Summertime can be a challenging season for parents. Keeping the kids stimulated and entertained with fun summertime activities can be exhausting. Parents of very young children may also find it nearly impossible to keep their babies happily entertained. But how? Some parents want to go big and take their one-year-old to Disney World. Other parents feel that giving their baby a plush Mickey Mouse is enough. Most of us fall somewhere in between. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, keeping our kids, even the youngest, stimulated and entertained during the long summer months is important.
Daniel J Siegel, M.D. and Mary Hartzel, M.Ed.’s book Parenting from the Inside Out explain that babies have implicit memory in the first year of life. This means they may not remember actual events and the words spoken to them. But these words and events still affect our children’s brains and “create a filter that patterns how we channel our perceptions and construct our responses to the world.” After their first birthday, babies begin to develop their explicit memory, which means they will start to remember actual events that happen to them. So, maybe now is not the best time to splurge on that trip to Disney!
This summer, focus more on simpler things. Summer always invites making special plans and special summer-related activities. Extravagant experiences are great, but they are less about the experience and more about how we experience them, especially for babies. Activities for one-year-olds are about awakening their senses and making them giggle.
Summertime Activities for Your One-Year-Old
We have compiled a list of age-appropriate summertime activities to delight your busy one-year-old. But remember that from the time a baby turns one to turning two, throughout being “one,” they develop and grow a lot. If an activity listed below doesn’t seem age-appropriate for your one-year-old, please don’t despair! Each one develops at their own pace. Just choose what works for you, your baby, and your family!
One-year-olds (usually) love water. Whether they are already standing up or still sitting down, the sensory experience of water and splashing around is pure joy for this age group. The benefit of the summertime is that it doesn’t only have to be bath time to enjoy it! Here are some ideas of how a one-year-old can play with water:
- They can sit or stand in a tub of water or a mini pool. You can gently kick their feet in the water or splash them up to their neck, usually eliciting many giggles.
- Water toys that they can stand or sit at and splash around, like a splash pad.
- Sprinkler attachment to a hose to run through (or be carried through).
- Water toys with running water that they can put their hands under.
- Many outdoor parks have sprinklers or splash pads that are fun for one-year-olds. If they are walking, make sure to bring water shoes!
For one-year-olds, bubbles are fascinating and so much fun! You can buy a simple wand with bubbles, or you can also purchase an automatic bubble machine.
Combine bubbles with water play by adding them to your pool or tub of water (you can add shampoo or any soap)!
The playground and/or park are always a lot of fun. Just look for one with a bucket swing and a small age-appropriate slide. It is also fun to bring a picnic lunch or snack, lay down a blanket, and bring some toys or books for your baby to play with under a tree.
Your backyard can easily be equipped with age-appropriate outdoor toys and outdoor activities that will turn any yard into a toddler haven. Consider installing a small playscape with a swing or slide, or hang a swing from your back patio. Or you could build a canvas tent in the yard for outside play. And you can never go wrong with outdoor push toys like a toy lawnmower!
Explore the Neighborhood
Go for walks around your neighborhood or any outdoor area. One-year-olds love people-watching! Take a stroll while pushing your baby in their stroller or, for added fun and visibility, in a small car that they “drive” and that you can push them around in.
During the summer, there are often outdoor music festivals and concerts. Babies love music as long as it is not too loud. If your baby is extra sensitive to loud sounds, invest in a pair of noise-canceling headphones for kids to still enjoy the sights and sounds while protecting their ears.
Make Healthy Treats
Let your little one help you make frozen fruit pops! One-year-olds usually love fruit, and you can take advantage of fresh fruit in the summer. Freezing it in the form of a popsicle is fun and healthy to hold and enjoy. If your little one is sensitive to something cold, you can leave it out to defrost a little before giving it to them. You can use either teetherpops or pops in a tray.
Take a Field Trip
Take your curious tot to the zoo (petting zoo is extra fun), aquarium, animal sanctuary, or even a pet store. In addition to bigger zoos, many cities have smaller places with animals such as birds, parrots, and butterflies.
An indoor playground is fun for the hottest days in the summer. Even indoor places made for bigger kids, like the bouncy house playgrounds, often have a small dedicated space for toddlers. Be sure to call and check!
Interactive, Educational Play
Children’s museums are great indoor activities and usually have a special section for babies and toddlers. Most, if not all, of the exhibits in children’s museums are highly interactive and fun!
While a big trip to Disney may be in your child’s future, maybe hold off on that summertime activity until later! These simple, local, and fun summertime activities are just what your one-year-old needs to stay happy and stimulated this summer. Enjoy your baby and have fun no matter what you choose to do!
Next, read the best summer activities for kids.