Activity Ideas for 12-18 Month Olds
Keeping a 12 or 18 month old busy can be a lot of work! I have 5 kids, so I’ve been through that stage several times and know the struggle!
My goal of this post is to help you have a list of activities for 18 month olds or roundabout that age to come back to when you just can’t think of what else to do with your busy little one. ❤️
Some of these you can do alongside them, while others are more independent play activities for when you need to get things done! There’s a time for both – don’t feel bad not sitting on the floor with your child all day. It’s actually very beneficial for your child to have independent play time! THIS SITE gives a whole list of the benefits of independent play and why they’re important.
Don’t forget to do some activities WITH your young one, too….make sweet memories discovering things they’re interested in!
Activities for 12 month olds & Activities for 18 month olds:
- Sensory Play: Set up a sensory bin with safe items like rice, pasta, or water for them to explore textures. This sensory bin table with a lid is perfect for having a special place for this. It would be great on a porch or out in the yard!
- Finger Painting: Let them explore colors and textures with finger paints. You’ll want non-toxic paints like these ones.
- Stacking Blocks: Introduce soft, large blocks for them to stack and knock down. (I wish I had had these large foam blocks for my kids when they were small!) This age seems to get such a kick out of building things and knocking them down, don’t they?
- Reading Books: Choose sturdy board books with colorful pictures and simple stories. This activity can be done with you helping them, OR on their own, especially if you have busy books! This busy book is one of my favorites. It may keep them entertained for a while. 🙂
- Exploring Nature: Take them for short walks to explore nature, like feeling grass or watching birds. We keep a special outdoor bag on hand for collecting “fun things” they find along the way.
- Water Play: Let them splash in a shallow basin of water with cups and toys, or get a simple water table like this one that has some extra-fun features!
- Music Time: Sing songs, play gentle music, or introduce simple musical instruments like shakers. Have you heard of the Yoto Player? My niece has it and loves it – it plays singalong music, reads stories, and more. It’s a great NON-screen option!
- Puppet Shows: Use hand puppets to create simple stories and engage their imagination. If you turn music on for them, they can learn how to make their puppets sing! 🙂
- Bubble Play: Blow bubbles for them to watch and try catching. All my kids have loved this for yearsss. 😆 I always had a no-spill bubble tumbler for my littles ones to use when they wanted to try it by themselves. Saved me messes again and again. 🙂
- Soft Ball Play: Roll or gently throw soft balls for them to catch or bat. This is really good for helping them learn coordination!
- Play Dough: Use homemade or non-toxic play dough for them to squish and shape. THIS RECIPE is simple and stays nice and soft.
- Puzzles: Introduce simple wooden or large-piece puzzles for them to practice hand-eye coordination. We always loved these Melissa & Doug chunky wooden puzzles for this age.
- Mirror Play: Allow them to explore their reflection in a safe mirror and make faces. This “I See Me” lion mirror looks super cute!
- Texture Boards: Create texture boards with safe materials like sandpaper, fabric, or feathers for tactile exploration. Either DIY it (this one looks fun as long as those items are absolutely 100% secure!), or check out this bundle of 15 sensory mats that any 12 or 18 month would love to play with!
- Kitchen Play: Provide safe kitchen utensils and containers for pretend cooking. If you let your child watch you cook, they will eventually mimic you in their play kitchen! The Melissa & Doug play food has always been a favorite in our house, and THIS SET is especially fun because they can “cut” the food in half.
- Sorting Games: Use simple objects like blocks or toys to practice sorting by color or size. This simple set of colored bowls with colored animals would be the perfect sorting activity.
- Peek-a-Boo: Play peek-a-boo using blankets or your hands to encourage social interaction. I think most parents do this a lot! But try to remember this one during a time when your little one is crabby and won’t do anything else. This may be the thing that snaps them out of their funk.
- DIY Sensory Bottles: Create sensory bottles filled with water, glitter, or small objects for visual stimulation. Here’s a great how-to post on making the perfect sensory bottles.
- Obstacle Course: Set up a simple obstacle course using pillows, cushions, and tunnels for crawling and climbing. You’ll have to show them how to do this one, but once you do, they’ll love it! Here’s a great idea laid out with just normal items from in your home.
- Outdoor Picnics: Have a simple picnic in the backyard or a nearby park, letting them explore different textures and tastes. Especially when the weather is nice, take advantage and eat outdoors! I used to use the opportunity of a picnic to introduce new foods to my toddler (aka picky eater) because they were more likely to give something a try when we were in a fun setting!
Save these activities for 18 month olds or roundabout that age!
You’ll be able to use some of the activities in THIS POST as well! ⬇️