Are you looking for fun toddler learning ideas? Or more specifically, activities for your 18 month old?
Look no further! These are 30 of the most stimulating developmental games to play with 18 month old (and are suitable for toddlers up to 24 months). Best believe, this list of activities will be sure to keep your little toddler entertained for hours.
Some of these activities have been recommended by my daughter’s paediatric nurse during her routine reviews.
What should an 18 month old be learning?
A child at 18 months should be encouraged to learn in the 5 key areas of development. These are cognitive, social/emotional, speech/language, fine motor skills and gross motor skills.
For example, one way to encourage a child’s cognitive skills could be teaching them about following basic commands like “give mummy the teddy”.
As explained by Skoolzy, the early years are important to forming a foundation for children’s development in all 5 areas.
I have outlined these key areas below with a list of developmental 18 month old activities.
Related Post: 8 Fun And Educational Shows For Toddlers On Youtube
Cognitive developmental activities for an 18 month old
1. Follow Action songs
Your toddler can learn from nursery rhymes that have animal sounds such as “Old MacDonald” or rhymes that they can do actions to like “Open, Shut Them”. These rhymes help young children to learn the names of objects and sounds.
2. Play Puzzles
At this age, toddlers will begin putting objects together such as simple puzzles. These puzzles can develop their cognitive abilities as it helps their problem solving skills and hand eye coordination. It’s also great for their fine motor skills and speech if you talk them through what each of the pictures are.
My daughter has several different types of these puzzles which help her to learn animal names and sounds, colours, numbers and shapes. One of her animal puzzles is by Melissa and Doug (see image below).
3. Hiding Toys
Get 2 containers such as plastic cups or bowls that look the same. Hide a small toy under one container while your toddler watches. Ask them “where did it go?” Eventually you can start moving the containers around for them to find the toy.
4. Play clean up games
Help your toddler to sort objects into piles. They can help you to sort laundry by putting socks in one pile and shirts in another. Play “clean up” games by encouraging your toddler to put toys where they are stored.
5. Shape sorters
Help your toddler to learn shapes and develop problem solving skills with a shape sorter. My daughter has 2 different shape sorters that she’s been given as presents and one of these is by Fisher Price (and is shown below).
Related Post: Easy Upcycling Craft Activities For Toddlers At Home
Social/emotional developmental activities for an 18 month old
6. Play hide and seek
Playing hide and seek with your 18 month old is fun for both of you both and it helps with bonding. Your child can hide with another person or by themselves for you to find them then take your turn to hide and let your toddler find you.
7. Pretend play with dolls and teddies
Pretend play with your toddler using a doll or a teddy bear. You can make the doll or teddy do whatever your toddler does such as walking, eating, dancing or going to bed. Just include the toy in daily activities and games.
8. Play musical instruments together
My daughter absolutely loves making sounds with her drum and xylophone. Taking an active part in music has been shown to benefit young children in multiple ways including socially and emotionally (especially when you sing and play alongside them).
Banging on drums or a xylophone also improves their fine motor skills. The xylophone pictured below is suitable for children from the age of 1 year and it also includes 2 drums.
9. Teach how to give hugs and kisses
Encourage your toddler to show love and affection to family and even their toys. Try to get them to model you with giving hugs and kisses.
10. Reading and dancing together
Reading with your child helps them to interact with you and improves the bond between you both. The same goes for dancing together to nursery rhymes.
11. Say encouraging words
This may not seem much of an activity but it’s great for their social development nonetheless. Say some comforting words to your toddler each day, especially when they are upset or have been hurt.
It goes without saying just how much showing your affection is good for their emotional well-being and it makes them feel safe and valued. For inspiration, have a look at these 20 encouraging words toddlers should hear daily.
12. Give your toddler some independence
Allow you toddler some independence. Let your little one have time to play alone as they will explore and learn more about their surroundings. They will also learn to be confident in their own company.
How you can help your 18 month old with speech and language skills
13. Make a picture book
Make a picture book by putting common, simple pictures cut from magazines onto a piece of card. Next, ask them to point to the objects you name or ask what they are called. You can do the same with family members, pets, their favourite toys etc.
14. Play the “what’s that” game
Play the “what’s that” game by pointing to clothing, toys, objects and body parts and ask them to name it. If your toddler doesn’t respond then name the objects for them and encourage them to copy.
15. Teach parts of the body through music
Sing action songs together such as “Head Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and do the actions together but wait for them to anticipate the action first.
16. Ask your toddler to hand you items of clothing
Lay out you toddlers clothes on the bed before dressing them. Ask them to give you certain items of clothing and if they can’t then just point and tell them what they are called.
17. Place toys out of toddler’s reach (so they may ask for it)
Put your child’s favourite toys in a laundry basket or a clear container out of their reach (but so they can see the items) and let your toddler ask for the objects. If they do ask for something then respond to their request and give them praise.
What activities help an 18 month old with fine motor skills?
18. Use squeezy objects in the bath
When you toddler is in the bathtub, put squeezable objects in with them such as sponges or squeeze bottles and encourage you child to squeeze them.
My daughter uses Tommee Tippee stack and pour bath cups while in the bath. She has had these for a while but still loves them. They can be stacked one by one on top of each other which helps fine motor skills as well as hand eye coordination. They also help young children to learn cause and effect through water play.
19. Instant pudding finger painting
Make some instant pudding and your toddler can help by adding some milk and stirring the mixture. This is then suitable for them to eat and it’s great for finger painting.
20. Make some creations with playdough
Allowing your toddler to make figures and animals out of Playdough is great for their fine motor skills and creativity. Here is an easy playdough recipe for you to get started with.
21. Have your 18 month old practice blowing bubbles
Help your toddler to develop their fine oral motor skills by encouraging them to blow bubbles through a straw. First, show them how you blow bubbles through a straw then have them practice the same.
22. Colour with non-toxic crayons
Toddlers love doodling and you can help their fine motor skills by giving them some non-toxic crayons and a large piece of paper and let them draw.
23. Stack up used cartons and boxes
Save cartons and boxes which your toddler can then stack up to make towers.
24. Edible messy play
Fill up a plastic tub with some porridge or pasta and put plastic measuring cups, spoons and funnels in there. Your toddler can then play with these by filling up the cups and funnelling the pasta or porridge. Plus, this is safe for them to eat.
What are some gross motor activities for toddlers aged 18 month?
25. Play ball with your 18 month old
There are many activities you can do outside with your toddler which really help their gross motor skills. One of these is practising throwing and kicking a beach ball or soft ball outdoors.
26. Play at the playground
Go to the playground and allow your toddler to ride and rock on some playground toys, swings and small slides. Just make sure that they are not going to fall (you may need to hold them).
27. Let your 18 month old ride a tricycle
Why not try a Smoby push along tricycle (see image below). My daughter has one and loves it!
This tricycle allows parents to push while at the same time their toddler paddles. The parent handle comes off so when your toddler is ready they can then ride solo. This tricycle is easy to push, very easy to manoeuvre and is lightweight.
28. Use a pull along toy
Young children love pull along toys, especially one that has storage. Your toddler can practice putting their toys away while developing their gross motor skills by pulling.
29. Throw beanbags in boxes
Let your toddler practice underarm and overarm throwing. You can get some boxes or buckets which your 18 month old can then throw beanbags into.
30. Paddling in a pool
Another fantastic product that my daughter has loved is a Pool School float. This is a large floating ring for use in swimming pools by young toddlers. Your 18 month old can can sit inside the ring and paddle at the same time, developing their leg muscles.
Related Post: Fun Outdoor Activities For Toddlers And The Family
This is how you can entertain your 18 month old toddler and help their development
The above activities and games for 18 month olds will help your child’s development in these 5 key areas and keep them entertained.
Feel free to leave a comment with your ideas of activities for toddlers that can help other mums.