The term ‘Taby’ is used to describe a child who is not quite a baby and not quite a toddler yet. A taby is mobile, curious and may have a few words but can also get frustrated pretty easily as they don’t quite have the capabilities of a toddler. I tend to use this term from the ages of 12 months up to the age of two. If you need to keep your little one occupied read on for my 25 activities for tabies…
Scroll on down below for some photo inspiration – there is no need to buy anything specific for these activities, just use what you see as suggestions. I post daily activities over on my Instagram feed and you can also join in with The Creative Play Hub Baby & Taby group over on Facebook.
As always, please be mindful of anything small that might be a choking hazard for little learners – for example, pom poms or food pouch lids. Supervise your child carefully when they are playing, especially with homemade play items.
The post below is just for a quick bit of inspiration, I will be going into the details of all the educational benefits of each activity in separate posts which you’ll be able to find in the ‘Taby’ section soon.
We painted a large cardboard box in the style of a Royal Mail post box, then made letters for all of the family that we could post. This activity also features in The Creative Play A-Z.
Collect tubes from posters, wrapping paper or even a new rug for your taby to explore. You could even add balls or objects for them to post.
Similar to the above – try ramps or tubes to roll toy cars and balls down. We sent this up as part of a recent play space rotation.
4.Washi Tape pull
A favourite activity for my taby! You’ll see a few variations of this on the post, but this is the simplest! Simply stick tape down on to the highchair for your taby to peel off. Just supervise carefully as they will likely try to put the tape in their mouths after!
Attach Duplo or Happyland figures to the stair gate or wall for your taby to rescue. You might need to use stronger tape for this one or the animals will fall down before they get rescued!
Introducing paints to little ones can be super stressful! One of the early art experiences we do is simply painting with water. This is one to bookmark for the summer months – you can find more summertime activities here.
7.Lift the Flap Story
You might’ve noticed that babies just LOVE lift the flap books – this is a great way to retell familiar stories. Baby wipe lids are ideal for this activity but you could also try double layers of thick cardboard.
8.Wash the animals
This is such a versatile activity – wash anything from toy cars, dinosaurs, dolls or even Duplo. It’s an activity that always goes down well at ours! Whilst you can use dish soap, try a baby bath if your little one still mouths everything.
9.Scoop and Pour
My advice for this one is to choose a base that is taste safe but not tasty! For the activity shown below, I used polenta, which has a consistency not too dissimilar to grainy sand. Just add some spoons, cups and funnels, then you’re good to go.
You can do this activity with either a paper towel holder, mug tree or a pre-existing ring stacker. Here we used grapat rings but wooden curtain rings would do just as well.
No list of activities for tabies is complete without an art gallery. This activity is great for encouraging walking. Simply tape up some flashcards (these ones are homemade) with washi tape and let your taby explore. Just be mindful that the cards can be a slip hazard if they fall on the ground.
12.Feed the Animals
Another classic activity that doesn’t get old – we tend to theme ours according to interests or day trips that we’ve been on. Try cornflakes, crushed up weetabix or anything that might need using up from the store cupboard. You can find more ideas for the IKEA Flisat table here.
13.Paint Squish Bags
Another mess-free art option to try if you’re worried about letting a taby loose with paints. This is one that we repeat often at our house – just squeeze non-toxic paints to a piece of cardboard, then pop it into a sandwich bag. It’s best to seal the bag down with masking tape to avoid any tears. You can read more about starting art with little ones here.
14. Explore Outdoors
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Visiting a park with a taby in tow can be a little nerve wracking, but the more they get to explore, the better they become. This photo was taken at a local nature park, where tree trunks were left for children to explore. Just check the area is safe first before letting your little one explore.
This activity is great for play dates and play groups, mainly because the spaghetti wont last longer than a session! Try hiding objects in the spaghetti or add utensils for a little fine motor workout.
Whenever we do a ‘mud’ style activity, the play session is guaranteed to last for ages! Click here to find out how to make a batch of taste-safe mud.
Pipe- cleaners (or chenille sticks) are a great little resource for fine motor skills. I would just advise snipping off the sharp ends from the sticks first as a precaution. You can also try a threading version of this activity with slightly older children.
Another variation on the animal rescue featured earlier on. Try this on a glass surface or radiator to avoid ripping paint from the walls!
19.Muffin Tin 1:1 Correspondence
A little early introduction to maths concepts! Collect a range of resources in a muffin tin (it helps if they are of a similar size) so that your taby can explore putting the objects in and taking them back out again.
20.Salt Free Play Dough
Standard homemade play dough has way too much salt for tabies who might like to taste everything so try a salt-free version instead. Warning – this recipe isn’t perfect and it won’t last as long as traditional play dough but it’s a good way to introduce a new material without the risk of salt poisoning! You can find the recipe here.
Part of the anxiety around introducing little ones to art materials is the fact they put everything in their mouths! This mix of natural yogurt and food colouring is a good introduction to exploring colours and textures. You can read more about it here.
The beauty of discovery baskets is that you can do so many different themes! Try colours, textures, books or sounds with your taby – in time, you can also introduce letters and numbers.
This is a great option for sunny days. Freeze large objects such as duplo or animal figurines in a bowl overnight – you can colour the water if you wish. There are more options for summer play here.
Preparing dinner with an energetic one year old around is no mean feat. It’s often safer to keep them contained to the highchair, but occupying them with snacks can lead to a ruined appetite! I often provide a highchair activity for E with whatever is in the sensory bin at the time. This polenta + tractor activity was a big success and doubles as an early introduction to mark making! (Lots more high chair activities here.)
I often think of rainbow rice as a rites of passage – it’s a great one to have in the parenting tool kit and if stored correctly, it can last for ages. You can find out how to make it here.