What to Do with an 18 Month Old: Ideas and Activities
Are you look for suggestions of things to do and activities to entertain an 18 month old. I am the mom of and 18 month old baby boy and this article gives lots of the activities that we do together. It includes outdoor activities, learning activities, things to do on a rainy day and lots of other fun and creative ideas.
I try to have activities that we do and play together and other things to do which will occupy my toddler but also give me a few minutes to myself to get things done or have a rest. If you need a "rest" while looking after you're 18 month old you should start with these 40 ways to entertain your kids while lying down! - lots of ideas for toddlers and kids of all ages.
There are also lots of links to other websites and resources to give more suggestions for the times when you have run out of ideas.
Image courtesy of Tom Clare / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Outdoor Play for 18 Month Olds
My toddler loves to be outside. There are lots of great activities to do with 18 month olds outside. Here are a few ideas.
Go for a walk
Just go outside and start walking. Toddler walks aren't like normal walks - they tend to go in random directions. They will pick up anything they see they are interested in (leaves, stones, rubbish!). You probably won't get very far but it's nice to see what they are interested in and all the little things that fascinates them. You can talk to them about what you see - cats, the grass, dogs, cars, people. Here are 5 more ideas of things to do on walk with a toddler.
At 18 months you can start playing with a ball outside. Encourage them to throw it. They will just drop it at first. They will enjoy kicking it, running over to it and picking it up.
If you have access to a sand pit or the beach your 18 month old will love playing with the sand. My son loves playing in the sand pit at his toddler group. He will spend as long as 20 minutes filling up pots with sand. He loves me to make sandcastles and then to squash them. He does get dirty and you have to stop him from eating it sometimes but it's one of his favorite activities.
I have just spent 15 minutes outside blowing bubbles for my son and he didn't want to stop. He has learned the word for bubble and kept saying "again" so that I would blow more. They were fascinating for him.
Image courtesy of AKARAKINGDOMS / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
One of the activities my 18 month old son loves the most is playing with water. There are lots of ways to get them to play with water. Here are a few:
Bath time in the middle of the Day
I don't always wait until the end of the day to give him a bath. Quite often I will bath him in the middle of the day. I give him a variety of different containers to fill and pour water into. He just loves sitting in the bath, pouring water in and out of containers. He will turn the tap on and play with water coming out of the tap. While he is doing this I can clean the bathroom or sit down next to the bath and read a book or a magazine so I can keep on eye on him and have some me time. Of course sometimes I play with him but he pretty much entertains himself.
Water Play Outside
We have a water table outside which my son loves to play with. It's great when it's hot and sunny but even if it's cloudy day I can put him in his waterproofs and he can play with the water outside. Again he loves to pour water in and out of containers. If you don't have a water table you could fill up a large bowl or a bucket and give your toddler containers to play with and boats to float.
My son loves to go swimming. Where I live you can go to toddler and parent swimming sessions so check your local pool to see what's available. I find that 30 minutes is enough time to be in the pool before my son gets too cold and it's time to get out. But he loves splashing and playing in the water. The best thing about swimming is is tires my son out. So I know when we swim, he'll have a long afternoon nap!
Paint a Wall
I haven't tried this with my 18 month old yet but when it gets a bit warmer I will. You fill a bucket up with water and get a couple of paintbrushes, then show your toddler how to paint a wall. Of course the "paint" is water so will dry but it's amazing how much it keeps the occupied (I used to do this with my older son when he was a toddler). They may decide the are not going to paint and get wet instead so it's a good activity for a hot day.
More Water Play Ideas for 18 Month Olds
Looking for more fun ways to play with water, check out the links below.
- Water Play to do with Your Toddler Right Now
Lots of ideas to play with water with toddlers. Most of for outdoor play but some can be adapted for games to play in the bath too.
Indoor Activities - Perfect for a Rainy Day
My little on loves books. At the moment he loves a finger puppet book. You can get them from amazon. We can have a session of reading books for up to 30 minutes. A good activity to do to wind down before a nap or at the end of the day.
This is one of my favorite activities. We pour tea and then drink it and have cake. It's so simple but my son is learning lots of words through the tea parties and it's sweet to hear him say "cake", "hot" and "drink".
Kitchen Cupboard Exploration
Toddlers of this age love to explore through all kinds of cupboards. Obviously you won't want them to break all your plates so it's good to give them a dedicated cupboard just for them. Fill it with all kinds of stuff which is safe for them to get out and explore. It can be toys, plastic bottles filled with water, other plastic containers filled with rice, toothbrushes, hairbrushes or whatever they show an interest in. My 18 month old will spend ages getting the things out of his cupboard. He especially likes plastic milk and other bottles filled with water. He will sit for ages watching the liquid move inside the bottle (if you do this make sure the lid is screwed on tight!). Find more ways to entertain your toddler while you're both in the kitchen.
It's amazing how much fun you can have with a wooden spoon and a couple of saucepans. Show your 18 month old how to make noise!
It's amazing how much fun you can have with balloons. Blow them up and play bat the balloon. Blow up the balloon and let it go and watch your toddler follow it around the room.
Toddlers will enjoy watching teddies and puppets comes to live. Give teddies silly voices, make them pop out from behind your back or behind a cushion. Tell a simple story with your puppets. Here are some more ideas for toddler puppet shows.
Grand Old Duke of York
We sing lots of nursery rhymes and songs with actions and movements. One he really loves is "The Grand Old Duke Of York". We march around the room as we are singing and I move up and down. Again he loves to copy me and pretend to march. There are lots of great physical nursery rhymes which are great for this age. Here are some more examples of some nursery rhymes with lots of big movements and physical actions:
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Photo by Robert S Donovan / Flickr
Nursery Rhymes on Youtube
Games to Play with 18 Month Old
18 Months old is a good time to start playing chase. I tell my son "I'm coming to get you!" and run after him. He hasn't quite got the idea of running away yet and sometimes runs towards me but it's fun all the same!
Encourage your toddler copy you doing activities. We stamp our feet, spin round in a circle, dance, touch our toes, put our hands in the hair and lots more. This can be extended to everyday activities. Get your toddler to copy you brushing your teeth and wash their face. Your toddler could brush your hair and get your toddler to try and brush his or her own.
We don't have a big house but my toddler loves it when we play running from one end of the house to the other. We start on one end and I say "Ready, Steady, Go", then I start to run to the other end of the room. My boy then copies me. Then we do it again and again! My son has now started staying "Ready, Steady, Go" and starts running first. He loves this one and it's so cute to watch him "run". It wears him out too.
Places To Go
I always enjoy going to new places with my toddler. Check out your local area as there is often lots of things going on. Here are some ideas.
I take my son to the library. They run toddler sing and story sessions at mine. Other times we go to look at the books and we read a couple of new stories. It's good for exploring the types of books your 18 month old enjoys.
Playground and parks are good. Play games on the swings. I pretend that he is going to touch me with his feet and jump away just before he touches me. When your fed up with the playground take them to a big green space and do some of the outdoor activities listed above such as blowing bubbles or kicking a ball. Take a picnic in the Summer and have a tea party. Or bring their toddler trike or bike.
Toddler groups are playgroups are great fun for this age. They will have the opportunity to play with different toys and interact with other children. Many groups have a singalong session too.
See the animals
Is there anywhere near you where you can visit animals. Even if it's just feeding the duck in the pond or watching the birds and cats outside, toddlers love watching animals. Small farm parks or petting zoos are good for this age.
Sensory Activities for 18 Month Old
There are lots of sensory activities you can do with your toddler. Here are a few ideas:
Fill a large container with dried pasta. Put in some hidden small figures and toys for them to find. Have another bowl next to the pasta to use to sieve through the pasta. My son likes to move the pasta between the containers. Don't leave them on their own for this one! You have to keep a close eye on the for this one to make sure they don't put the dried pasta in their mouth as it's a choking hazard. But this kept my son occupied for ages. For this idea and others check out this article on Everyday sensory play in preschool
Hair Gel Bag
Fill a clear plastic bag with hair gel, Make sure it's secure and can't come out. Toddlers will enjoy filling the squishy gel bag. Check out this article for some pictures.
As simple as it sounds. This has been tried and tested by A Mom with a Lesson Plan
Glitter Bottles Fill up a bottle with water and add some glitter. Secure the lid tightly on the top with glue so your toddler can't undo it. My son will spend ages looking at the glitter moving in the water inside the bottles. He turns the bottles upside down and back the right way again. Find out more sensory bottle ideas.
Arts and Crafts Activities for 18 Month Old
My son was 18 months the first time he picked up a paint brush. I showed him how to use the paint brush by dabbing it on the paper. He then made blotches all over the paper. You can also have a go at hand and finger prints at this age. Although make sure their clothes are all covered and you have a bowl of water ready to wash their hands when they're finished. This is a good one to do outside!
Chalking Big pieces of chalk can be used outside on the ground with toddlers or try using them on a blackboard.
Sponge Printing Use a chalk and sponge to make sponge prints.
No glue collage Go for a walk, collect so leaves and make a no glue collage
Edible play doh I take my son to a playgroup where he loves to play with the play doh. The trouble is he likes to eat it too and it's salty so not very good for him. Thankfully if you have a toddler who wants to play with play doh, you can make edible play doh. Check out an easy recipe for edible play doh.
Drawing and coloring You can buy chunky crayons and pens which are the perfect size for little hands to draw with. My son loves drawing and coloring already. And it's a good way to start to teach them to color as well.
Photo by feli / flickr
Drawing and Coloring Toys for 18 Month Olds
Here are some more articles of great things to do with 18 month old toddlers
- Activities for 18 Month Old Baby and Younger
35 activities for 18 month old and younger including art, sensory, gross and fine motor skills, imaginative play and new experiences
- Games to Play with 18 Month Old
Four fun games to play with your toddler this month.
- Easy Toddler Fun
Top tips for keeping their toddlers happy and occupied.
- 101 Things to Do with Your Toddler
The author plans to do each of these things at least once with her little girls.
Reader Poll - the Best Activities
Before You Go, You May Also Be Interested In...
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Comments on Things to Do with an 18 Month Old Toddler
charmed50254 on March 15, 2016:
Thank you for sharing! Always finding new ideas to keep my little one occupied. He has now started pulling things off of shelfs and anything he can get his hands on. :)
Shannon from Florida on December 17, 2014:
You have a lot of useful tips that I think my 17 month old would love. Thank you for sharing!
Scindhia from Chennai on April 30, 2014:
I have a toddler. This lens was very useful. Thanks!
Dhookraj Singh on April 07, 2014:
I will bookmark this page. I love it.
lawyer-marketing on July 12, 2013:
Great idea for us to let the children feel happy.
lawyer-marketing on July 12, 2013:
Great idea for us let the children feel happy.