Toddler’s attention spans are notoriously short, which you’ve probably realized if you’ve ever tried to entertain your 18 month old for an hour, let alone a whole day or week. At this age, your tot is likely exploring their environment at a fast pace. They are also probably getting into everything possible in the process. Keep them entertained, engaged and learning with these 25 fun toddler activities that are perfect for an 18-month-old.
25 Fun Activities for an 18 Month Old
Sensory Play Activities
Both energy and emotions tend to be high with toddlers, so sensory play activities are great! They bring a bit of calm to your 18-month-old’s day. The options are nearly endless when it comes to sensory experiences, but here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Taste-Safe Sensory Doughs – Use non-toxic dough and child-safe cookie cutters to encourage your child to smash, squish and roll the dough, as well as creating fun shapes.
- Rice/Chickpea Bin – Fill a plastic bin with rice or chickpeas and encourage free-play. Let your child use his hands in the bin, but also provide spoons and scoops to aid in his exploration.
- Chasing Bubbles – If the weather permits, take your 18-month-old outside and blow bubbles for him to chase, grab and stomp on. These bubble machines make it so fun because you can jump around and play, too!
- Shaving Cream Play – This one can get a little messy and is best done right before bath time! Spray shaving cream onto a table or tray. Then let your child use their fingers to spread, smear and “paint” in it.
- Pom-Pom Sticky Wall – Use painter’s tape to secure a contact paper to the wall – the sticky side facing out. Provide your kiddo with colorful pom-poms and let them create a masterpiece.
Creative Play Activities
Creative and imaginative play helps toddlers develop physical, intellectual and social skills – and it’s fun! Unleash your 18 month old’s creativity with these activities:
- Painting with Nature – Head outside and grab a few sticks, rocks, leaves or flowers for a special painting project. Encourage your child to use these things, instead of a paintbrush, to create his next masterpiece.
- Marble Art – If painting is a favorite activity, grab an empty show box and squirt multiple paint colors inside. Next, have your toddler drop marbles into the box and roll them around to create fun marble art. I like these bigger marbles, as they are less likely to end up in your kiddo’s mouth.
- Mess-Free Painting – To enjoy paint while keeping the mess at bay, squirt paint into a plastic bag and tape each side to a table or window using easy-to-remove painter’s tape. Your child can finger paint mess-free by manipulating the paint inside the plastic.
- Velcro Blocks – At 18 months, your toddler likely loves trying to stack blocks. However, it’s normal for him to be frustrated at his limited stacking skills at this age. Add Velcro to wooden blocks for extra tacking power – plus, he’ll love pulling the blocks apart, too.
- Sticker Mural – Combining both sensory and creative play, stickers are a toddler favorite. Affix a large piece of butcher paper to the wall and let your toddler create a sticker mural!
- Stacking Games – Sometimes, it’s the most mundane material that entertains 18-month-olds the most. Give your toddler a dozen paper cups or LEGOS and let him stack and play.
Nature Play Activities for 18 Month Olds
Sometimes, store-bought toys and games just won’t do. When your 18-month-old needs a change of pace, let Mother Nature entertain him with activities like these:
- Dissecting Flowers – For a toddler with busy fingers and a curious mind, there’s nothing more fun than pulling petals and leaves from different types of flowers.
- Nature Soup – Give your kiddo a bucket of water and let him fill it with “soup ingredients” like rocks, plants, dirt, and grass. Don’t forget a big spoon for stirring!
- Mud Play – Did you know that playing in the dirt is known to boost a child’s immune system? It’s true! No need to wait for rain either; you can use a water table or empty sandbox to mix up your own mud. Trust me, you will have hours of messy fun.
- Nature Sticky Bracelet – Make a bracelet for your child using tape, making sure to keep the sticky side facing away from his skin. Let him collect all the cool things he can find in your yard or the park and attach them to his bracelet.
- Nature Walk – Fresh air is good for both the body and mind. Consider a nature walk where you collect all the interesting things your 18-month-old finds. You can make a collage with them later, or use them in a future batch of Nature Soup.
Water Play Activities
Perhaps one of the most popular sensory activities for 18-month-olds, water play deserves its own category simply because there are so many options. Consider activities like:
- Washing Toys – You probably need to clean them anyway. Why not set your toddler up at the sink and make a bubble bath for him to clean all his toys?
- Washing Fruit – Let your kiddo help prep for snack time by washing apples. All you need is a bucket of water and a clean toothbrush for scrubbing.
- Scooping and Pouring – This is as simple as it gets, but it can occupy an 18-month-old while also helping to build fine motor skills. Provide a container full of water, an empty container and a scoop and encourage him to scoop and pour all the water into the empty bucket.
- Lego Bath – Add new interest to bath time by adding a Lego Duplo set (linked set is for 2+, so keep a close eye and take out small pieces!) or similar waterproof toy to the water.
Kitchen Play Activities for 18 Month Olds
One of the most difficult things for parents can be to entertain a toddler while trying to cook a meal. Get your kiddo involved in a project in the kitchen so you can keep an eye on him while meal-prepping – it’s a win-win! Here are a few activities to try:
- Banana Peeling – For this activity, cut a banana into thin slices with the peel still on. Then, let your toddler peel each piece individually – and eat it, of course!
- Toddler Cooking – If you have any stale cereal or expired spices in your cupboards, let your 18-month-old get creative and combine it all in a mixing bowl. Add water and let him stir and “cook” just like you.
- Cookie Sheet Magnet Play – Grab a set of toddler-safe magnets, like these cute wooden animals, and a metal cookie sheet. Simply let your little one arrange and rearrange the magnets on the sheet!
- Muffin Tin Sorting Game – Mix up various snacks (like goldfish crackers and Cheerios) in a bowl, and ask your toddler to sort each snack-type into a different section of a muffin tin.
- Yogurt Painting – Add a bit of food coloring to a few small containers of yogurt and let your little one “paint” his plate with his finger or a spoon.
While it does require some creativity and ingenuity to keep an 18-month-old busy and engaged, the above activities provide necessary outlets for his fast-growing brain and his busy toddler body.
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