Practical life activities are meaningful moments in someone’s life. These activities provide lots of opportunities for concentration. I observe a lot of joy and excitement in my children when they are doing these tasks and have the opportunity to contribute to the family, even at 14 months old. Here are some practical life activities we have been doing in our home with our 14-month-old non-walking twins. I will put other ideas that would be great additional things to do if your baby is walking at this point.
Purposeful motions and movements are perfect opportunities to build concentration, foster a love for work, and introduce new skills. Table scrubbing, or scrubbing anything, is a perfect activity at this age. Naturally, a young child will want to repeat something over and over again. Repetition of activities is how they construct and develop themselves.
I have loved using vegetable scrub brushes for this work. They are the perfect size for a small hand to grasp. They have softer bristles that won’t scratch a surface. I found ours at Dollar Tree, but here is a very similar alternative.
Another practical life activity you can begin doing at 14 months is washing windows. For this activity, you will likely need to support and help with spraying the water on the window. Using a low window or a learning tower up to a window would work best for this. We have a window that goes to the floor by our front door. This makes for a perfect window for washing. I slowly model how to spray water on the window and how to wipe it with a small washcloth. I cut a larger kitchen tea towel into small squares so it was more appropriately sized for their hands. They followed my motions to wipe the window themselves.
Offering opportunities to participate in food preparation is a great thing to start around this age. We can start this process by modeling and then slowly offering parts of the task over to them. For peeling bananas, this looks like me starting to peel the banana and then offering them to pull the peel down the rest of the way.
Another way to do banana work at 14 months old is to make one cut down the peel. Then cut the banana into disks. This alternative will offer more opportunities for fine motor work but initially, they will likely try to eat the peel. Offering bananas in these small disks will slow down the eating process, which can be a beneficial thing, especially for modeling appropriate amounts of food in their mouth at a time.
Unloading the Dishwasher
Tasks like unloading the dishwasher are some of my favorites at this point because it is beneficial for everyone. It gets something off of my to-do list and they feel very proud and happy to help with the task. It goes slower than if I were to do it alone, but it models that they are a valued member of the family and that they can contribute.
The work of getting dressed every day is a great opportunity for cooperation in a task. Naturally at this stage, a child needs a lot of our help, but they don’t need our help for everything. They can hold, grab, and pull things over their head. They may be interested in choosing between two clothing options of clothing, and they also may not be. My boys haven’t shown a ton of interest in doing this, but I still like to try to offer by including them in the process as much as possible.
Using a dressing chair is very helpful for babies who are not yet stable on both feet. It helps them to slow the process down and give them stability.
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Our little ones can come along with the tasks and things that we need to do during the day, especially laundry! They can push clothes into the wash, push buttons, pull clothes out of the washer and dryer, and place them into a basket or laundry bag.
If you have a walking baby, you can have them walk their dirty clothes to their hamper every day and push the laundry basket down the hall towards the washing machine. It is these small actions of their participation that will lay a strong foundation for them to do more and more as they are capable down the road. The first step is inviting them into our work.
We can have a toothbrush and hairbrush for them set up in a small self-care area either in their bedroom or in the bathroom. Again if your child is walking at this age you may be able to have a step stool up to the bathroom sink where they can wet their toothbrush. This is a great opportunity to develop routine and healthy habits.
Other ideas for Walking Babies
When a baby begins walking it opens up a whole other set of practical life activities that they could do! Here are a few ideas to get your mind thinking about how your young toddler can be involved in the practical life tasks of their day at 14 months old.
Once a baby is walking and has the coordination to carry something while walking, they can transfer items from one location to another. This may mean bringing their dirty diaper to the garbage can, clearing a cup or plate from their weaning table into a dirty dish bin, or carrying their table-setting items to their table.
We could begin to give our baby opportunities to get water. We may have a small pitcher and weaning cup for them. Alternatively, we may set up a water reservoir where they can come and get water or fill up a pitcher. You will need to closely monitor this at the beginning and have a towel close by for spills.
Having a broom will be a great addition to your kitchen for your toddler. They will likely use both a tall child-size broom and a small dustpan and broom for sweeping crumbs up after a meal. They likely won’t be effective at this yet and we will need to go back and do it more thoroughly, but it is a good place to start involving them.