As a parent, you may find yourself busy with work or household chores, but you still want to engage your 1-year-old in meaningful activities that do not involve screens. Involving your little one in screen-free activities not only helps to develop their cognitive, motor, and social skills but also increases their independence and creativity. But it's not always easy to find something that keeps their attention and requires only light supervision! Read on to discover a few ideas that may give you a bit of time while also strengthening important cognitive skills.
- Noodle stringing - Work out those fine motor skills by giving your baby a bowl of uncooked, tubular pasta (rigatoni works best because the hole is so big) and some yarn. Model how to string the pasta onto the yarn and let your child try them themselves. Alternatively, you can string yarn-fuls of pasta and let them enjoy pulling them on and off.
- Untangling activities - Children at this age are learning about cause and effect, and pulling on, unwinding, and tying objects can be very fascinating for them as they can see the effects of their actions directly. Give them a ball of colorful pipe cleaners or put those same pipe cleaners through the holes of a colander. You'll notice an adorable look of concentration on their face as they work hard on extracting them!
- Tupperware play - It's crazy how interested small children are in everyday objects. Watch your little one go to town on a collection of plastic tupperware containers with lids and little objects trapped inside. Put small stuffed animals, toy cars, and plastic balls inside of tupperware containers of various shapes and sizes and give them the space to explore. They'll love opening the lids, pouring out the contents, and attempting to replace said lids. Just be sure whatever toys you're using aren't choking hazards!
- Ball drops - Use some painters tape to attach toilet paper and paper towel rolls on your wall at your child's height. Then, give them balls just big enough to drop through. (Remember, you don't want anything too small. You want them to be able to do this activity with light supervision.) Pom poms work great, as well. Again, children at this age are big fans of cause and effect so this activity is sure to be a hit!
- Stacking - Plastic cups, wooden blocks, plastic tupperware containers… Your child will love stacking objects as high as they can and watching them fall down. This activity helps them exercise their fine motor skills, problem-solving skills, and scratch their cause and effect itch! Make sure the materials they're using are big enough to be safe. Lego-like blocks are too small and, therefore, dangerous for very small children.