Toddlers are a joy for parents, but they are a bit of a handful. One of the joys of toddlerhood is that they are so interested in the world around them, but that also means you need to have plenty of 18 month old activities ready.
Otherwise, you will struggle to keep the out of harms way!
Toddlers seem to have a knack for finding things they shouldn’t be doing, so keeping them busy is essential. That’s why you want to know different things to do with your 18 month old.
You can’t go to the park every day!
Toddlers are learning and growing, making this a fascinating age. So, let’s take a look at some things you can try with your 18 month old to keep them entertained and learning at the same time.
What Should a 18 Month Old Be Learning?
An 18 month old toddler is constantly learning and changing; this stage is when your child is walking and using basic words. They love to explore, learn, and play together. Also, toddlers at this age show more independence and interest in pretend play.
All toddlers learn at a different pace, but here is a general list of what your 18 month old is learning at this age. Use this to help pick out things to do with 18 month olds!
- Shaking his head no in response to his needs.
- Expresses new emotions like frustration, guilt, shame, and possessiveness.
- Separation anxiety peaks around 18 months.
- Pointing at objects he wants.
- Pretend plays by feeding stuffed animals or baby dolls.
- Points to body parts when asked.
- Helps undressed himself.
- Pulls toys along while walking.
- Attempts to walk up the stairs.
- More words develop, usually one to two new words per week.
25 Activities for your 18 Month Old
1. Play with Shapes
You don’t have to be fancy or plan elaborate things for your 18 month old to do. Sometimes, simple is all that’s needed, like playing some with shape sorting toys.
Make sure you have a Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube. It’s a classic toy that all kids love; it requires focus and attention. Over time, your child will master all of the shapes.
Another easy idea is to take stiff pieces of felt and cut out shapes. Then, have your child sort them. Make sure to store them to reuse later!
Grab my Colors & Shapes Toddler Busy Binder!
2. Sidewalk Shape Activity
This Sidewalk Chalk Shape Game is as simple as it gets and will keep your toddler or preschooler busy for a bit! All you need is some sidewalk chalk and pavement and you have a fun game for your little one! It’s like a life-size game board where your child can learn, explore, or practice their shapes and colors.
Draw the shapes on your patio or driveway. Then, you call out the shape and color, and your toddler has to jump to it!
Related: Sidewalk Chalk Shape Learning Game
3. Sorting by Colors
Sorting by colors is always one of the top 18 month old activities. Colors are often one of the first things toddlers identify by name, and they love to use their new skills.
You’ll find a lot of ways to do this!
4. Sort Colors in Muffin Tins
Grab those muffin tins out of your cabinet and use them to sort colors. I like color bears for this, but you really can use any item. Toddlers love this activity, and since you can use change the items, it has endless potentials.
5. Play Colorama
I know the instructions for Colorama say that it’s best for kids 3 years old and up, but it has different levels of playing. The easiest level is do-able for a toddler. Parents split all the shapes between the players and everyone has to find the matching space for their shapes. It’s not competitive – you take turns.
There are a lot of ways to use this as your child gets older.
6. Practice Stacking
Toddlers love stacking. It’s a great time to introduce a new stacker to your toddler; we love the Melissa & Doug Rainbow Wooden Ring Stacker. It’s a little more advanced than simply blocks. By 18 to 24 months old, your toddler is ready for a bit more of a challenge.
If you don’t want to buy new toys, grab some different sized cans out of the pantry and use those. I swear my toddler stacked food cans out of my drawers for months before finding it uninteresting.
7. Learn Letters
18 months is a great time to introduce letters, but don’t expect your child to grasp them at this age. Rather, it’s a good time to introduce toys that use letters in play.
For example, all toddlers love foam bath letters. You can point out the letters and spell words, like their name, on the tub walls. It’s a no-pressure toy but encourages early learning.
8. Fish for Letters
Use those letters for a simple activity – fishing for letters. Fill up a baby pool with some water and toss in foam letters. Let your child scoop them out, and once they start to recognize the letters, you can call one out and let your child find it.
9. Stick Letters to Window
Another activity with those little foam letters is to stick them to windows or glass doors. All you have to is put them into a bowl and spray some water on them. They stick well when wet.
Your toddler will find it fascinating that the letters stick to the window!
10. Pom-Pom Drop
This PomPom Tube Drop activity is very simple and only requires 3 items. Most of them you probably already have at home.
The pompom tube drop is a developmental activity that will help to improve fine motor skills (using the small muscles of the hands and fingers) and understanding cause-and-effect and problem-solving.
Parents can add more learning to this activity by adding vocabulary, counting, and color recognition.
11. Match Animal Figures
I think this idea is so fun!
Grab my Farm Toddler & Preschool Packet!
12. Hang with Other Toddlers
Get your toddler out with other kids his age; it’s definitely one of the best things to do with 18 month olds.
Toddlers are social creatures, and they love to be with kids their age. At this age, their social skills are developing, and while they may not play together, they will parallel play at this age.
13. Climb on Playground Structures
Toddlers love to climb; it targets their tactile and gross motor skills needs. Climbing helps your toddlers learn to balance and learn body awareness. it also encourages hand and shoulder strength, trunk control, and builds core strength.
Plus, your little toddler loves to explore and climb. As your child climbs the same structure regularly, you’ll notice their confidence growing.
Local playgrounds offer plenty of climbing structures for kids, but if you don’t want to go to the playground all the time, get a climbing tower for your backyard. We love our climbing dome; it gets so much use!
14. Take Daily Walks Together
If you can’t figure out new 18 month old activities, take daily walks together. Not only do walks target all senses, but your child will work on gross and fine motor skills, visual skills, and hand-eye coordination.
Taking walks around the block gives you opportunities for adventure with your toddler. You never know what you will see, and toddlers are naturally curious. Don’t rush your walks; spend time and let your child see what he wants to see.
Your child may shred up some leaves, break sticks, pick flowers, and lift up rocks. All of these are working on skills, and walking on different surfaces and inclines practices gross motor skills.
15. Read Books Together
Of course, reading books together with your child is always one of the best 18 month old activities. Reading helps your child grow his vocabulary by hearing brand new words. It’s one of the best things you can do for your child to encourage early literacy.
16. Pull Toys Behind
Chances are your toddler is moving and walking all around your house now, so it’s the perfect time to introduce a pulling toy.
You’ll find all sorts of options, but a classic pick is the VTech Pull & Sing Puppy. As your toddler pulls the toy behind him, it sings and plays songs.
17. Enjoy Sensory Bottles
All kids, especially toddlers, love sensory bottles. The ideas and options are endless, and they’re affordable to make. Sensory bottles hold your child’s attention, and you can involve your toddler in the making of the bottle as well.
18. Play in Fake Snow
If you need fun winter 18 month old activities, make a sensory in that uses some fake snow. Instead of getting cold outside, you enjoy the winter and sensory play – two things your toddler understands.
Get creative; you can hide all sorts of things in the fake snow!
19. Play in a Blanket Fort
One of the easiest 18 month old activities is to make a blanket fort with chairs and blankets. I bet you did this as a kid, and it’s just as exciting for your kids as it was for you.
Grab some of your kitchen chairs, toss some blankets over them, put pillows underneath, and have fun. Your toddler will love crawling in and out of the covered fort.
20. Splash in the Bath Tub
Need a rainy day activity? Put your toddler in the bath tub for some play time.
All you really need is some cups, spoons, and other items for your child to use in the water. They can splash and have fun until they’re over this activity.
Just remember to stay in the room for safety purposes.
21. Toy Water Scoop
Simply fill your plastic storage container or bowl with water and throw some plastic toys in. Add in some scoopable items like serving spoons, stacking cups, or small shovels to give them something to scoop with.
I often use food pouch lids for this. They’re something we typically toss, but they work for this activity and color sorting.
Related: Toy Water Scoop Sensory Bin
22. Have Sensory Fun with Play-Doh
Toddlers love play dough; it helps with fine motor development while strengthening their hands.
When your give your toddler play dough for the first time, you might notice him squeezing and pulling it apart. With plenty of open-ended play opportunities, you will notice your child trying other things, such as:
- Hiding objects in the play dough
You can always make your own play dough, but if you aren’t interested in DIY, grab some packs of Play-Doh to keep at home. It’s always one of the best rainy day activities for 18 month olds.
23. Finger Paint and Make a Mess
Bring out your toddler’s artistic side and finger paint.
Listen, I know – dealing with messes is the last thing you want to do, but it’s worth it. Not only is finger painting a form of sensory play, but kids need a chance to work on those artistic skills in a free environment. Making crafts doesn’t develop artistic skills in the same way.
All you need is some simple washable finger-paints and mixed media paper. Using thicker paper helps prevent the paint from leaking through.
24. Finger Paint WITHOUT The Mess
Sometimes, making a mess just doesn’t fit into your plans for the day. That’s okay!
This no-mess finger paint activity idea came when trying to give my toddlers a fun experience right after a bath. I realized that I didn’t want them to get all messy once again so I came up with this activity.
You put the paint on a plate inside of a plastic bag – or just put the paint in the bags! – and finger paint. I suggest making sure you duct tape the ends closed to ensure no explosions happen.
Related: No-Mess Finger Paint Activity
25. Doodle with Chalk
I can’t lie; I love chalk. It’s pretty much a no-mess art supply since chalk brushes off easily.
Drawing with chalk is fun for all ages; it feels different than crayons and disappears with water or wiping away. A chalkboard easel provides plenty of fun for your toddler and gives your child the opportunity to doodle, scribe, and draw lines.
I love the Melissa & Doug Standing Art Easel. One side is a chalkboard, and the other side is a dry erase board. It also holds paper for drawing and has space for paint cups.
It’s not too hard to find enjoyable 18 month old activities. Pay attention to what your child enjoys the most when selecting the things to do that day together!