41 Fun Sensory Activities For Your 1-Year-Old’s Brain Development

Ally Villar
·11-min read

Even at just age one, there are a variety of fun activities your little tots can participate in on their own – well, with a little help from you of course. These sensory activities for 1-year-olds will not only help your bub develop new skills, but they are also safe and all possible to create at home!

From arts, to physical play, and to exploring sounds, your 1-year-old can surely enjoy these simple sensory activities that will improve their cognitive, fine motor skills, and creativity.

41 Super Fun And Easy Sensory Activities For 1-Year-Old

Arts & Crafts Activities

sensory activities for 1 year old
sensory activities for 1 year old

Image source: iStock

1. Mess-free canvas art
Provide a canvas to your baby and add a few drops of paint on it then wrap plastic around it. With the drops of paint ready inside the plastic, encourage your baby to push their little fingers around to draw shapes and mix the colours on the canvas.

This way your child can finger paint without having to get colourful paint all over them and/or your living room. Plus, now you get to hang a wonderful piece of art created by your little one!

2. Baby’s hand and foot drawing
Stamp your little tot’s hands and feet on some paint and create different shapes or animals with their handprints and footprints.

Painting on your baby’s hands and feet can be a new sensory experience. Just make sure to use washable paint and have fun making colourful creations!

3. Watercolour painting
Gather some watercolour paint and colourful construction papers and encourage your 1-year-old to paint anything to their heart’s content.

4. Playing with food
We do normally teach our kids never to play with their food. But if you just set aside table manners for just a bit, you can create or ‘draw’ various things with your baby’s snacks.

These could include drawing shapes with syrup on the pancakes or creating a painting of smiley faces with yoghurt.

5. Sensory bottles
Fill up empty water bottles with things that would attract your baby’s attention such as glitters, colourful beads ,or water with drops of food colouring. S

Securely tape the bottle cap so that nothing slips out. Now allow your 1-year-old to watch the bottle’s content swirl around as they tip it back and forth.

6. Cereal necklaces
Great for your baby’s fine motor skills and as a sensory activity, you can string together cereal pieces into yarn to create matching necklaces for accessory. It’s also a yummy after snack.

7. Hand or footprint remembrance
Commemorate your child’s baby stage by creating ornaments, artworks or other crafts with their handprint and footprint. Continue to do through the year and see just how much your little tot will grow up each year!

8. Paper window mosaics
With some paper and pieces of plastic wrap, you and your baby will be able to create your own window mosaics with any design that you like to cut out.

Stick it over your kitchen window or anywhere around the house to see the sunlight shine through your handmade mosaic.

9. Polkadot art with ‘dot’ stickers
Spare a bunch of labelling “dot” stickers from your stationery and have your baby draw shapes with it on a blank piece of paper.

Let their imagination run wild with what they could make with these little round stickers.

10. Uncooked pasta necklaces
An alternative to cereal, you can also create small necklaces with your baby using uncooked dry pasta of different shapes and string them together.

11. Homemade snow globes
You can actually customise a snow globe specially made for your baby at home by emptying out a small bottle or jar and sticking any small toy inside.

Fill it up with water and glitter then seal it shut. Voilà! You’ve got your own snow globe.

12. Bathtub painting
To clean up your baby’s art work station quick and easy, you can let them paint inside an empty bathtub with washable paint.

Afterwards, you can just rinse off the paint and prepare a bath for your little tot.

Physical Activities

1. Sorting balls
Prepare two bowls, one filled with ping pong or golf balls and the other empty. Then hand your baby a spoon or scoop so they can transfer the balls from one bowl to the other.

A fun activity that is also great for your little tot’s fine motor skills as well as their hand-eye coordination. Pretty soon they might even be motivated to play actual ping pong or golf when they grow up!

2. Paper towel roll chute
Simply tape a paper towel roll or toilet paper roll to the wall sideways at a height your baby can reach. Then let them drop cotton balls or other small round objects they can shoot inside the paper roll chute.

Your baby will surely enjoy watching the cotton balls roll out of your DIY chute.

3. Cardboard box castle
Before you throw away all those extra cardboard boxes you have lying around at home, you might want to create a small cardboard castle.

Just stick the boxes together with open tunnels they can pass through like an indoor playground.

4. DIY ball pit
Instead of bringing your child to an indoor playground, you can make their own ball pit at home by filling up an empty plastic pool with balls for them to play around in.

5. Rice box
Fill up an empty tub with rice and let your child explore it with their little hands or give them a spoon and scoop to dig through the pile.

You can even hide hidden treasures such as toys for them to find! Just make sure to monitor them while playing lest they end up taking a nibble of rice grain.

6. Stacking plastic eggs shells
You can still use your plastic eggs even without Easter anywhere close by cracking them open in half and letting your baby stack them on top of each other.

Make sure they don’t tilt over!

7. Plastic cup towers
Stack up some extra plastic cups you have and build cup towers with your baby. As light as plastic cups are, there won’t be a problem knocking them down and just rebuild new ones.

You can also make mini plastic cup archways for your little one to crawl under.

8. Nature walk
Take your little one to your garden and have them walk barefoot on the grass to feel the soil and leaves under their feet. Just make sure they stray away from anything sharp or anything dangerous to step on.

9. Animal pretend play
Show your baby pictures of various animals and act them out in front of them. Sound out the noises they make and act out their usual movements.

10. Mini sandbox
If you’ve got a tub that your baby can fit in, fill it up with sand as well as a few of their toys and voila! You’ve got yourself a mini sandbox inside the house.

You can also give them a few cups and shovels to make small sandcastles! If you’re worried about the mess, you can place plastic bags or a towel under the tub to make cleaning up all the sand easier.

11. DUPLO wash sensory bin
Your baby’s DUPLO blocks can be used for more than just building. Fill up a tub with water and mix in some baby wash or dish soap then dump in a bunch of DUPLO blocks.

Let your baby splash around and enjoy the small colourful DUPLO puddle you’ve made them!

Play Activities

1. Discover basket
Place small tokens inside a basket or any container available around the house and let your child explore its contents.

This helps in letting your child know they are free to explore things on their own as well as make use of their sense while making new discovering.

2. Sand doodles
If you have a small empty box lying around your house, take it and draw some lines inside.

Afterwards, pour sand over the lines and have your 1-year-old trace their tiny fingers over them.

3. Sticky note peek-a-boo!
Prepare pictures of either your family members or your baby’s favourite cartoon characters and place sticky notes over them.

Lay them down in front of your child so they can play peek-a-boo by flipping the sticky notes up to reveal the faces they’ve come to know.

4. Sock puppets
You might want to think twice about throwing out your old worn out socks and instead transform them into funny little sock puppets that your baby will surely love.

Just draw faces on the top of the sock or maybe even stick on some goggly eyes and you’ve got yourself a puppet!

5. Face portrait
With a printed picture of your baby’s face, have them point out their eyes, nose and lips. A simple yet fun way to get them to learn the parts of their face.

6. Touch-and-feel board
Fill up a piece of cardboard with different types of material for your baby to touch such as felt or fabric paper, ribbons, pompoms, bubble wrap, tin foil, feathers and just anything you can find.

You can stick square pieces of each on the surface and let your child enjoy their new sensory board.

7. The feel of vegetable peels
Another great way to help kids experience a new sense of touch is letting them play with the peeled vegetable skins. It’s not only a natural, it’s also a great way of getting your little one acquainted with healthy food.

8. Playing with loofas
Loofas are a unique feel to the skin. So why not hang a couple with a string and let your baby reach for them to experience their unusual texture.

9. Sensory plastic bags
Place a pile of both hard and soft trinkets inside a sealed plastic bag and let your baby feel them from the outside. This also keeps them safe from choking on any of the objects that may be hazardous like legos.

10. Playing with magnets
Simply place small magnetic trinkets inside a plastic container such as bolts and seal it shut. Then let your baby use a magnetic stick to watch the things inside get pulled along.

11. Slime
Playing with slime has become quiet the trend nowadays. So much so that there are edible versions that are safe for your baby.

Try searching edible slime online or make some yourself at home and you might even enjoy the funny lumps of blob yourself.

12. Rainbow spaghetti
Prepare some cooked spaghetti and put them in separate plastic bags. Then add different food colouring to each and make sure each is fully transformed to their given colour.

Mix them all together and your baby will surely love their plate of rainbow spaghetti!

13. Play-dough
Similar to slime, you can find baby-safe play-dough recipes that you can make at home for your little one to play with. The easily morphing play-dough will be great for your child to explore making shapes of their own and express their creativity.

Sound And Music Activities

sensory activities for 1 year old
sensory activities for 1 year old

Image source: iStock

1. Water bottle shakers
For a fun recyclable sensory toy for your baby, grab an empty water bottle and fill it up with either colourful beads, rocks, popcorn, rice or anything you have around the house.

Afterwards, just tape the cap and maybe even design the homemade rattle you’ve just made with stickers or ribbons.

2. Music makers
Once you’ve finished up a box of tissues, wrap a few rubber bands around it and your baby can have their own little homemade harp!

You can even design the tissue box if you’d like with paint, stickers or ribbons.

3. Kitchen instruments
Layout a few (safe) kitchen utensils and plastic bowls around your baby and let them play around with them. Babies this age enjoy this game as they use their hand and eyes to coordinate and the sound is a whole different sensory experience for them.

4. Play with bells
If you’ve got little bells that your baby can use, let them play along with them. The ringing sounds of bells are sure to entertain your little one.

5. Tub drums
Simply over a few tubs or buckets you might have around the house and let your baby drum away!

Happy playing!


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