What to Teach A One-Year-Old: Guides from A Real Mom

Every parent wants the best for their kids. From education, physical health, and emotional skills, it is every parent’s wish for their baby to be smart, happy, and healthy.

If you are new to parenthood, it is common to feel stressed about what to teach a one-year-old. That’s why I decided to make this guide to share my personal experience with you.

Developmental Milestones for 1 Yea Olds

Developmental Milestones for 1-Year-Olds

To understand what to teach a one-year-old, we should start with what they are capable of, physically and intellectually. The subject you introduce should be age-appropriate so that your child will pay attention to and can easily accept it. Let’s take a look at some key milestones for one-year-olds. You can also use the CDC’s checklist to compare how your child is progressing.

Physical Skills

Children grow almost double their size by age one. Additionally, their brain will be 60% developed at this age. At the same time, your child’s spine is getting stronger so that she is able to sit up or stand up.

You can expect your child to perform basic motor skills such as sitting, standing, and walking with or without support. They are able to hold light items such as a spoon and toys and can point to things with ease. Your bundle of joy can also freely move their body from one spot to another by crawling or walking with support.

Intellectual Development

Also known as cognitive skills, intellectual development takes place very fast in younger kids. At one, a child starts to understand basic instructions and how to respond to them. He can also react to emotions and comprehend them. So be more mindful of your own emotion when they are around you.

You might often find your little one throwing things around and getting a bit worked up. Don’t worry, this is only because they are trying to figure things out.

Social and Language Skills

Though you may have already heard “ma-ma” and “da-da”, now get ready to hear your toddler’s first word. At this age, one-year-olds imitate and project what you tell them, so be careful what they hear from you, other caregivers, or on the TV.

Emotionally, it’s common for one-year-olds to get cranky and adamant, just understand that they are still young and need a lot of love from you.

what to teach a one year old

What To Teach A One-Year-Old?

Age one seems like a tiny number, but you will be surprised at how much your kid can absorb already. The first few years of a child’s life mold them permanently, so it is necessary to keep them in a healthy environment. Here are a few points and guidelines that give you some ideas about what to teach a one-year-old.

Standing and Walking

One year is when a child’s motor skills start to mature. Your new toddler should be able to pull themselves up or even take a few steps. In the first six months of life, most babies use activity gyms to help enhance their gross motor skills. Now your child is ready to put these skills to use.

If your child hasn’t started cruising alone furniture, you can encourage him to walk by using push walkers. A proper baby walker can help a child transition from crawling to walking. You want to avoid sit-in walkers because many studies expressed safety concerns.

If your child is bored from staying indoors all the time, it’s a great idea to take her outside for a spin on a toddler trike. You will be amazed at how much one-year-olds love to get out of the house. Your little one will learn a lot of things about mother nature as you provide the chance for her to explore.

Stacking and Sorting

Cognitive and motor skills go hand in hand. As your toddler develops better hand-eye coordination, she will be able to perform many tasks easily. Learning toys and educational toys can help strengthen their cognitive skills. The best learning toys for one-year-olds are stacking rings, ups, and sorting toys.

Through playing with stacking and sorting toys, your child can learn about patience, focus, as well as strengthen their fine motor skills. My daughter always shows a proud face when she is able to stack all the rings on the pole properly. These toys also help establish confidence in a small child.

Pushing and Pulling a Riding Toy

One-year-olds have way too much energy and get restless and bored easily. Pushing and pulling toys help enhance their motor skills while helping them let off the steam. Another advantage of pulling and pushing toys is that they encourage a child to walk and run.

It’s a good thing that your child is more mobile and can move around with toys now. But you should always baby-proof your house to make it safe and child-friendly. If you have multiple floors in the house, make sure that the stairs are properly guarded with gates so that the riding toy will not fall down the stairs.

Cause and Effect

Cause and effect may be a natural skill for us but it’s a new thing for babies. You can simply try to show your child how flipping a switch can turn on the lights. I am sure you will see her puzzled face. The next time when she is near a switch, don’t be surprised if she also tries to pull it up and then turns her head to see if the light turns on.

Many toys can help teach cause and effect. Some great options are sound books, toys with buttons, and musical instrument toys.

Matching Objects with Name

By this age, your child is learning to match an object with its name. For example, if you point to the sky and then say the word “sky”, the next time when she hears “sky”, she will look up or point to the sky.

Now it’s not too early to start teaching letters and numbers. You can start with reusable wall stickers, toddler books, or flashcards. Common householder objects are excellent, too.

However, don’t expect that your child will remember the word right away. You need to repeat the same thing many times for them to memorize it.

Speaking Simple Words

The best ways to build up your child’s vocabulary and communication skill are to talk to them, converse with them, and read books to them. One-year-olds are starting to learn to understand and speak simple words.

Besides “mama” and “dada”, teach your child simple words such as “ball”, “milk”, and “here”. Of course, it will take a lot of repetition and patience.

Following Simple Commands

One-year-olds are starting to understand basic directions and instructions such as “eat,” “come,” and “go”. This is also a good time for you to encourage her to follow your instruction and use good manners.

Every time when she accomplishes a task, say “Thank you” to her and reward her with a big hug or her favorite snack.

Tips for Parents When Teaching One Year Olds

Tips for Parents When Teaching One-Year-Olds

Teaching a one-year-old can be enjoyable because kids are super cute at this stage. However, it can also be super torturous as they have short attention spans and don’t care what you say (nor can they understand). Here are some tips for you.

Demonstrate what to do

Children love to mimic what adults do. At such a young age, parents are children’s entire world. They follow and learn from you. Demonstrating what you do helps them remember and follow the task with ease.

Stay patient

One-year-olds can be a pain in the neck because they don’t obey rules and instructions. It’s also common for them to tantrums and cry when they can’t get what they want. As a parent, you should stay calm and remind yourself to be patient.

Be slow and use simple instructions

Don’t be anxious to teach them everything at once. One step at a time. Always start with simple and easy subjects or subjects that they are most interested in. My daughter loved music so we started by teaching her to use musical instruments. It was always a blast and we always ended up dancing and laughing together.

Follow your child’s lead, never force them

Parents think that they know that is the best for their child but many times we ignore our child’s feelings. When she is refusing to eat something, to listen to something, or to do something, we should stop forcing them. Sometimes it can be an ego-struggle for parents because we want to show who is in command. Instead, we should follow our child’s lead while being firm about discipline.

Make it fun and entertaining

The best way for a one-year-old to learn is to mix learning with playing. There are plenty of toys and books that are designed for one-year-old boys and girls. There is no doubt that a child will respond better to something beeping, singing, and flashing than your lectures.


Age one is always filled with wonder and excitement. Toddlers at this age are curious and sweet. Don’t stress out about what to teach a one-year-old because every child is different. Whatever you teach, make sure that it’s fun, entertaining, and safe. The most important thing for both of you is to create happy memories.