50 Free (Or Almost Free) Things To Do With Your 1-Year-Old

50 Free things to do with your one year old

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As a stay-at-home mom, I am constantly trying to figure out different activities I can do with Jamie other than playing with his same old toys over and over. At one year old, I feel like he’s just old enough now that I had to be a bit more creative when coming up with activities for us to do. He’s still too young to understand games like dress up and pretend but he’s too old to be entertained by a baby jungle gym or me just chatting and making silly faces at him.

While Brian is in law school, we are also on a tight budget that doesn’t have room for a bunch of zoo trips and new toys. Besides who really wants to keep buying a bunch of toys for your kid? So I wanted to come up with activities that we could do that would keep Jamie entertainedย while also not spending any money.

After racking our brains and searching the internet for inspiration, here are 50 free (or almost free) things to do with your 1-year-old! ( All of these activities are free if you have the household items in your home like string or rubber bands.ย However, I know that not everyone may have these items in their homes but you can usually find them for cheap! Hence I say free & almost free.)

50 Free Things To Do With Your 1-Year-Old:

  1. Go for a walk. Around the block or on a trail!
  2. Feed the ducks. Perfect when you have old bread or crackers!
  3. Go on a hike. Good for you and baby!
  4. Visit Petsmart. Check out all the puppies and other pets!
  5. Go to the park. Jamie loves to swing!
  6. Sing Songs. If your happy and you know it…
  7. Build a fort. All you need is some chairs and blankets!
  8. Make instruments. Rice in a sippy cup, or rubber bands around a cake pan!
  9. Read books. Really good for speech development!
  10. Play hide and seek. If you still have a crawler, this one could last you a long time!
  11. Go to the library. Some libraries have little toy tables for them to play with while you read! Then check out a few new books!
  12. Go to the lake. Just play in the sand, or take a swim!
  13. Blow bubbles. Buy a small container or make your own!
  14. Play knock over. Build up some blocks or cups and let them knock it down!
  15. Go swimming. Find a pool, or just play in the sprinklers!
    diy sensory activity board

    Image from

  16. Go for a bike ride. Get a trailer or a bike carrier and get some fresh air!
  17. Make an awesome roller toy out of empty toilet paper rolls. Great use for things we would just throw away! Place empty rolls on a dowel and let them spin it!
  18. Play pull along. Use an old box and some string or a belt to pull your little one around the house!
  19. Make an obstacleย course. Perfect if they are still crawling!
  20. Build a toy car ramp. Grab a few books and pillows then send off the cars!
  21. Have a dance party. Put on your jam and party it out!
  22. Play with letter magnets on a cookie sheet. Let them stick them on the sheet or just use the fridge!
  23. Play with pans or Tupperware. Let them pull them out or let them on the ground and start a band!
  24. Make a sensory board. Grab your spare craft supplies and create a fun sensory board!
  25. Have friends over. Offer to babysit and help your baby develop social skills!
  26. Go to a museum. There are lots of free museums everywhere! Check at your closest university too!
  27. Play catch, or roll. Throw a ball back and forth or roll it on the ground!
  28. Crawling tag. Get down on your knees and let your little one chase you then chase them! Lots of laughs ahead!
  29. Play follow the leader. Mimic them, crawl behind them, clap your hands, even make silly noises!
  30. Play cars. Jamie’s favorite game is pushing toy cars around the house!
  31. Create bath games. Make colorful shaving cream or just some splashing!
  32. Make shadow puppets. Perfect to slow the energy down but still entertain your little one!
  33. Play in the sand, or the mud! Let em get messy and explore!
  34. Pick flowers. Find some dandelions or other wild flowers to gather! Jamie loves big leaves!
  35. Water sensory. Fill up a bucket with water and add some toys. Take it outside and let them explore!
    homemade coloring book

    Image from

  36. Make a tugging box. Take an old box and make lots of holes in it. Then place ribbon through it with knots on either end. As they tug, the ribbon will move and then they can tug from the other end! Tutorial here!
  37. Paint with water. Get a brush and let them paint on plain or colored paper with water! No mess!
  38. No-mess window paint. Place some paint inside ziplock bags and tape to the window! they will be able to smoosh it around with no mess!
  39. Pasta scoop. Put some uncooked pasta in a pan and give them a ladle to try to scoop out the pasta!
  40. Make a Kazoo. Wax paper, empty toilet paper roll, and a rubber band! That’s it!
  41. Make a pom-pom tunnel drop. Tape an empty paper towel roll vertically to the wall and show them how to drop the pom-pom through!
  42. Make a web basket. Using a laundry basket, make a web using yarn and place toys in the bottom! Watch them learn how to get the toys out through the web!
  43. Play with bubble wrap. Just got a package? Let them stomp or crawl on the bubble wrap!
  44. Make a color book. Grab free paint color samples from Home Depot and Make your own color book! Tutorial here!
  45. Build a tunnel. Use chairs in a row or boxes!
  46. Develop motor skills with Q-tips and an old parmesan container. Show them how to stick Q-tips in the holes of an empty parmesan container!
  47. Make a texture book. Grab free flooring samples from Home Depot, popcorn wrappers, and tin foil to make a texture book!
  48. Color. Who doesn’t like crayons and paper
  49. Walk around Target/window shop. Pack a snack and walk around the store! You can even play with a few toys!
  50. Take a nap! If your babies asleep, go ahead and take a nap too. You deserve it!

Never be bored again! What other free activities do you do with your little one? And check out these 3 free budgeting worksheets! Maybe budget in a zoo trip, we can all splurge sometimes!

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