12 answers

Birthday Activity Ideas for a 12-Month Old

My first and only child (for now) is heading for the BIG 12 month within a few months (August). I have been planning for his very 1st birthday since he was 3-months old. Still working on a theme. Isn't that something? (laughing) I am sure like most new moms, we are looking forward to this very special day. Therefore, I have been brainstorming and talking with other moms/friends about possible activities for a 12-month old. Keeping the small budget in mind. Any thoughts or suggestions?

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For Olivia's 1st bday, we just did the Winnie the Pooh theme, I made the cakes (little one for her) and had family chip in and bring snack foods. At that age, just make it at a time around naps, that's my advice! Have fun!

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My oldest (now almost 6) had a huge party for her first. We had over 50 people and spent way too much money on it!! My second (4 on the 20th) had a smaller party, just close friends, about 25 people, and still spent too much. My last (just turned 2) has yet to have a "party". We did a family dinner for his first and that was the best :). The boys are getting a family trip to Sesame Place in May for their party this year. I think as long as you invlove family, I wouldn't go all out. I know it's easier said than done, but the smaller the better, for your budget and baby!

My absolute best suggestion is to not do much of anything specific. A 1 year old has a short attention span and they can get overstimulated very easily. You don't want a crying baby in all of the birthday pictures. For both of my sons' 1st birthdays I just made sure that there were people who loved them, kids close to their age to play with and some older family/friends' kids as well, lots of cheap little gifts to tear paper off of (great fun experience at 1yo) and cake and ice cream. We did a barbeque for a late lunch, then presents, then cake and ice cream. The only suggestion I have is to make him his own special little cake. The first-taste-of-birthday-cake is what you're going to be taking the most pics of anyways. What I did was to empty and clean thoroughly (via the dishwasher) two regular tuna fish cans. Then when I made the batter for the big cake, I dipped out enough to fill each tuna fish can about a third of the way up with batter before I filled the big pans. I baked all four together and just checked the little ones early. Then I completed each of the two cakes the usual way by layering and frosting. I didn't do themed decorations or anything, just mostly matching colors. Honestly at this age, he'll have WAY more fun if you avoid a structured schedule and just let him play his heart out with all of his guests.

I'd hold off on the themed b-day parties until they're old enough to ask for it themselves. You don't want to set a bad precedent. A birthday is a time to celebrate another wonderful year of life in the world and to think back on all of the good things you experienced the last year. It's about being with people you love and celebrating your life. If birthdays get too extravagant, then the real meaning gets totally missed. I don't want my kids growing up to be totally disappointed when their birthdays become really just another day, or they have to work on their birthday because they couldn't get time off, or whatever. I want them to grow up understanding that it's not all about presents and over the top planning. It's about caring, just like Christmas. Of course, that's my own personal philosophy so feel free to hit delete because you should always do what feels right for you.

It's cute that you are so excited...but I would just keep it to adults (and their kids in tow if necessary) - that way you can take tons of pictures of baby without worrying about other kids running around, etc. The adults can get together with appetizers, etc and relax, talk....get two cakes - one for baby to eat with his hands (cute pictures!) and one for the adults. I wouldn't worry too much about themes because he won't know the difference - just pick something he likes to put on the cake and buy him a couple new toys he can play with. He will like the attention he gets from the friends and family more than the decorations any way. :)

We celebrated my son's 1st birthday in March. We kept it small, had h'ourderves, and did hamburgers and hotdogs w/ chips and soda. Since my son would not really remember, we did not want anything too big. The whole party including eating, cake and presents, was about two and a half hours.

I made sure I scheduled it afer his morning nap and before his afternoon nap. Although, I had to say, he was wired after the party, and did not want to go to sleep. There was just so much going on that day it finally got to the point where he was so tired, he could not keep his eye's open. He thought if he went to sleep, he would miss something.

Have fun.

Hi C.,
All the other posts are right on the money--simple is better. I too wanted a theme for my daughter's first birthday and went out and bought decorations and such only to then return them the week before the party when I realized how overboard it was. We got a big balloon for her (in the shape of a cow) and made her a cow-shape cake (she LOVED cows) and had a few relatives over to sing and eat cake. You certainly don't want to overwhelm your child and put them in a position to shy away from eating cake and opening gifts. Save the big themes and celebrations to their 3rd birthday when they actually have friends they love and can get excited along with you!

A "themed party" for a one year old is a party for YOU (or others who are invited), and certainly not the birthday child of that age!

I understand YOUR excitement about the milestone, but your baby will be oblivious and might enjoy sticking his hands in cake and ice cream and experiencing the sweetness when he licks them, and possibly wearing a little hat, but not much else that seems like a birthday party to an adult or older child. Some, with prompting and modeling, will try to blow out a candle to many oohs and ahs of well-wishers, but should otherwise not be trapped in a performance and should instead be allowed to wander and tear open little gifts as others have suggested. (he will likely enjoy the shredding and the paper more than the actual gift--prepare yourself!) I suggest getting 1 helium filled balloon and tying it to his chair where he will be 'celebrating' with his little cake. At one year, babies sometimes will mimic hitting or pushing the balloon away and having a ball.

If you are sending posted invitations, you might purchase some with a "theme" that matches a balloon or the party plates you intend to use, and let that suffice as an announcement of a concept for the party. Just have fun...there are many years ahead for the planning of themes and venues.

"activities" for your 12-month-old seem overkill. we just had our baby girl's first birthday last weekend, and the only activities she did were looking at presents, playing with the wrapping paper, eating cake, walking around/showing off, and being loved on by our friends and family. she woke up from a nap literally minutes before the party started, the party was only 2 hours, and she was immediately ready to go down for a nap as soon as the last guest left. she was totally tired! 1-year-olds don't need activities at their own party. you don't want him to be overstimulated and not be able to enjoy his family and friends on his special day. keep it simple!

For Olivia's 1st bday, we just did the Winnie the Pooh theme, I made the cakes (little one for her) and had family chip in and bring snack foods. At that age, just make it at a time around naps, that's my advice! Have fun!

Totally agree with the prior comments on activities and such for a first birthday. Its for the adults, not the children. Kids that age don't play together. Also, you will be dealing with a disruption in the routine which may impact naps and therefore behavior. I would make the day just a fun, sharing playdate with a great cake and lots of pictures. One thing that was a huge hit at my daughters party was one of those push buggies by Step One or Little Tykes. They all loved it and we used if for several years later. Save your party money and buy that for your boy. You will use it almost daily after and have a lot more fun than a fancy party that likely won't meet your expectations because the children are too long.

At my daughter's 1st birthday in June, I am going to have a little kiddie pool for the little ones. The big kids can swim in the big pool. I was given some outside play toys and a castle sliding board. I will have those available for the little ones. I am also going to have bubbles for the kids to play with (supervised obviously).

A one year old is likely not to be really interested in much about birthdays except cake and wrapping paper/boxes. They don't really "get" birthdays at that age, next year will be a different story.

I would keep it very small -- family and a few friends, have some food and cake. And take lots of pictures, the first birthday is really a celebration for the parents and family.

As far as theme, if you notice your child is really into one thing or another, go with that. Otherwise, there are first birthday themed stuff or Sesame Street is always a good option at that age.

Finally, relax and enjoy the day and reliving all the memories of the first year!

We invited just family and one or two friends with kids the same age to our son's 1st Birthday party. It worked really well. The favorite decoration with all the kids was just helium balloons with ribbons attached that floated down low enough for the toddlers to grab them. I found the most helpful articles for planning the party online, and I'll share my fave one here, in case you could use some more ideas:

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