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Meaningful Interactions with 1year olds

It can be hard to think on your feet, on how to support your one-year-old, and you are not alone. 1 year old’s can be hard work especially as they are coming out of the infancy phase and turning into these “Little Learners” who just want to explore. A few ways that you can boost your one-year old’s growing up, giving them a well-rounded experience is to provide activities covering the three basic areas of development

  • Personal Social and Emotional Development (PSED)
  • Communication and Language (C&L) and
  • Physical Development (PD)

Let’s unpack these, a very few of the many simple ways how we support PSED at JINS and you can do that for your one-year-old is through photographs

Make a peek-a-boo puzzle with family and friends’ photos, this helps children identify and build the relationships

Recognise, name, and identify your child’s feelings and emotions.  If your child is crying, you can offer a frown while saying,

“You look so sad and upset. Allow me help you” or

“I can see the giant smile; you are so happy now”

Teach cause and effect Each little cue or prompt matters, say out loud, “I’m going to turn on the light now” before flipping the switch, by doing this you’re teaching and training your little one about the cause and effect. This helps them gauge that something will happen when you turn, push, or pull things.

Play with mirrors, let them imitate your expressions or make their own.  It’s rewarding and amusing to watch. Allow them to take a lead.

For communication and language, which we know for a fact are the building blocks vital for a successful development of a child during the early years,

Turn up the talk and go ahead and have a rant, with short pauses, and speak slowly you will be amazed when you pause, your baby will speak.

Read books all sorts Again and again! Scientists have found that babies as young as 8 months can learn to recognise the sequence of words in a story when it’s read 2 or 3 times in a row

Demonstrating the correct pronunciation making sure to pronounce every word and sound clearly and correctly e.g., say ‘going to’ rather than ‘going to’.

Listening carefully not interrupting when children are talking give them your full attention and do not interrupt them the, they are talking or dismiss them without listening

Make music and Sing help make the shakers with them and while you are doing this talk to them about the process, all the time having eye contact. Use spoons and pots and create your own band, patting on the table to create music or make funny silly sounds. Teach them to shake fast and shake it slow.

Play describing, guessing and turn taking games. if you cannot find a sack a big t-shirt will suffice. Pick items that are your child’s favourite and add them to the t-shirt sack, allow your child to touch and feel with their hand without seeing them and describe. Playing the ‘What am I? game’ is a great way of teaching new vocabulary and helps them notice things around them.

Let’s look at Physical Development supporting large and fine motor skills of your one-year-olds whether they are walking or are still crawling.

Big boxes they make great toys Cut holes in the sides for windows and doors.

Play follow the leader … move around the house at varying speed or crawl around depending on what stage of development your child is. Now ask them to lead and do what they do.

To make this more exciting especially if they are crawling use
tunnel play just add a throw or bedsheet over two sofas, or over the dining table chairs and crawl with them through these spaces, Or

Build an obstacle course, place sofa cushions, pillows, boxes to show your baby how to crawl over, under, though, and around. However, if you are one of those types who do not like things to be put out of place. Crawl or walk around, over, under the things as they are, and use imaginative play and say you need to save yourself from massive sharks or that the floor is lava.

Or simply be the playground lie on the floor …let your baby climb and crawl on you … it will boost dexterity and benefits in problem-solving

While the weather is still lovely, Explore the surroundings, share the view walks “Look at those big trees!” or “Did you hear that police car?” – this gives your baby endless vocabulary-building opportunities. 

Practice dumping and filling objects Shoe boxes work well for this activity. Let them take items one by one and place them in the other box. Your one-year-old will enjoy this and it will help with fine motor skills.

Sing action rhymes, like the itsy-Bitsy spider, wheels on the bus, or head shoulder, knees and toes or snowflake snowflake little snowflake or if you can still stand the baby shark song emphasise and role model the actions.

Bath time fun, give your child a sponge to hold while they are in the bath and direct them to the places to clean, naming them as you point out tummy, arm, shoulder, belly button mummy’s /daddy’s hand

Play throw, roll, and catch with different sizes and textured balls. Add an action for them to follow and then get them to throw catch or roll a ball and say let’s squeeze the ball, lets poke the ball,

Another fun activity is adding strips of paper tape to a different place and let your toddler peel, stick it in places where they are challenged and need to reach and stretch.

Remember that at times you just simply need to take a step back to watch and observe and see where they take you. These are a few of the many activities that you can do with your 1-year-old. Our practitioners and skilled educators at JINS do these and other innumerable activities every single day with the many one-year olds in our care.


Mrs. Samina Khanyari
General Manager
Jumeirah International Nurseries (JINS)