Entertaining a 10, 11 or 12 month old baby can be harder than it sounds. Sure the simplest things can make them giggle, but finding out which can keep them occupied for more than 10 seconds straight is a challenge on its own. That’s why I’ve decided to share 25 super simple and fun indoor activities that have kept both my kids happy and entertained without a big effort – perfect for rainy days!
Like all parents I like my little ones to be happy and entertained, especially on those rainy days. I’ve come acros many awesome ideas for activities and games to play with your baby and soon to be toddler, but a whole lot of them require quite a bit of preparation like making edible paint or they might need specific craft materials like contact paper (are we the only people who don’t just have contact paper lying around?). I love many of those ideas, but most of the time that’s not we end up doing. I might have the best of intentions of making a special play book for Eva or Anton, but usually everyday life gets in the way.
I’ve therefore compiled a list of activities that both Anton and Eva have loved doing when they were 10, 11 and 12 months old which require very little or no set-up at all. Most of the 25 indoor activites the kids loved when they were 8-10 months old still work wonders at this age, but being a few months older also means new abilities. That’s why this list is a continuation of the previous list. I’ve tried not to repost ideas from former list and instead tried to spice things up a bit, though tearing up a magazine, blowing bubbles and crawling all over Mom is still a favourite of ours. Or well, of Anton’s to be more specific.
25 fun and easy indoor activities for your 10-12 month old baby
This is a list of simple and fun indoor activities that have kept my two kids entertained when they were 10, 11 and 12 months old. They are two very different little people, which is why not all of the activities have been equally popular with my little ones. But every last of the activities have made them laugh, concentrate and all in all entertained them for more than a minute at a time – and some for much longer. They have done some of these activities on their own, while others have required a watchful eye or even full participation from me or another adult.
1. Playing with shadows. Making shadow animals is suprisingly entertaining for a baby. The first time I made a butterfly with my hands and it cast a shadow, I was taken aback by how much Eva started laughing while trying to touch it. And when it started moving around and getting on top of her own shadow I knew this game was a big hit, as she was giggling so hard. Anton likes the game too, but he can’t sit still for more than a minute before he starts to grab the light source (lamp) which is of course also a game on it’s own.
2. Putting things in boxes – and taking them out again. It’s amazing to see how this simple little game can create so much wonder and get a little soul to concentrate so hard. I love to observe Anton when he’s playing this put and take game. Sometimes it’s just a wooden block and a bowl, othertimes it’s a scarf and a drawer, but nevertheless the wonder is the same.
3. Eating on the floor. Serving snacks on the floor and not in a high chair is something we’ve been doing a lot with Anton. I know it might not be the most conventional way and it might go against what you’re trying to teach your little one, but if you can look past it, then you might save yourself some sanity. Anton will not sit still in a chair to eat if he can avoid it. No, he needs to be able to move freely, so I’ve just started serving some easy to grab foods in a bowl or small container on the floor and he’d eaten it there instead, maybe hopping up and down a bit in between bites or doing a tad of yoga while chewing, but without much of a mess and completely free of struggles to keep him seated.
4. Pulling tissue out of a tissue box. Though Anton is almost over that age where everything goes in his mouth, he’s is still intrigued by paper tissue and it must be eaten. So whenever we break open a new box of tissues you can be certain that Anton will somehow get his hands on it and pull every single tissue out of it. I sometimes stuff other things in there like fabric scraps and then hand it back to him and he is entertained for a good 10-15 minutes pulling them out and trying to stuff them back in again.
5. Taking everything of the shelves. I know, it doesn’t really sound like an activity your want your baby to engage in, but sometimes you just need to let them explore. If you’re worried about things breaking, move them. It doesn’t have to be a permanent set-up, but it will make those exploring days much more fun. I know I regretted not moving that open bag of rice, though he did have a blast.
6. Copy cat – and learning new gestures. Anton loves to make all kinds of noises and he’s starting to get the hang of a few basic words like “mom”,”dad”,”no” and “yes”. When he says some of his words or makes other sounds I like to say them back to him and he’ll repeat them once again. We can have a whole chat this way. We often add in new gestures like waving or making high fives as well as facial expressions and I love seeing him scrunch his little face trying to wink like me. When Eva was a baby we also did a bit of baby signing, which I can hightly recommend – it’s fun when they catch on, and sooo rewarding for the both of you when they can actually express what they want.
7. Throwing a ball (or well, everything that can be thrown really). Anton loves throwing things. The harder the better, but I prefer directing him to the sock bundles or a soft plush ball or his Oball for easy grasp. He loves when we try to catch it and hands it back to him to throw again. He could do this for ages. When Eva was the same age she loved throwing things from her pram, so I sometimes tied a ball to the zipper with a ribbon making it possible for her to throw the ball out of the pram, but without me having to bend forward every single time and pick it up (a little safety tip: don’t let your wee one be alone with this set-up). I know movement wise the bending (or well, squatting down) would be better, but not in a busy street in the big city.
8. Playing with cloth pins. Eva just started to really grasp the idea of cloth pins when she was 11-months old. She loved just sitting still, trying to open the pins and pinning it on things like my shirts, newspaper, he finger and whatever she would get her hands on. She was older before she really mastered it, but she did spend quite a bit of time playing with them at this age.
9. Hammering nails (pegs). Hand my kid a long object and he will start hammering on stuff. He recently got a hammer peg toy and it has seriously been the best gift ever. If you don’t have this toy, some leftover styrofoam from a package and some golf tees (pegs) will make a great alternative, but otherwise go get this toy if you have a little boy or girl that loves hitting and hammering.
1o. Peeling tape from the ground. Such a simple activity that I’ve set up a few times to get Anton distracted. I just stick a lot of pieces of painter’s tape (masking tape?) on the ground and let him tear it off. Often the tape can be reused, so I’d put it back as he started focusing on a new piece of tape. Easy peasy, but such an enjoyment for him. It’s probably a good idea to keep an eye on our little one while they do this activity to keep the tape out of their mouths (and stomachs).
11. Practice walking. Anton was an early walker and when he was 10½ month old he was walking on his own. Eva was a tad slower, but what characterized the weeks before they took their first steps, was the amount of time they both spend practicing. We tried not to hold their hands too much to not throw them of balance and instead gave them the freedom to practice on their own. It was frustrating for them, but that’s what drove them forward. But what I really think made a huge difference was the fact that we let them spend a lot of time without diapers on. Especially Anton got to be butt naked for long stretches of time during this almost walking stage. If you’re worried about the mess I have 8 ideas on how to minimize the mess when being diaper-free.
12. Chasing after each other – especially into a tunnel. Anything high energy seems to be a hit with Anton and Eva when was the same age. Chasing after him while clapping my hands makes him giggle so hard he can hardly keep his balance. Sometimes I take out the foldable play tunnel we got when Eva’s was born and he loves crawling into it and having us trying to grab him from both sides (which we for some reason never seem to be able to do).
13. Talking and playing with dolls and plush toys. Teddies, dolls or things with faces didn’t interest Anton before he turned 11 months, but then one day he started getting really fascinated by a penguin Eva bough with her own money and a doll from her Kindergarten. And now he loves it when we make different teddies and dolls talk and interact with him. He just can’t stop smiling and engaging with them.
14. Tumbling around with mom and dad. Anything that can get a little adrenaline kicking is a favourite of Anton’s. Spinning around (both ways), flying around the living room like an airplane or being dangled up-side-down is just a few examples of what can really get Anton giggling.
15. Making noise (or music). Playing a xylophone, Dad’s guitar or any other instrument is always great, but give Anton something long that he can grab with his hands and just about anything turns into a drum. A cardboard box and a random kitchen utensil (not a knife of course) and you have a happy baby. He started noticing different objects makes different sounds when he bangs on them. It’s so much fun to experience him experiencing the world.
16. Toilet paper roll dropping. Simply tape a toilet paper roll to the wall and provide your toddler with some wooden blocks, pom poms, cut up straws or bottle lids. If it fits through the tube then it is perfect for this activity! I don’t know what makes it so fascinating, but it’s truly mesmerizing for my little one.
17. Stacking everything that is capable of being stacked. If it has a surface and can be lifted by a baby, it can be stacked. Cups, pillows, wooden blocks, books, you name it. When I need a minute or two I sometimes direct him to a few random objects on the floor (we always have a random stuff on the floor) and stack them, making him try to replicate. It’s quite effective for a fast distraction when you need to get in a cupboard that you don’t your little one getting in as well.
18. Exploring new corners of the home. If you are out of new corners, make a new corner like rotate what goes on what shelf and with what. Anton suddenly found great joy in a big box we had, when we put it next to some of Eva’s wooden blocks – two things he had never been interested in before were suddenly made into the best toys ever when placed together on a low shelf in the living room.
19. Jumping on bed. If you have older kids and a general rule not to jump on the bed, then this might be a good activity to save for when the older kids are out and about. Anton loves jumping on the bed and falling backwards and he has a great time tumbling around. He has never fallen off the bed, but of course be careful.
20. Playing with picture cards. Anton loves Eva’s playing cards- especially the ones with different pictures on. He will throw them all on the floor, then preceed to sit and turn them face up and then look at the different pictures. Sometimes he’ll come and show them to me and I’ll say thank you and tell him what it is. Usually he’ll be satisfied with this and he’ll go find another picture for me to name. This can go on for quite some time with him taking little breaks to just study the cards on his own.
21. Playing with cardboard boxes. Why kick a ball when you can kick a cardbox? I have seriously contemplated never throwing out a cardboard box, but after a big move I’ve let that idea go – otherwise we would be drowning in boxes. But cardboard boxes and kids are just meant to be, so whenever we get something in a box I let Anton (and Eva who is 3 years old) have a blast with it for whatever purpose he desires, before throwing it away. Last time he just used a small box as a ball and a big one for putting all our shoes in.
22. Playing hide and seek with his toys (and shoes). Anton seems to get the whole “peek-a-boo” deal by now, but he’s still not ready to play hide and seek. Instead we’ve started playing a combination where I hide one of his toys or objects he knows really well and ask him to find it. It only works with toys he is quite familiar with like his ball or his shoes. If your child has a favourite teddy or a pacifier I would definitely try those as well.
23. New snack in new container. If you need a coffee break or just a good 10 minutes of silence try giving your little one a new (or favourite) snack in a new container on the floor. I know, it sounds silly, but Anton absolutely loves this. Sometimes there’s a bit of clean up afterwards, but isn’t there always? Cups, colourful containers for freezing food and even some food safe pretend kitchen toys have been used around here.
24. Singing songs with gestures. Anton especially loves a song that’s pretty much just singing his name, while waving your hands in different ways. He will stop crying instantly when we start singing this song and wave his hands. And it was the exact same with Eva. There’s just something magical about simple songs with hand gestures.
25. Anything with a balloon. If everything else fails? Just blow up a balloon and let the magic happen. Just remember to keep a close eye on your little one to not risk them popping the balloon and choking on the remainders. If you need to let them play on their own for a while then a balloon cover is an absolutely brilliant solution!
Keeping little ones entertained at this age can seem impossible at times, but letting them loose and giving them the freedom to explore is – in my opinion – the best foundation for letting them develop at their own pace and according to their own personalities. And the best part about this approach? It’s super simple to set up up it often just require the world aorund you and yourself.