Your 18-month-old bundle of joy now moves independently. He toddles around in a cute gait, scribbles on anything he fancies (those walls!), babbles words like “mommy” and “daddy”, and has a toothy smile. Also, it is time when he wants to be fully engaged in play and hates getting bored. It means that you have to select games and activities for your 18-month-old’s physical and mental development.
MomJunction brings you a set of games and activities to boost the developmental process in your 18-month old toddler.
Let’s first understand the growth milestones your baby is likely to reach around this age.
Key Developmental Milestones For An 18-Month-Old
Within this one-and-a-half year, you baby has learned a lot. Right from blinking and smiling at you to crawling and throwing tantrums, you have seen him do all that. So, what does he learn now?
- Better attention and thinking: If your 18-month-old loves a game, toy or an activity he will sit and play with it for a longer time than he did as a baby. He will also be good at interpreting cause and effect actions and use past experiences to draw inferences.
- Improved physical development: He can now walk quite independently and can run in short bursts. His muscles are capable of performing complex actions like feeding himself with a spoon (clumsily, though!), removing some pieces of clothing like a jacket or sweater, and wearing simple footwear like flip-flops.
- Shaper senses: Your toddler can now see objects and recognize faces at a distance. He will also remember familiar sounds (mom’s hairdryer, dad’s car horn), and respond appropriately to it. If he did not like a food item earlier, he would decline to eat it again since he remembers the taste.
- Improved social skills: He enjoys sitting in front of his parents and play. He will then show you his achievement in the activity and expect a reward or appreciation. He may throw a tantrum when he is forced to be in the company of people he does not like. An 18-month-old will now be cautious towards strangers and display affection towards familiar faces. He will now also speak simple but meaningful words.
[ Read: Fun Physical Activities For Toddlers ]
Therefore, what can be the right games and activities that will give an impetus to his learning?
25 Games and Activities For 18-Month-Old
Every time you play with your toddler, try a different game. See which activity he likes the most. We have divided the 18 month old activities and games into three categories to make it easy for you to choose:
- Developmental activities
- Educational and learning activities
- Sensory activities
Developmental activities target the physical, mental and social development of your baby.
You will need: Your partner, a music player, and a few other tots.
How to: Make the tots stand in a row with your partner leading it. Instruct them to dance at the same spot while the music plays. The moment music stops, you shout “Freeze!” and everyone freezes at their place. Do not have any elimination, but give a treat to the one who stays still for the longest time. Ensure that all get a treat by the end of the game. The idea of having your partner is to provide a visual cue to the tots in case they get confused.
Skills developed: Social play, muscle coordination
2. The Laundry Basket Game
You will need: A laundry basket full of clothes
How to: Fill the laundry basket with clothes and put it in front of the baby. Ask him to “take out” the clothes from the basket. Show him how to do it in case he does not understand. Once he is done taking out all the clothes, ask him to put them back again. Reinforce the activity by asking him “Did you put the clothes in the basket?” to which he would nod his head and say “Yes!”.
Skills developed: Instruction obedience, instruction-action interplay
3. Walk The Line
You will need: Packaging duct tape
How to: Stick the tape in a straight line on the floor for a length of around eight feet. Once done, ask your baby to place his feet along the line and walk from one end to another. In case he wobbles, exclaim some words of encouragement. The best way to initiate this game for 18-month-olds is to lead the way and walk the line while he follows you. You can also hold his hand for extra support.
Skills developed: Body balance, fine muscle control
4. Ball Meets The Bucket
You will need: A light plastic ball, a bucket or basket
How to: This is a great activity to benefit the motor skills of your 18-month-old. Draw a line on the floor with chalk and make the toddler stand behind it. Place the bucket about three feet away and ask him to throw the ball, overhand, into the bucket. Repeat the activity regularly, and once your baby achieves a certain skill, increase the distance between him and the bucket.
Skills developed: Gross motor skills, judgment of distance
5. Puzzles And Mazes
You will need: Old carton boxes – no taller than your little one
How to: Here is an amazing outdoor activity for your 18-month-old. Take some old carton boxes, and disassemble to form single sheets. Arrange them in a way to create mazes in an outdoor area or lawn. You can see any simple paper-based maze or puzzles for reference and replicate the design in three dimensions. Once done, ask your little one to enter the maze and encourage him to find his way out. Keep the length of the maze small and simple. Make some small changes to the maze to keep things exciting.
Skills developed: Basic problem-solving, understanding of space-direction interplay
[ Read: Group Activities For Your Toddler ]
6. Zig-Zag Walk
You will need: Small toy traffic cones, a toy
How to: Arrange the cones in a zig-zag pattern for a distance of about 10 feet. Make your toddler walk through the cones. Place a toy at the end of the trail and when your 18-month-old reaches the end, ask him to pick the toy and come back the same path. Great game on a lazy afternoon!
Skills developed: Muscle coordination, body balance
7. The Slipping Ice
You will need: Bowl, chopping board, ice cubes
How to: You can play this right on your dining table. Take a bowl and hold a chopping board at an inclination close to it. Ask the baby to pick an ice cube and slide it over the chopping board in a manner that the cube falls into the bowl. Keep moving the bowl to different positions to up the challenge and maintain the baby’s interest. The sight of a sliding ice cube is surely going to leave him engrossed. You can color the ice cube by dissolving some food-based color in the water before freezing it.
Skills developed: Object motion interpretation
8. Pass The Ball At Once!
You will need: A couple of light plastic balls
How to: Sit down on the floor and make your toddler sit opposite at a distance of about two feet. Give him a plastic ball while you hold one yourself. Ask him to pass the ball and the moment he does you slide your ball towards him. Repeat the instruction, and when he passes the ball, you pass yours again. Soon, he understands that he gets your ball when he slides his, and he will subsequently anticipate things.
Skills developed: Cause and effect, Understanding a pre-decided event
9. Find Hidden Object
You will need: Some small toys
How to: It is a great indoor activity for your 18-month-old. Make your toddler stand at the doorway while you hide about dozen small toys all across the room. You do this in his line of sight, which means he sees you hiding the objects. Once you are done, you ask him to find the hidden toys one by one. Prompt and encourage him all throughout the activity.
Skills developed: Memory recall, event-memory interplay
10. Join The Music
You will need: Small drums, rattle, some musical instruments, and your partner
How to: Here is a great way to have your very own musical ensemble. Give your partner a rattle while you take another musical instrument like a guitar. Give the toy drum to your baby and ask him to beat it when you string a certain tone. Maintain a certain rhythm so that the baby understands the exact moment he needs to tap the drum.
Skills developed: Music-rhythm interplay, basic coordination
[ Read: Art And Craft Activities For Toddlers ]
11. Hide And Seek
You will need: You, your baby and partner
How to: Nothing beats this good old family game! You can play this with your toddler while your partner can keep an eye on your baby. You can play it indoors or outdoors. Make it a point you hide at places where your baby is quite likely to find you. This is a great way of spending quality time with your baby.
Skills developed: Social bonding, Curiosity
Educational and Learning Activities
These activities are educational in nature and acquaint your 18-month old to basic pre-schooling knowledge.
12. Match The Tag
You will need: Sheet of paper, a pen
How to: Write down the names of basic household items like bed, shoe, table, etc. each on a piece of paper. Show these tags to your toddler and point at the item it means. Do so a couple of times. Shuffle the tags and then hand each tag at a time and ask your baby to place it on the object. Remember your baby cannot read. Therefore, he will understand the tag by the sound only. So repeat the word until he understands. In case he seems disoriented, prompt him with words like “Oh look where the bed is.” Repeat the activity regularly, each time with a new set of objects.
Skills developed: Language skills, object-noun association
13. Simon Says…
You will need: Your partner
How to: Ask your partner to play the part of Simon. He then exclaims “Simon says…” followed by an action phrase. If he says “Simon says, touch your nose!”. Ask your child to touch his nose. Your partner says “Simon says, touch your ears!”. You touch your ears while looking at your toddler, and he will repeat the same. Continue the activity with other parts of the body and objects.
Skills developed: Basic learning of various parts of the body, object-noun association
14. Everything In Pairs, Please
You will need: Pair of cards with identical illustrations
How to: Take a set of cards and lay them on a table. Give the corresponding set of cards to your toddler and ask him to place it beside the card with the matching image. Use verbal cues to encourage him to find it. Every time he finds a match and forms a pair, appreciate him with some reassuring words. Use simple images on the cards like that of a cat, dog or other objects that the baby can recognize.
Skills developed: Object and pattern recognition, understanding pairs
15. Match Balls And Basket
You will need: Three or more colored baskets with plastic balls of corresponding colors.
How to: This activity is quite similar to the previous one. Take three baskets of a color each and place them in a row. Bring another basket with several balls that correspond to the color of the baskets. Ask your toddler to pick the balls and place them in the basket of a matching color. Give him clues if he makes a mistake, and appreciate him whenever he gets a match right.
Skills developed: Color recognition, grouping similar items together
[ Read: Fun Activities For Toddlers At Home ]
16. Counting On Fingers
You will need: You and your baby
How to: An 18-month-old will be able to use his fingers with improved dexterity. This makes it a great time to introduce him to basic numbers through fingers. You can start with numbers from 1 to 5, and if the baby shows interest, you can teach him up to 10. The best way to start is to show him a finger and say “one” then show him two fingers and say “two”, and so forth. To reinforce the number in his mind show him the number of fingers and ask him “How many?” and he will reply with the number.
Skills developed: Basic preschool mathematics, basic number-quantity association
17. Trace The Drawing
You will need: Basic drawings, butter paper
How to: Your toddler will love holding a crayon and scribbling around on surfaces. Channelize this interest in art through trace and draw activity. You can buy any tracing book available in the market or print your own simple illustrations and make him trace on a butter paper. Make sure the illustrations are simple for him to draw. He may trace clumsily, but he is just getting started!
Skills developed: Introduction to art, hand-eye coordination
18. Paper Folding
You will need: Colored paper
How to: Fold some colored papers into basic shapes and show him the steps you take to fold the paper. Start with basic shapes like a paper fan, which your toddler can play later. The best way to involve him in the activity is to grab his attention by saying “Look what mommy is making!”. Once you got his attention hand him a paper and hold his hands and help him replicate the folds you made.
Skills developed: Introduction to art, interpretation, and imitation
19. String The Guitar
You will need: A guitar
How to: Music can transfix a baby. Make your baby sit in your lap. Bring a guitar close to you in a way he can see. String some chords and see your baby’s reaction; ask him to string the same chord you just strung. Let him experiment while you make sure his fingers are not hurt.
Skills developed: Introduction to music, tactile response
20. Building Blocks
You will need: A building block set
How to: A simple, classic game for toddlers that can also be a great way of teaching them how to stack objects properly. Buy a building block set that is vividly colored, and has varying drawings on them to attract your 18-month’s attention.
Skills developed: Knowledge of object interaction and balance
[ Read: Articulation Activities For Toddlers ]
These activities stimulate the sensory reflexes of your baby and help him interpret things.
21. Animal Sounds
You will need: Recordings of various animal sounds
How to: Play an audio of an animal sound, for example, a lion roaring, and exclaim to your toddler, “Whoa, that is a lion!”. Do so with other animal sounds and then play them again. Each time a sound is played, prompt your toddler to name the animal. You can even mimic the sound to add an element of fun and make your baby learn better.
Skills developed: Sound-object association, sound recall
22. Smell The Name!
You will need: Your baby’s favorite food items
How to: Make him sit in your lap and gently cover his eyes with your hand. Bring his favorite food item close to his nose and tell its name. Prompt him to say along with you. Use food items with short and simple words that are easy for an 18-month-old to pronounce.
Skills developed: Object-smell association
23. Dough Lumps
You will need: Wheat flour dough and a plate
How to: Toddlers love exploring objects with their hands. Here is a fun sensory activity for your 18-month-old. Take some wheat flour dough and show your baby how to make lumps using hands. Ask him to make lumps and place them on a plate. You can make these dough balls together. He will get messy after the activity so play before his bath time.
Skills developed: Shape making, tactile experience
24. Paint Palm Print!
You will need: Food-based colors, piece of paper
How to: Buy some edible colors or make some at home using vegetable puree. Make a set of five colors and pour them into bowls. Ask your baby to dip his palm in the color and leave a palm print on a piece of paper. Encourage him to make some design and reassure him with words like “Wow, that’s nice”. His artwork may not last since the paints are food-based, but they will be safe in case he puts his hands in the mouth.
Skills developed: Color familiarization through touch and vision
25. Family Photo Time
You will need: Family photo album
How to: Sit with your baby and open the family album. Point your finger at each individual in the photographs and ask him who that person is. He will definitely recognize his parents, but this is the right time to acquaint him with other relatives. Every time you point at someone in the picture, say the relationship, and make your toddler repeat it.
Skills developed: Visual memory reinforcement, Face recognition
[ Read: Alphabet Activities To Preschoolers ]
Those were some amazing games and activities for 18-month old baby to nurture his sensory, cognitive and physical development. But to make them interesting, you need to know the trade secrets.
5 Basic Tips For Parents Of 18-Month-Olds
Follow these secrets of having a fun time with your 18-month-old.
- Babies can be moody and throw temper tantrums. So, introduce an activity when he is in a playful mood.
- Keep switching between different activities. Also up the challenge in an activity if you observe your baby finds the game so easy that he gets bored quickly.
- Each baby is unique. Be patient if your baby takes more time than his peers to understand and participate in an activity.
- Do not thrust a game on your 18-month-old in case he repeatedly shows disinterest to the point of frustration and crying.
- Always interact with your baby no matter what the game. Do not just be a mute observer. Speak to your baby, prompt him, and hold his hand to help him. An 18-month-old will show more interest if you play along and provide feedback and encouragement.
Do not be ambitious. Do not force your baby to learn words, identify people and objects, or pronounce their names. Some babies can accomplish the tasks while some may not. They still have a long time to learn. So, give them that time.
So, what are the favourite activities for your 18-month-old? Let us know in the comment section.
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