25 Fun Games And Activities For Your 18-Month-Old Baby

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Your 18-month-old toddler is bound to be moving around independently. You may want to know about some exciting games and activities for 18-month-old babies to keep them engaged. Whether toddling around, scribbling something on the walls, saying the first word, or even getting the first tooth, these are the milestones that must be tracked. There is a time when you must engage your child and keep them occupied to ensure healthy physical and mental development.

Here are some of the games that you may consider exploring and trying for your toddler.

Key Developmental Milestones For An 18-Month-Old

Within one-and-a-half years, your baby has learned a lot. Right from looking and smiling at you to crawling and throwing tantrums, you have seen them do all that. So, what do they learn now? (1) (2)

  1. 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 they did as a baby. They will also be good at interpreting cause and effect actions and use past experiences to draw inferences.
  1. 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.
  1. Shaper senses: Your toddler can now see objects and recognize faces at a distance. They will also remember familiar sounds (mom’s hair dryer, dad’s car horn), and respond appropriately to it. If they did not like a food item earlier, they would refuse to eat it again since they remember the taste.
  1. Improved social skills: They enjoy sitting in front of their parents to play. They will then show you achievements in the activity and expect a reward or appreciation. They may throw a tantrum when he is forced to be in the company of people they do not like. An 18-month-old will be cautious towards strangers and display affection towards familiar faces. They may now also speak simple but meaningful words.

Therefore, what can be the right Read on to explore some interesting and age-appropriate games and activities that will give an impetus to learning of an 18 month old baby.

25 Games and Activities For 18-Month-Old

Every time you play with your toddler, try a different game. See which activity they like the most. We have divided the 18-month-old activities and games into three categories to make it easy for you to choose:

  1. Developmental activities
  2. Educational and learning activities
  3. Sensory activities

Developmental Activities

Developmental activities target the physical, mental and social development of your baby.

1. Freeze!

Image: iStock

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 the 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 dance with them is to provide a visual cue to the tots in case they get confused (3).

Skills developed: Social play, muscle coordination

2. The Laundry Basket Game

Image: Shutterstock

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 them to “take out” the clothes from the basket. Show them how to do it in case they do not understand. Once they take out all the clothes, ask them to put them back again. Reinforce the activity by asking them “Did you put the clothes in the basket?” to which they would nod their head and say “Yes!”

Skills developed: Instruction obedience, instruction-action interplay

3. Walk The Line

Image: iStock

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 their feet along the line and walk from one end to another. In case they wobble, 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 to make them follow you. You can also hold their hand for extra support.

Skills developed: Body balance, fine muscle control

Quick tip
After a few practice sessions, you could also challenge your toddler to try and finish walking within a set time.

4. Ball Meets The Bucket

Image: Shutterstock

You will need: A light plastic ball, a bucket or basket

How to: This is a great activity to develop 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 them to throw the ball, overhand, into the bucket. Repeat the activity regularly, and once your baby achieves a certain skill, increase the distance between them and the bucket.

Skills developed: Gross motor skills, judgment of distance

5. Puzzles And Mazes

Image: Shutterstock

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 refer to 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

6. Zig-Zag Walk

Image: Shutterstock

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

Image: Shutterstock

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 keep 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!

Image: Shutterstock

You will need: A couple of light plastic balls

How to: Sit down on the floor and make your toddler sit opposite you at a distance of about two feet. Give them a plastic ball while you hold one yourself. Ask them to pass the ball and the moment they do, you slide your ball towards them. Repeat the instruction, and when they pass the ball, you pass yours again. Soon, they will understand that they will attain a ball from your end when they slide theirs, hence improving their predicting skills.

Skills developed: Cause and effect, Understanding a pre-decided event

9. Find Hidden Object

Image: Shutterstock

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 a dozen small toys all across the room. Do it in their line of sight, which means they see you hiding the objects. Once you are done, ask them to find the hidden toys one by one. Prompt and encourage them all throughout the activity.

Skills developed: Memory recall, event-memory interplay

10.  Join The Music

Image: iStock

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 play a certain note. 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

11. Hide And Seek

Image: Shutterstock

You will need: You, your baby and partner

How to: Nothing beats a good old family game! You can play this game 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 (4).

Skills developed: Social bonding, Curiosity

Point to consider
While playing hide and seek with your little one, it is important to monitor them closely to avoid any mishaps. Avoid dark places, widespread outdoors or any space that may prove to be harmful.

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

Image: Shutterstock

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, they will understand the tag by the sound only. So repeat the word until they understand. In case they seem disoriented, prompt them 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…

Image: Shutterstock

You will need: Your partner

How to: Ask your partner to play the part of Simon. They must exclaim “Simon says…” followed by an action phrase. If they say “Simon says, touch your nose!”. Ask your child to touch their 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

Image: Shutterstock

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 them to place it beside the card with the matching image. Use verbal cues to encourage them to find it. Every time they find a match and form a pair, encourage them with some appreciative 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

Image: Shutterstock

You will need: Three or more colored baskets with plastic balls of corresponding colors.

How to: The 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 them clues if they make a mistake, and appreciate them whenever they get a match right.

Skills developed: Color recognition, grouping similar items together

16. Counting On Fingers

Image: Shutterstock

You will need: You and your baby

How to: An 18-month-old will be able to use their fingers with improved dexterity. This makes it a great time to introduce them to basic numbers through fingers. You can start with numbers from 1 to 5, and if the baby shows interest, you can teach them up to 10. The best way to start is to show them a finger and say “one” then show them two fingers and say “two”, and so forth. To reinforce the numbers in their mind, show them the number of fingers and ask them “How many?” and let them reply with the number.

Skills developed: Basic preschool mathematics, basic number-quantity association

17. Trace The Drawing

Image: Shutterstock

You will need: Basic drawings, butter paper

How to: Your toddler will love holding a crayon and scribbling around on surfaces. Channelize their 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 them trace on a butter paper. Make sure the illustrations are simple for them to draw. They may trace clumsily, but they are just getting started!

Skills developed: Introduction to art, hand-eye coordination

18. Paper Folding

Image: Shutterstock

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 with later. The best way to involve him in the activity is to grab his attention by saying “Look what mommy is making!”. Once you get 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

Image: Shutterstock

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 and hold it so they can see the strings. Strum on the strings and see your baby’s reaction; ask them to play on the strings. Let them experiment while you make sure their fingers are not hurt (5).

Skills developed: Introduction to music, tactile response

20. Building Blocks

Image: Shutterstock

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 to attract your 18-month old’s attention.

Skills developed: Knowledge of object interaction and balance

Sensory Activities

These activities stimulate the sensory reflexes of your baby and help him interpret things.

21. Animal Sounds

Image: iStock

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!

Image: iStock

You will need: Your baby’s favorite food items

How to: Make them sit in your lap and gently cover their eyes with your hand. Bring their favorite food item close to their nose and tell its name. Prompt them to say the name along with you. Use food items with short and simple names that are easy for an 18-month-old to pronounce.

Skills developed: Object-smell association

23. Dough Lumps

Image: Shutterstock

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 your hands. Ask them to make lumps and place them on a plate. You can make these dough balls together. They will get messy after the activity so play before their bath time (6).

Skills developed: Shape making, tactile experience

24. Paint Palm Print!

Image: Shutterstock

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 their palm in the color and leave a palm print on a piece of paper. Encourage them to make some designs and praise them with words like “Wow, that’s nice”. their artwork may not last since the paints are food-based, but they will be safe in case they put their hands in their mouth.

Skills developed: Color familiarization through touch and vision

25. Family Photo Time

Image: Shutterstock

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, mention the relationship, and make your toddler repeat it.

Skills developed: Visual memory reinforcement, Face recognition

Those were some amazing games and activities for an 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 (7).

  1. Babies can be moody and throw temper tantrums. So, introduce an activity when he is in a playful mood.
  1. Keep switching between different activities. Also up the challenge in an activity if you observe that your baby finds the game so easy that he gets bored quickly.
  1. Each baby is unique. Be patient if your baby takes more time than their peers to understand and participate in an activity.
  1. Do not thrust a game on your 18-month-old in case he repeatedly shows disinterest to the point of frustration and crying.
  1. 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.

While planning games and activities for an 18-month-old, consider their developmental milestones. Understand that each child grows at their own pace and hence refrain from panicking if your child is not able to perform a particular task. Instead, introduce the activity to them and let their comfort levels take the lead. It may also help to include activities focussing on each area of their development. This way, your child can simultaneously work on their cognitive, motor, and observation skills for holistic development.

Infographic: Games And Activities For Your 18-Month-Old

By this age, your baby would have learned to communicate little things; and it is essential to engage them in diverse activities that enhance their skills and overall development. This infographic suggests some simple activities and games for your 18-month-old; look for the ones most suitable for their interests.

18 month old’s development  [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team


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