1st Birthday Party Games & Activities For Your Little One

Throwing a party for a 1st birthday is exciting, but it can also be a bit perplexing. You want to ensure baby’s first birthday is memorable, fun and cheery, but babies don’t have too much of an attention span and they can tire out easily with new things.

There are a lot of details to consider during the planning and preparing the activities for baby’s first birthday.

The first birthday is really more about the adults than the kids. After all, a one-year-old isn’t really going to be able to conceive of the idea of “party”. So with that in mind, you will need to tailor your event more toward the adults in attendance rather than the children. The theme will probably be what you find cute if your child doesn’t yet have a favorite character. Foods will be for the parents in attendance, favors may be for the children if you can find age-appropriate ones, etc.

Here are some key tips and first birthday ideas to make it a special day for baby and parents.

Choose the Best Time of Day for Baby’s First Birthday

It’s important for friends and family to be able to attend a 1st birthday party. If your child’s special day is on a weekend, that’s great. If not, plan the event on the weekend before or after. Since the other guests are likely to be small children or toddlers, respect nap time. It’s not possible to find the perfect time for every attendee, but late afternoon or late morning are time slots less likely to conflict with common nap times. This ensures your child is better rested and less likely to be moody.

Pick Simple Themes and First Birthday Ideas

There are so many first birthday ideas to choose from, especially with the rise of Pinterest. While planning your baby’s first birthday, it’s a good idea to just keep it simple, especially if planning the event stresses you out. If your child has a favorite stuffed animal they like to sleep with, consider a zoo animal themed party. If your baby enjoys books and you love to read to them, build the theme around a favorite book or character. Use what your child likes best to plan the décor, foods, activities and games for babies

1st Birthday Ideas

Select the Right Foods

Guests will range from small babies to grandparents, but careful planning can accommodate all their eating needs. For the children on the guest list, opt for finger foods that are healthy and can be eaten on the go. Think about single-serve options like small boxes of raisins, single packs of animal crackers or squeeze pouches of fruit. Older guests can consume veggie wraps, sandwiches or vegetables with dip. Make sure to indicate on the invitation the types of foods you’ll be serving and whether it’ll be just snacks and birthday cake or more of a meal. Guests can plan on eating when they get there or before they come accordingly. Also, note if any guests have food allergies or eating restrictions so you can accommodate.

Try these Birthday Games for Babies

When planning activities and games for babies it’s important to remember they are super active and have a short attention span. At this age, there may not be a lot of difference in planning little boy or little girl games. Try to plan activities that are not gender-specific. However, if the party theme is geared more to one gender or the other such as a princess or a monster theme, accommodate by including alternative choices. There are a lot of activities that can be enjoyed at this age. Put older children who attend the party in charge of little boy and little girl games. Here are a few ideas for activities and games for babies that older children can help supervise.

1st Birthday Ideas

  •         Bubble play
  •         Wagon rides
  •         Song and dance time
  •         Building blocks
  •         Ball pit



Don’t forget to include a game or two for moms and dads. Something like a baby photo guessing contest would be fun for adults. Ask parents to send their baby photos prior to the party. Hang them around the room and let guests guess the babies’ identities. Give a prize to the person who gets the most correct guesses.

Consider the 1st Birthday Cake Smash

This activity is an important part of baby’s first birthday party. Who doesn’t love and cherish the photos of babies smashing their 1st birthday cake? It’s adorable and memorable. If you want to reduce the clean-up and still get cute cake-smashing photos, use a cupcake. It’s small, but still works and babies can still make a big mess with a smaller “cake.”

Engage Adults Who Will Remember the Day

Adult activities at a baby’s first birthday party can help preserve the memory for years to come. There are a couple of inexpensive ideas that are enjoyable and will create a lasting memory. All you need to create a time capsule are pens, paper and a shoe box. Guests write short messages to the baby that will be read years down the road. You may offer a few suggestions to help fight off writer’s block like offering good advice, a memory from the 1st birthday party, or wishes for their future. Put all the messages in the box and mark the box with a message that says, “Do not open until your 18th birthday!”.

Another fun activity for the adults who are attending is a personalized poster. Place a photo of the 12-month old baby in the center and have party attendees write sweet birthday messages or well wishes on the poster using markers.

Plan the Venue for with Party Activities in Mind

If you are on a budget and have a large enough area in your home, you might consider hosting baby’s first birthday party yourself. This can allow for hanging out longer with friends and family and having a good place for your baby to nap if they get too tired. They may also be more comfortable in the familiar surroundings. Booking a popular children’s-themed restaurant or children’s play place for the party can be an expensive option. The advantage for having the activities for 1-year-olds at a play space is you don’t have to worry about prep, cleanup or entertaining guests as much. Other options for places to hold a baby’s first birthday party and activities might be a local park or splash pad. There are play areas to occupy kids of all ages and it’s usually inexpensive or free to reserve a space.

Choose Appropriate Favors for a First Birthday

It is customary to send children home with party favors after a kid’s birthday. The types of favors you provide may depend largely on the 1st birthday party theme. It can be a small toy like a plastic musical instrument, colors and a coloring book, or a soft bath toy. Perhaps you would prefer giving a favor to the entire family when they leave. This might be a picture of the family or their child taken during the party and placed in a simple frame. When the favors or favor bags are passed out prior to parents leaving, make sure to give it to parents first so they have the option of removing candies or other items before giving it to their children.

Be Conscious of Budget

There are plenty of first birthday ideas that are DIY and can help you create a budget-friendly but still exciting party. You can have the party at home or in an outdoor space like a public park for free. Shop for favors, decorations and other items at a discount store or online. You may either bake and decorate the cake yourself or turn decorating cupcakes into a 1st birthday activity for guests. Invites can be sent electronically to save on invitations and postage.

Take Lots of Pictures!

Digital pictures do not cost a penny to take or share with friends and family via social media outlets. You can always print off the ones you want to frame or keep in a scrapbook. Be sure to take photos before your baby gets completely worn out from all the 1st birthday party activities. This means taking them as early in the party as possible while children are refreshed and smiling. You may also consider taking a photo of the décor before party guests arrive and activities commence.

Final Thoughts on Baby’s First Birthday

These tips for planning your child’s 1st birthday party and activities will ensure everyone has a great time and your child will have a memorable and enjoyable time. The entire party should only last a couple of hours to make sure babies don’t get overstimulated or too tired. Overall, keep it simple, short and sweet.

Use Discount Party Supplies for Your 1st Birthday Party needs

Discount Party Supplies carries a massive selection of first birthday party themes, from conventional Mickey 1st Birthday & Minnie 1st Birthday to more specific likes, such as a Bee Party or a Bubble Bath Ducky Party. Whatever your needs, we have the supplies to make your 1st birthday celebration unforgettable.

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