Updated on April 20, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
What we know for sure about this super adorable age is that these tiny little humans are full of tons of energy. Since it’s not always possible to go outside, you’ll want to have a lot of fabulous ideas on hand. Whether it be a rainy day, the winter months or just a chill weekend at home, we’ve rounded up our favorite stay inside activities to ensure you can keep baby happy and learning the entire time!
Also see our free activities for eighteen-month-olds near the end of the article for more clever ideas.
21 Engaging Activities for 18-Month-Olds
At 18 months, your little one is investigating the world around them. They are still super excited to hold new things in their tiny hands. They love to manipulate their fingers and figure out special puzzles on their own. It’s no surprise that every doctor’s office is bursting with tons of classic bead mazes. These educational tools have been educating wee ones for years and for good reason. They are great at stimulating the mind, encouraging hand and eye coordination and teaching colors.
2. Stack ‘Um Up
If you haven’t already, now is the time to introduce your little one to a stacker. They’ll love to take it apart and put it back together. Seriously, your little one will go crazy for a fun rainbow-colored stacker. Plus, it teaches them their colors and works on their hand-eye coordination. And these days, they’re also super chic and totally cute for your playroom.
Okay! This is real talk, mamas. Sometimes there is going to be a moment when you’re going to need to take a call or make some tea or check an email. As we navigate this new realm of work life, there is nothing more important than a fun playpen area for your littles to play. If you haven’t tried one yet, it is a mommy game-changer! But beware of plain fenced in versions. As your little one grows, they will want to jump out of those basic areas unless being inside is more fun than being out. This multicolored, adjustable, super loaded playpen is perfect for mama and baby to play!
4. Walk The Dog
If you’ve got a bouncing 18-month-old around the house then they’ve probably started walking by now. It’s time for an absolutely adorable pull toy! Sure, there are chic, wooden versions available but my littles love to walk around the house with their very own pup. They feed it and even take it outside for walks! You can also rest easy that Vtech has education at the forefront of their design with colors, numbers and songs included as you walk. Seriously, this little thing even barks!
Little tots still take a few little tumbles. May we suggest a playmat that also functions as a built-in play place? You’ll have to spend a few minutes showing your little one how to use it as a stage for imaginary play, but then they’ll be ready to race and roll and play all day.
There’s still nothing better for occupying your tiny one’s time than a great set of blocks! Though there’s nothing wrong with the old-fashioned wooden kind, my worried mama heart rejoices that these B Toys blocks can’t break apart! They also come in the cutest color combos. I also love that there are just enough for a toddler to play without creating a huge mess to clean up!
There’s something special about Sesame Street and the power that Elmo holds over our wee ones. Every single one of my babies has learned their alphabet with this little guy. They love to sing together and always feel encouraged by Elmo’s sweet voice. It’s a win/win for sure.
Guess what? It’s time for your little one to start holding their own cup! There’s nothing sweeter than everyone in the family getting to take lunch breaks together. Your tiniest diner will love practicing to be a big girl or boy! You’ll absolutely adore that these cups are eco-friendly, contain no BPA or phthalates and are designed specifically with little hands in mind!
Remember how I said that 18-monthers love to explore the world with their hands? They also love to stick things in holes. This little hedgehog friend helps toddlers learn colors, mix and match patterns and improve hand and eye coordination.
10. Visit The Farm
If you’re trying to catch at least 15 minutes of quiet play time, then this little farmhouse will do the trick. There are so many fun things to explore and special discoveries to make that will keep your little one occupied and happy for a good stretch of time. Plus, it’s so fun that you just might want to play too!
I love when I feel good about a product my child is playing with. These stacking cups are actually made from plants! And though they look simple, they provide hours of fun. Your little one can stack them, organize them, put stuff in them or play with them in the bath or sensory table.
How cute is this little jungle table? At this age, your babe will much prefer standing to sitting. And they’ll love to reach out and explore all the different animals this table offers. They will learn valuable lessons with imaginative play and practice their hand and eye coordination all while having a blast!
If you haven’t heard me rave about the brand Green Toys, now is the time! I am obsessed with how eco-friendly their company is and how safe the toys are for my children to play with. This sorter comes in super cute colors and provides tons of important developmental play!
14. Read Together
Your little one will love to read these sweet cloth books with you or without you! With special things to figure out on each page, your tot will find enjoyment feeling and exploring all the pages. You’ll rest assured that no parts of the book will detach during play and you’ll set the stage for a lifetime of learning.
If you haven’t already, it’s time to introduce your wee one to crayons! If you have an artistic little guy or gal, they will spend a long time putting crayon to paper. You might even be amazed at how great they can draw at such a young age. If you’re like me, though, you might have a little one that likes to give the crayons a little chomp every so often. These adorable crayons are made from beeswax so if a little oopsy bite happens, you can rest assured that these crayons are super safe.
The cure for any rainy day is always a good concert. A musical kit with many different options helps your little one explore all kinds of instruments from symbols to xylophones. You’ll never know which instrument will pull at their heart strings and stay there for life.
17. Take A Ride
Nothing has been used at my house more than this Minnie ride-on. Little ones can roll up and down the hallways. Though it seems all there is to do is ride, you’d be surprised at how imaginative your littles can be. At my home, our ride-on toy has become a bicycle, a horse and most often, an ambulance or fire truck.
18. Go Fishing
Puzzles are so important for the developing 18-month-old. It really works their brain and helps them with their hand and eye coordination. This little fish puzzle helps children work on their coordination, learn their colors and begin to learn color words. It’s exciting that something so minor can have such a big effect on their growing minds.
You guys! This is just the cutest little play truck there ever was! Your little one will love love love to serve you food and play restaurant with you all day long. This exciting play area will also give you time to send an email or return a call because it offers time for your little one to play fully engaged.
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20. Dig A Tunnel
Your little tot will love crawling through all the tunnels in this amazing play center. We especially love how open and bright it is. The design will help littles who are wary of tight spaces to crawl in without worry.
21. Pretend Play
Who doesn’t love playing with a fun set of hand puppets? They really transcend all generations and ages. Your little one will learn to use their imagination and make believe in the most fun ways imaginable. You’ll love them for extra special story time too!
7 Free Activities For Eighteen-Month-Olds
1. Tech For Beginners
Think technology for tots! There are many developmental apps available to help your toddler explore and learn. Disney and PBS are both at the front lines of developing apps that are just perfect for 18-month-olds.
2. Create A Play Box
One of the best things I’ve done this week is create sensory play kits for my kiddos. You can find an old basket and separate it into a few different sections using cardboard or poster board. Then, put different fun-to-touch items inside. Think cornmeal, slimy creations and big Legos—anything that they will love to feel but will be safe if they were to put it in their mouth.
3. Hoist A Tent
There’s nothing more fun than getting out a ton of blankets and pillows and crafting a super secret fort for play. Your little one will love to grab their toys and hide them in their tent. Rest assured that you’ll receive plenty of check-in “Hi’s” and “Peek-a-boo’s.”
4. Start A Band
If you’ve exhausted all areas of play and can’t think of another thing to do, don’t neglect your kitchen area. Whipping out some pots and pans and wooden spoons is a sure-fire way to make your baby smile and give you just enough time to finish dinner.
5. Workout With Your Wee One
All small kiddos need time to exercise. At 18 months, your little one will love to do baby yoga with you. They’ll learn all kinds of different yoga positions and learn ways to calm down and breathe. (A very important technique for the toddler years!) Get out the mat and find a fun online program to try with your little one. We really enjoy Cosmic Kid’s “Going on a Bear Hunt.” Once they get the hang of it, they may even be able to downward dog all on their own.
6. Mama’s Helper
There’s nothing that your toddler will love more than helping in all the ways they can. Give them the feather duster or their own special cleaning rag and they’ll love to follow you around the house as you tidy up. 18-month-olds are able to throw things in the trash and squat down to pick up toys off the floor. Give them tons of praise and watch how much they love to help mommy and daddy clean up.
The first few years of life are so crucial to your child’s development! It’s a great time to be hands-on and help them learn to navigate the world around them. But it’s also very important to teach them how to play independently. Each of these awesome activities will help your children gain confidence in their own abilities. That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment for just a rainy day.