Developmental Milestones and Play Ideas for One Year Olds

A general guide for what most babies learn to do by one year in terms of social, communication and physical skills, and how you can best support their development.



By 12 months, most well, full term babies will be able to:

  • Crawl, bottom-shuffle or walk.
  • Sit unaided.
  • Pull up to stand, or stand briefly on their own without support.
  • Wave bye-bye.
  • Respond to their name.
  • Reach out for toys.
  • Pick up a small object.
  • Use their pincer grasp.
  • Watch people and things that move with interest.
  • Follow the movement of something dangling (like a toy) in all directions.
  • Look for things that have been hidden or dropped, like a toy.
  • Turn towards voices and sounds.
  • Copy sounds.

They may also:

  • Say words with meaning, such as māmā, pāpā, dadda or bubba.
  • Understand ‘no’ and ‘bye-bye’.
  • Say two to three words.



From 6-12 months, you can help your baby’s learning and development by:

  • Reading books with good rhythm, rhyming and repetition.
  • Pointing out and naming familiar things in books, such as animals, activities, objects, body parts, or people.
  • Singing nursery rhymes together.
  • Making music. Playing with noisy, musical toys like rattles, bells, shakers and rhythm sticks can be fun for you both.
  • Putting your baby in a swing once they can sit unaided.
  • Teaching your baby to “go down backwards” to learn stair safety. Use and repeat the verbal cue each time they are going down the stairs.
  • Giving them a heuristic or loose parts basket to play with.
  • Offering toys to your baby that encourage movement, such as a ball that they can push across the floor.
  • Playing with blocks so they can practice stacking.
  • Giving your baby lots of praise when you see them trying hard to accomplish something new.
  • Talking about and identifying emotions with your baby – i.e. “You look like you’re enjoying playing with that toy – I can see you feel happy when you’re having fun.” Or “You look like you’re trying really hard to learn to crawl – I can see that you are feeling frustrated but you’re almost there.”
Listen: Love to Sing: Songbook
by Linda Adamson.
Read: Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes
by Mem Fox, $29.
Play: NavyBaby First Heuristic Play Set, $27.

Speak to your GP if you notice that your baby:

  • Isn’t babbling by nine months.
  • Isn’t sitting unaided by 10 months.
  • Is unable to stand up, even with your help, by 12 months.


There is a wide range of what’s ‘normal’. Every child is different and they all reach milestones at various speeds and ages. See our article on developmental milestones at six months old.


Try not to compare your pēpi to others. It can often cause you more stress and worry than good.


If you are concerned about your baby’s development or growth, speak to your Well Child Tamariki Ora nurse or GP.