What To Teach A 1-Year-Old
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What To Teach A 1-Year-Old – The Ultimate Guide

As your baby approaches their first birthday, you might be amazed by how much they are evolving. They are most likely learning how to walk, saying more words, and wholly occupied with exploring the world around them. With all of this development happening, it’s the perfect time to find out what to teach your 1-year-old.

Because children are so fascinated with their surroundings, they are constantly learning every day. But, there are so many things you can teach your 1-year-old that are not only fun but will encourage even more learning and development.

As a bonus, all of these activities are things you can teach your 1-year-old at home!

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1. Teaching New Words

Your 1-year-old is probably saying simple things like, ‘mama’ and ‘dada,’ but as they get more into toddlerhood, their vocabulary will skyrocket!

When teaching your 1-year-old new words, it’s best to start with simple words for things that they encounter daily.

The Best Words To Start With:

Body Parts

Start with pointing out all of their major body parts, like their head, arms, legs, and stomach. After you’ve been telling them the names of their body parts, ask them to show you where they are.

For example, ask ‘where is your leg?’ or ‘where is your head?’. Once they get their major body parts down, you can start adding in things like their ears, nose, mouth, belly button, fingers, and so on.

Animal Names And Sounds

Kids tend to think that making animal noises is hilarious, but it’s crucial to learn the names of the animals first! We have this book of 100 animals, and it’s perfect for teaching your toddler about the animals that they don’t see regularly. Once your kiddo is starting to pick up the names of the animals, you can move on to their sounds.

Food And Feeding Essentials

Every time you make a meal or snack for your little one, make sure to tell them what each food is. Also, it’s a great time to start naming all of their utensils and tableware, as they will start using them more frequently.

Tips For Teaching A 1-Year-Old New Words

Talk To Them!

An excellent way to teach your child new words is to talk to them – and talk to them all day! Also, try to avoid any baby talk. You’ll want them to hear words as they are supposed to sound.

When you talk to your child as you would anyone else throughout the day, you expose them to a vast vocabulary. They might not understand everything you are saying, but they will begin to connect the dots more as they get older.

Play The ‘Where is’ Game

When my son was around 1-year-old, he loved playing the ‘Where is’ game. For this game, all you do is ask your child where certain things are and encourage them to point to the object.

Your child most likely won’t be able to repeat the words you are saying, but they are learning what each object is called. As your child gets a little older, you can encourage them to repeat or sound out the words.

2. The Joy Of Reading

Reading books with your child isn’t only crucial for language development, but it’s also a fun activity that anyone can enjoy! When you start teaching your 1-year-old to enjoy reading from an early age, it’s a trait that can stick with them for their whole life.

Tips For Teaching A 1-Year-Old To Love Reading

Choose Short And Simple Books

At one year old, your child doesn’t have the long attention span required to enjoy lengthy stories. It’s best to choose stories that are quick to read, with fun illustrations that entertain your little one.

You’ll also love: The Best Board Books For Toddlers

Try Interactive Books

If your child doesn’t seem interested in reading typical picture books, try some interactive books! Between lift-the-flap books and touch-and-feel books, I’m sure your child will find a few they love!

Let Them Turn The Page

When reading board books with your 1-year-old, show them how to turn each page and let them do it every time.

Letting your child turn the page will help keep them interested, and the motion of turning the page helps them develop the small muscles in their hands.

3. Creativity

When thinking of what to teach your 1-year-old, creativity might not come to mind. Many people assume all kids are creative. While that can be primarily true, some kids need a little more encouragement than others.

Tips For Teaching Your 1-Year-Old Creativity

Show Them How To Use Different Art Supplies

When teaching your 1-year-old about creativity, it’s beneficial to show them how to use different art supplies. Demonstrate how to hold crayons and paintbrushes, and show them what each thing does.

It’s also great to let your child use their fingers to paint, whether it’s traditional finger painting or mess-free finger painting!

Have Supplies Easily Accessible

I have found that it’s much easier for my son to be creative when he wants to, rather than at a specific planned ‘art time.’ That’s why it’s a fantastic idea to have age-appropriate art supplies readily available.

Plus, having regular art time is excellent for your child’s development. Art time can encourage fine motor skill development and teach them cause-and-effect!

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4. Colors

Next on this list of what to teach your 1-year-old is colors. When your child is learning about colors, it’s helpful to not only say the names of colors but also have your child match colors.

There are many different ways you can teach your child about matching and naming colors. You can use colored pompoms, pieces of paper, colored popsicle sticks, or even balls and sort them into corresponding bowls.

5. Pretend Play

Toddlers love to copy what they see you doing. Whether it’s cleaning something around the house, typing on a computer, or making meals, they want to do the same thing you are!

Encouraging your 1-year-old to pretend play is great for supporting their imagination, as well as their language development. You might also find that your child starts to have more independent playtime when pretending.

While your child can play pretend with many things in your home, like pots and pans or a teddy bear, for example, you can also get them certain toys to pretend with. Toys like doctor kits or pretend food is always an excellent place to start.

You’ll also love: The Best Toys For 1-Year-Olds

6. Independence

As your 1-year-old is developing essential skills like learning how to walk, you might find they want to be more independent. Encouraging your toddler’s independence is crucial for their self-esteem, as well as helping their motor skills develop.

Tips For Teaching Your 1-Year-Old Independence

Remember Your Patience

The number one tip for teaching your 1-year-old independence is to remain patient. Your little one will be a bit slow at completing tasks, and there will be messes along the way. But the good news is that they will learn from the mess!

Also, try not to correct every little thing they do. As long as they are on the right track for what they are trying to accomplish, let them do their thing!

Start With Simple Chores

As I’ve mentioned before, children love to help you with what you’re doing. A great way to promote your child’s independence is to have them help you with chores.

While many household chores are perfect for 1-year-olds, you can always have your kiddo help you clean up messes.

For example, have your child help you pick up their toys at the end of the day or wipe up any spills that happen. They will love the sense of accomplishment after completing the task!

Independent Meal Times

Another fantastic way to support your child’s independence is to let them loose at mealtimes. By that, I mean let them have their own fork or spoon and let them practice feeding themselves.

You can also help your child learn how to pour their drink before the meal. Make sure they have an appropriately-sized cup, a small pitcher, and prepare for some mess in the beginning.

Getting Dressed

Lastly, helping your toddler learn how to get dressed isn’t only great for avoiding those getting dressed struggles, but it can also be helpful when you start potty training. You might be able to prevent some accidents if your child is already a pro at removing their clothes.

Also, letting your child pick their outfits out is another excellent way of promoting independence. When first starting, let your child choose between a couple of options to avoid any struggle with deciding.

7. Problem-Solving

Problem-solving might sound a little advanced for what to teach a 1-year-old, but it’s more simple than you may think.

One of the easiest ways to teach your 1-year-old problem-solving is to introduce puzzles. In addition to problem-solving, puzzles also promote hand-eye coordination and fine motor skill development.

When choosing puzzles for your 1-year-old, these wooden puzzles are a great option. The pieces are easy for little hands to hold onto, and the puzzles aren’t overly complicated.

8. Trust In Themselves

One of the most essential things to teach your 1-year-old is to trust their instincts. Especially as your child learns how to walk, it can be easy to blurt out, ‘be careful!’.

But when we constantly tell our kids to be careful, it can make them a little unsure of things. Plus, the words’ be careful’ aren’t actually helpful in most situations.

The best way to help your child trust themself is to ensure that their surroundings are safe and to resist the urge to say ‘be careful.’

For example, if your child is at the playground climbing something and you feel the need to say ‘be careful, try to offer them some direction. Try giving them a hint about how to get down, and let their problem-solving skills go to work!

You’ll also love: The Best Outdoor Toys For Toddlers

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9. Playing With Others

While you can’t expect a 1-year-old to share very well, teaching your child how to play with others is valuable for teaching them social skills.

It’s good to note that playing with others doesn’t equal sharing. Playing alongside others is beneficial because the children still get to interact and get a sense of taking turns. Playing alongside other kids can also give them a sense of boundaries.

10. Simple Manners

When it comes to teaching your child about manners, it’s never too early to start! Even though your child might be closer to 18-months-old before they start using their manners, it doesn’t hurt to set the standard now.

I have found the easiest way to teach your 1-year-old manners is to be the example. Don’t slack on using your manners at home! Always say please and thank you to your child, and encourage them to use their manners when appropriate, too.

11. Stacking Objects

Teaching the fundamentals of stacking to your 1-year-old is perfect for teaching them cause-and-effect. Stacking objects also promotes fine motor skill development and hand-eye coordination.

The easiest way to teach your 1-year-old how to stack is with blocks. These blocks are easy for your child to hold, and they are big enough to make sturdy structures.

Another great way to encourage stacking is with these cups. These stacking cups are lovely because they can stack on top or nest inside each other, plus they are budget-friendly!

12. Singing And Dancing

There are many fun songs to teach your 1-year-old, and the benefits of singing and dancing are great, too!

Singing and dancing with your toddler is not only excellent bonding time, but it’s also great for their language and gross motor skill development.

When encouraging your little one to sing and dance with you, you can put some music on or teach them songs with simple dances. Songs like Pat-A-Cake, The Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Head, Shoulders, Knees, And Toes are all great songs to start with. And if you don’t remember the lyrics or the dance moves, it’s always helpful to YouTube it!

13. Discipline

Once your child turns one year old, it’s a great time to start teaching them discipline. Now, many people think ‘punishment’ when they hear the word ‘discipline,’ but the two are entirely different things.

Discipline means teaching your child the life skills they need to control their emotions and behavior acceptably.

As you start to teach your 1-year-old discipline, keep in mind that it can be a repetitive process. It can take a little while before everything clicks for your kiddo, but your hard work will pay off in the end!

14. Unconditional Love

Lastly and most importantly, teach your child what it feels like to be unconditionally loved. I’m sure this is something that you already do every day, but a reminder never hurts.

When you choose to be mindful of how you spend time with your children, it will only strengthen the bond and trust between you.

I recently read this book, and found it to be an awesome resource for how to give your child unconditional love, even when you’re exhausted and dealing with your toddlers big emotions.

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Keep in mind that all kiddos learn at a different rate and that these things to teach your 1-year-old are a general guideline. If you are ever concerned about your child’s development, don’t hesitate to reach out to their pediatrician!

What were your favorite tips on what to teach your 1-year-old? I would love to know in the comments below!

Rachel Sig 3

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  1. You’ve hit every major point in this post, I couldn’t agree more with everything you’ve laid out here! I loved being read to as a child, so I do the same for my babies and they’ve developed such a love for books. It’s so important. I need to do some more art activities with my kiddos, thanks for the great suggestions!

  2. This is a great list of things to teach a 1-year-old. It is the best age in my opinion. So much learning going on all day and they are so excited about all things!

    1. Rachael, this is an awesome article. These are all great suggestions. I love your definition of discipline and couldn’t agree more. I’m pinning this to my Parenting Tips board.

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