the best first birthday party activites

What to do at a First Birthday Party

What to do at a First Birthday Party is a question we get asked a lot!

Of course, Baby’s first birthday is such a special occasion. A time to rejoice with family and friends.

Obviously, you’re throwing a party. But how to fill the time?

Well, our ultimate guide will help you to decide what to do at a First Birthday Party.

This day is all about your precious little one, so let them have fun! Above all else, plan games that will delight your baby. After all, it’s their very first birthday!

How to plan a First Birthday Party

There are many factors that need to be considered when planning your baby’s first birthday party. Firstly, location. Will you throw a home bash or a big event at a themed venue? And consider your menu, the decor and themes and the length of your party.

For a detailed guide to How to plan a Baby’s First Birthday Party!, check out our previous post here.

What games can you play at a First Birthday Party?

Catching Bubbles

what games can you play at a first birthday party

Undoubtedly, babies and bubbles are a magical combo. Just watch the delight and enjoy the shrieks of delight as your little one chases the shiny, flying baubles.

You will need; bubble liquid, plastic cups, bubble pumping machine or bubble wands

How to play; Give all the children a cup and tell them to catch as many bubbles as they can. Alternatively, if you don’t have a bubble machine, or if you want an adult engaging version, have older guests blow the bubbles.

A bubble machine may seem ott for a party, but remember it’s something you can keep to let baby enjoy over and over. Plus you can bring it out at parties or just to give your pics a special touch. Take a look at our favorite bubble machine here.

Wagon rides

wagon ride for first birthday party

Yeehaw Mommy! If you’re looking for what to do at a first birthday party, this game is a real winner. Make sure to establish a fair turn- taking system or all the toddlers will want a go at once.

You will need; A wagon and decorating materials.

How to play; Either you can pre-decorate the wagon, or allow guests to do so as part of your first birthday party program. Simply throw a sign on, reading – just turned 1!- and string a balloon or two or ten, trailing behind from the edge of the wagon.

Take the star of the show, your beautiful baby themselves and give them a ride. Involve all the children to make sure they won’t get angsty whilst they wait, by having them chase after the balloons.

Check out our favorite wagon here.

Ball pool

ball pool for first birthday

Who doesn’t love a good ball pool?

You will need; a good ball pool, a pack of balls.

How to play; Simply fill the pool with the balls, put the toddlers in, and watch them frolic with glee! Mostly, you won’t need to stimulate them as the balls will be enough to grab their attention.

However there are a few fun ways to shake things up with a little twist for a great game for your baby’s first birthday party.

  1. Find the treasure! Hide a few goodies among the balls, perhaps stickers, maybe a baby friendly treat, a rattle etc. Let the toddlers hunt for the treasures among the balls.
  2. Ball fight! Pretty self-explanatory but this option needs close supervision. Maintain a calm atmosphere to set the right tone so that the children have fun, without getting wild.
  3. Don’t drop the ball! Gently throw a ball to your baby, help them to throw it on to the next child. Keep going round in a circle.

Soft play

A soft play is a toddler’s favorite place, it’s virtually a toddler theme park. When planning what to do for your baby’s first birthday party, you may want to consider creating your own soft play if you don’t want to hire out one.

You will need; Soft mats or blanket, soft play blocks. We love this set as it’s wipe clean (so important!) and very versatile, can be arranged in loads of different ways to engage your child.

How to play; Just set up an adult free corner, with some soft mats, fenced off in a baby friendly way.

Spread out your soft play block and let the children play! Your baby has just turned one, it’s a great age to start running or crawling over soft play blocks.

And investing in a soft play set or two goes beyond what to do at a first birthday party. A soft play set is a fantastic asset, especially as your baby is on the cusp of toddlerhood. They’re going to be running around and becoming a lot more active. Having a soft play set for them to expend their energy on, is a real lifesaver for you and great fun for your baby!

Water play table

You will need; a water table and water to fill it with.

How to play; A water table creates a mini water park right in your backyard! Little ones love water play. It’s splashy and entertaining.

This is a low maintenance activity to play at a baby’s first birthday party. Either make a big deal out of it, open the area with great fanfare and set a time limit. Or keep the area running full time in the background, children can go over when they want. For some parents, it will be a good tool if their own babies are getting bored or fussy.

We totally love this water table. Buckets and spinners combine to create a rainfall effect your baby won’t be able to get enough of. Watch them thrill at the maze-like spinners, ramps, and buckets. And you can rearrange pieces to create new waterfalls for fun or let your little ones have a go themselves.

Pop up tunnels

pop up tunnels for first birthday party

Now you already know that your baby loves hide and seek. Take it to a new level with our next idea for which games to play at a baby’s first birthday party.

You will need; Pop and play tunnels.

How to play; Set up the tunnels and let your baby explore. You can make this active hide and seek. Stimulate your baby by having another toddler chase them and they have to hide and run. Or just let the kids have fun with their own imaginations.

Band jam

All children love making a noise, especially babies. Even older children will enjoy the next game on our list of games to play at a baby’s birthday party.

You will need; Lots of child-friendly instruments. One of these packs will give you plenty of options for your baby and friends to choose from – plus, they’re utterly adorable!

How to play; Get out the speakers or use your phone to play your favorite music. Hnd out the instruments and let the babies join in. Don’t forget to record your child’s first performance!

Giant Building blocks

what to do at a first birthday party

Get a head start on STEM  whilst delighting your child with a construction session.

You will need; Building blocks like this set, cardboard boxes, cushions etc.

How to play; You have two options.

  1. Free play! Let the children’s imaginations run wild, let them build imaginary worlds and have fun defending castles and zooming off in space rockets!
  2. This option requires a little bit of pre prep. Take pictures of your building materials arranged in certain shapes. Can your baby replicate them?

How can I make my First Birthday Party special?

Remember that themes can take a birthday party to the nth level. You’re serving the same food, in the same place but suddenly everything seems cool.

Keep it simple. At the end of the day, it’s about you and the baby. Of course, your baby is gorgeous and delightful. But they’re a baby. Just keep it simple and they’ll be delighted. Who are you stressing for? Your nosy neighbor Natalie with the nasally nagging voice? Also, babies can sense stress so stay calm for both of you and you’ll create some lovely memories.

Remember to work around the baby’s nap time. Always plan the party for when your baby will be happiest. After all, a cranky baby means a spoiled party for everyone.

And take lots of photos. It’s a special time! You want to look back in joy and treasure the memories. Take snaps of everything – but consider asking a friend to do it for you so that you can be fully present in the moment.

A baby’s first birthday party is a super special occasion. Plan it carefully because you will remember forever.  Surround yourself with loved ones and their positivity, so that you can all revel in the occasion together.


About Author

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Jane Sheriff is the founder, creative director, party planner and mom of three. She started Darling Celebrations back in 2012 to share easy and beautiful ideas for celebrating the special events in life.

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