21 learning activities for babies and toddlers
Never run out of ideas for playful ways to support your child’s development!
Curious about what to do with your baby all day? Play is an important part of your child’s learning and growth – it's how they explore their environment, practice developing skills and bond with their caregivers (that’s you!). As your baby grows, playtime will evolve based on what developmental skills they are working on.
Ready to get started? We teamed up with our friends at LEGO Foundation to find lots of new ways to play. Check out these ideas for supporting your child’s development during their first two years, all while having fun!
While these activities can be enjoyed by children of all different abilities, feel free to modify as your little one needs. For even more ideas, check out our list of playful activities for children with disabilities.
Activities for 2-month-olds
Place your baby on their back and sing them a song. As you sing, tap the bottoms of their feet in time with the song.
How your baby benefits: This game is great for developing listening skills. Your little one will delight at hearing your voice and the tapping adds a new way to experience singing songs together.
Face your baby, make eye contact, smile and talk to them when they make sounds. Take turns responding to their babbles and pause to give them time to respond.
How your baby benefits: This back and forth helps your child to learn language and conversation skills – and they’ll love the attention they get from you! Making eye contact shows your baby that you want to communicate with them and helps support learning.
Reach, reach, reach!
Hold a toy or another baby-safe object, such as a cloth, and move it toward your baby’s hand, encouraging them to touch it. Make sure to switch sides so they get to reach with both of their hands.
How your baby benefits: This simple game helps your baby to work on their fine motor skills by giving them a chance to practice opening and closing their fists.
Activities for 4-month-olds
Read and look at baby books together. Point to the objects, animals or plants on the pages and name them.
How your baby benefits: Making time to read together promotes bonding, language skills and visual development.
Give your baby different fabrics to feel and use words to describe them such as “smooth” or “rough.”
How your baby benefits: Giving your baby new sensory experiences helps them to develop their sense of touch and introducing new words helps to build their rapidly growing vocabulary.
Turn the switch
Go around your house and turn things on and off such as lights, water taps, flashlights, radios and other devices. As you do so, say the words “on” and “off.”
How your baby benefits: This activity helps demonstrate cause and effect while teaching your baby new words.
Activities for 6-month-olds
Let’s get rolling!
Place your baby on their back or tummy on a safe surface and place their favourite toy or another baby safe object just out of reach. Encourage them to roll over to reach for the toy.
How your baby benefits: This game helps support your baby’s gross motor skill development by working on a big milestone like rolling over.
Take your baby for a walk outside and talk about the things you see and noises you hear.
How your baby benefits: Going outdoors helps to expose your baby to new sights and sounds, helping them to develop their listening, visual and social skills.
Place your baby on their tummy on a towel or blanket on a soft surface free of any obstructions. Hold the corners and slowly move around the room, taking your baby on a fun, safe ride!
How your baby benefits: This fun adventure helps your little one to strengthen their core and back muscles while also helping them to improve control of their head and neck.
>> Read: Your baby's developmental milestones at 6 months
Activities for 9-month-olds
Observe what your baby does and copy their actions. This lets your little one take the lead!
How your baby benefits: By showing interest and placing importance in what your baby does, you’re helping them to develop their social and emotional skills.
Let your baby explore your home on their own but stay close by to make sure they are safe. This helps them to feel secure while they’re trying new things.
How your baby benefits: Allowing your baby to have supervised freedom helps them to build their independence and self-esteem.
Follow the leader
Give your baby commands to follow like “clap your hands!” and show them how to do it. If they repeat the action, show your excitement and pride by smiling and praising them.
How your baby benefits: Practicing simple instructions helps your baby learn how to follow directions.
Activities for 1-year-olds
Hide and search
Hide toys or other baby-safe objects under a towel or blanket while you play together. Encourage your little one to find it and help them if they need it by pulling it out and saying “here it is!”.
How your baby benefits: This kind of play teaches your baby all about object permanence: Even if you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it’s gone forever!
Words, words, words!
When your baby points to an object, respond by naming the object and talking about it. For example, if they point to a ball, you could say “Do you want your ball? Here is your ball! Let’s play with the ball!”.
How your baby benefits: By naming things that your baby is interested in, you are helping them to learn new words. Paying attention to things they point to also teaches them that their needs matter and helps to build their self-esteem.
Place beads or marbles in a bottle or small container, fill it with water and seal it securely. Give it to your little one for them to shake and observe.
How your baby benefits: This homemade toy helps your baby to practice their visual skills.
Activities for 18-month-olds
Encourage your toddler to walk with you in a safe space as soon as they are able. Go slowly to match their pace.
How your child benefits: Your little one will feel more confident practicing their new skill with you by their side. It’s also a great way for you to enjoy getting exercise together!
Encourage pretend play with a toy or another baby-safe object. For example, take turns rocking a teddy bear to sleep or grab a wooden spoon and use as a microphone.
How your child benefits: This kind of play helps your child to learn empathy and practice social skills.
In and out
Grab a box, bucket or other container and ask your baby to put toys or other child-safe objects in and then take them out again. As they do so, use the words “in” and “out” to describe their actions.
How your child benefits: All while having fun, your little one is working on developing their fine motor skills by grabbing objects and developing their communication skills by listening to directions.
Activities for 2-year-olds
Invite your toddler to help with age-appropriate tasks around the house such as sorting clothes or serving food. Try to turn it into a game and let them know that they’re a great helper!
How your child benefits: Including your child in household activities helps to foster independence and build self-esteem by letting them know they’re a valued member of the family.
Create basic art projects with your toddler like drawings, finger paintings or arranging materials they find outside like shells or pebbles. After they’re finished, display it somewhere where your child can see it.
How your child benefits: Letting your child’s imagination run wild through art helps to foster their creativity and independence.
Use blocks or other safely stackable objects to build a tower together and let your toddler knock it down!
How your child benefits: Not only will your little one have fun watching their creation fall down, but they’ll also be working on developing their fine motor skills by using two hands together.
For even more ways to play, check out Learning Through Play from our friends at LEGO Foundation.