyone love playing with bubbles and balls. Blow bubbles and allow them to catch or pop them. This helps in improving their hand-eye coordination apart from giving them loads of fun. You can also use a bubble blower machine like this, so that you don't get tired in the process. Coz once you start blowing bubbles, your little one won't give you a break. Playing with a ball is very versatile and engaging. You can make him play throw & catch, kicking, roll back and forth and a lot more just with a ball. All these activities give him lot of physical exercise and help strengthen those tiny muscles. 

Hammer it out
Toddlers love hammering and it develops fine motor control and hand-eye coordination. Look for pounding toys like this which are very light and safe for kids of this age.

Playing with household items
We don't have to buy fancy toys. Simple household items can do the trick of engaging kids. While you are busy in the kitchen, give her a spoon and bowl. Voila, you have your personal band ready. You can also give her empty boxes, plastics cups etc. to stack. Hand over some straws or pipe cleaners and a colander. She can learn to insert them inside the holes and take them out. If you are in the garden, give her a small cup to water the plants. Another great way to engage her is to sort her toys and put them away at their correct place. This also brings in discipline to tidy up the place after play time.  

Kids are naturally attracted to colours. Give him few finger paints and a sheet of paper and help those tiny fingers to explore colours. Let them mix colours on own and learn what happens. 

Point out body parts
Once your child is familiar with her body parts like eyes, ears, hands etc., ask her to tell the names by pointing at her nose or ear and ask "What is it?" and confirm what she said with an excitement "You are correct" or something similar. You can also ask her "Where is my head?" 

Playing with muffin pans:
You just need a muffin pan, a bunch of pom poms or a box of crayons, you can innovate many interesting activities for the tiny tot. Just hand over these to your kid and tell him to place the pom poms or crayons in each muffin holder as according to their colour. You can also cut sheets of paper, mark numbers and place one in each muffin holder and ask him to put pom poms according to the number in muffin holder. You can also give him a spatula. He will enjoy putting pom poms/ crayons in and out of the holders using spatula. This activity also helps him learn to handle a spatula.

Play with blanket
Apart from playing peeka-boo with her, place a soft toy in the middle of a blanket and show her how to pull it around the room. This is another engaging activity for kids. You can also let her ride while you pull her through. 

Avoid boredom
Kids get attracted to new activities or toys easily and we often see them playing those with a lot of excitement just for few days. Later, their interest shifts to something else. So try rotating their toys, books and activities, to avoid boredom. I usually hide few of my son's regulars and hand over them few weeks later. This helps to keep him hooked to those for few more days.

Have a bedtime routine
Set a bed time routine to help your child ease off for the day. It could be reading a book or listening to a story or lullaby or tucking his favourite toy to sleep. This signals him that it is time to relax and have a good night sleep. Around this age, mine enjoyed reading books and listening to his favourite good night song from me, though I am a terrible singer😁

Finally, however small the achievement might be like spotting their hidden toy or humming their favourite song or planting you a kiss, appreciate and tell them how much it means to you. This makes them feel wonderful and encourages them to explore, learn and master new things. During this journey, always remember that we adults are in fact honing our creative side by inventing new means to keep the little bodies and brains active. So it is a win-win!!!

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