Buying toys for 18-month-olds can be fun and exciting, but it can also be difficult to know what to look for. After all, your little one is mastering new skill sets every day and needs to be properly challenged. So what are toddlers this age working on, and what types of playthings can help support their development? Read on for expert tips on how to select the best toys for 18-month-olds.
In this article:
What are good toys for 18-month-olds?
Best toys for 18-month-olds
What Are Good Toys for 18-Month-Olds?
“An 18-month-old toddler is developmentally equipped to be an active adventurer within their environment,” says Ashley Scully, MS, OTR/L, a pediatric occupational therapist and director of Northern New Jersey Therapy Services at Tiny Transformations. There are a number of things a child will do successfully at this time, from “walking independently to possibly even backwards for a few steps” Scully says. “They’re learning to walk up and down stairs, with support from their parents and railings, as needed.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), by 18 months, most toddlers can also climb on and off a couch or chair without help. They’re also continuing to hone their fine motor skills: They can use a spoon and scribble with crayons. And for a little one who is advancing their visual motor and perceptual skills, they might be able to “place simple shapes into puzzles and stack two to three blocks or cubes,” Scully adds.
At this age, “they’ll also begin looking at pages in books with others and point to show their parents or brothers and sisters something interesting,” says Jana Sarno, BCBA, a board-certified behavior analyst and chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers. Eighteen-month-olds may also engage in simple, dramatic play. They might pick up a baby doll and pretend to feed them with a bottle, or perhaps turn on a play vacuum and suck up all the dust and dirt on the floor. It’s in these small but purposeful actions that toddlers start emulating the adults around them and becoming more engaged in their surroundings.
When buying toys for 18-month-olds, look for ones that:
- Help hone their balance, motor planning and visual-spatial skills. Toys that feature uneven terrain and different types of surfaces to explore—such as climbing blocks, tunnels, stepping stones, indoor slides and beams—are fantastic for building these skills, Scully says.
- Work their fine motor skills. Scully recommends sensory activities like Play-Doh and pop tubes and even pretend cooking tools that call for stirring and rolling to help boost toddlers’ dexterity and ability to use both hands together.
- Teach toddlers about shapes and sizes. Scully says shape sorters, puzzles, stacking toys and building blocks are great for promoting visual perception and visual motor skills.
- Spark their imaginations. Play kitchens, tea sets, pretend cleaning supplies, baby dolls, tool sets and cars are all wonderful ways to encourage dramatic play and enhance toddlers’ social awareness, Scully says.
- Are developmentally appropriate. Pay attention to the age-rating of a toy, to make sure you’re selecting something that’s safe for this age and offers play opportunities that match their skill levels. “If you’re always buying ahead, you may be presenting toys that a child is simply not ready for and therefore they could become frustrated and lose interest,” Scully says.
Best Toys for 18-Month-Olds
The best toys for 18-month-olds will encourage toddlers to explore their environment and the world they live in. From stepping stones and creative sorters to palm-grip crayons and pull-back cars, you’ll find just about everything to get their busy brains in gear.
Lily & River Little Steps
This set of six brightly colored wooden steps (with anti-slip pads) are a great way to get toddlers stepping, lunging and jumping. They help boost kids’ balance and coordination, plus they’re light enough for little ones to pick up and carry, so full warning—they’ll want to bring these little disks everywhere! Better yet, they’re stackable for easy storage. Age rating: 18 months to 8 years.
Little Tikes My First Slide
As it starts getting colder outside, trips to the park aren’t as likely anymore. In the off-season, we like investing in toys for 18-month-olds that can be used both inside and out, like this slide (which reminds us of the ones we all had in our toddlerhood!). It boasts a compact design and is an excellent way to promote coordination, balance and muscle strength. Age rating: 18 months to 6 years.
Three Hearts Set of 12 Silicone Stacking Blocks
If you’re on the hunt for an introductory blocks set, this is where to start. Stacking and balancing blocks will work those fine and gross motor skills—and the textured silicone will offer relief for toddlers experiencing any teething pain. Plus, numbered blocks offer a chance to do some early counting with your kiddo. Age rating: 3 months+
Piccalio Acrobat Balance Beam
This Montessori-inspired low balance beam is one of the best toys for 18-month-olds, as it’s a fun way for little ones to work on their balance and coordination. The four-beam workhorse strengthens not only toddlers’ muscles and gross motor skills, but also their imagination as they pretend to walk in dreamt-up lands. Best of all, every Piccalio toy is designed to feel and look good in your space, so you don’t need to sacrifice your aesthetic to make your little one happy. Age rating: 12 months to 8 years.
Orange Tree Toys Jungle Elephant Shape Sorter
This wooden elephant shape sorter is a perfect learning toy for 18-month-olds. It has six chunky shapes that can be easily manipulated by little hands, and toddlers can work on color and shape recognition and spacial understanding as they properly sort the shapes. Bonus: The elephant is also a pull toy! Age rating: 12 months to 5 years.
Tender Leaf Toys Stacking Garden Friends
Games aren’t just for the older crew! With this adorable little garden setup, toddlers can stack the creatures on the tree and try to keep them from falling–an exercise in logical thinking, balance and fine motor skills, making it one of our favorite educational toys for 18-month-olds. The figures are made from solid wood and painted with sweet garden motifs, and everything can be packed into the printed drawstring bag for easy storage. Age rating: 18 months.
Bigjigs Toys Safari Cube Puzzle
If your child has a thing for fun, quirky animals, they’ll have an absolute blast gathering the family together for a night of puzzles. Nine wooden puzzle cubes create six different images in this set. Turn each cube around to find the pieces that make up an image, or mix them up for some wild fun! Each chunky wooden puzzle piece is generously sized to make it easier for little hands to lift, grasp, examine and replace. Thanks to its compact dimensions, this makes for a great on-the-go toy, and the handy wooden tray can be used as both a base and a place to safely store all of the puzzle pieces. Age rating: 18 months to 6 years.
Learning Resources Spike The Fine Motor Hedgehog
This colorful hedgehog helps your little one strengthen their fine motor skills through hands-on play, making it one of our favorite picks for the best toys for 18-month-olds. They’ll learn to grip items by picking up Spike’s colorful quills, and become familiar with coordination by sticking the quills in his back. The pegs will also help your little one master color recognition, sorting and patterning, and when playtime is over, you can load them into Spike’s back for easy storage. Age rating: 18 months to 4 years.
My First Library: Box Set of 10 Board Books for Kids
This amazing box set contains 10 well-researched board books to introduce a wide range of learning topics and everyday objects to little scholars. We love the vibrant pictures and variety of subjects available, including ABCs, colors, numbers, fruits and vegetables. It’s the perfect toys for 18-month-olds who enjoy pointing at pages when looking at books with family members. Age rating: 1 to 2 years old.
Manhattan Toy Company Folklore Bug Quartet Musical Wooden Toy Set
Your little one can clack, rattle and clang their way to musical fun with this quartet of bug-themed wood instruments. This developmental toy for 18-month-olds includes a firefly clacker, ladybug rattle, a caterpillar noisemaker and a cymbal bug with leaf-shaped mallets. Your kiddo can use the instruments to advance their cause-and-effect learning while building motor skills and sensory development. Age rating: 1 year+
Crayola My First Washable Palm-Grasp Crayons for Toddlers
These egg crayons are about to become a favorite for you and your toddler to play with when you’re feeling colorful and creative. Plus, they’re ideally shaped to support toddlers’ development at this stage. “Palm crayons easily fit in a child’s hand and don't require a more sophisticated grip, which allows the child to explore scribbling and more open-ended art and color,” Sarno says. Age rating: 12 months+
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Magic Color Mixing Bowl
Ready for a little pretend cooking? With six removable "ingredient" play pieces, two buttons that activate fun songs and sounds and an adorable light-up face, this learning toy for 18-month-olds is deliciously fun! Little ones will get a taste for early academics with songs and phrases that introduce them to the alphabet, colors, numbers and more. Grasping and moving the play pieces in and out of the mixing bowl helps strengthen tots’ dexterity and hand-eye coordination, while pressing the buttons to activate the songs will showcase cause and effect. Age rating: 6 months to 3 years.
About the experts:
Ashley Scully, MS, OTR/L, is a pediatric occupational therapist and director of Northern New Jersey Therapy Services at Tiny Transformations. She has more than 14 years of experience in pediatrics, including impatient and outpatient services at NYU Langone Hospital, New York State early intervention and private practice.
Jana Sarno, BCBA, is a board-certified behavior analyst and the chief clinical officer of Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers. She has worked as the vice president of applied behavior analysis at North Shore Pediatric Therapy and as an infant development program administrator at Coyne & Associates Education Corp.
Plus, more from The Bump:
The Best Sensory Toys for Babies and Toddlers
The Different Stages of Play and How They Help Kids Learn
21 Best Toys for Kids With Autism
"This is a great age for sensory play and exploration," says Schwartz. "Children this age love to get messy! Finger paint, or using foods such as applesauce or pudding to paint with, is a great way to explore art while also engaging in sensory play. Playdough is great to introduce at this age.What toy is the most developmentally appropriate for an 18 24 month old child? ›
"This is a great age for sensory play and exploration," says Schwartz. "Children this age love to get messy! Finger paint, or using foods such as applesauce or pudding to paint with, is a great way to explore art while also engaging in sensory play. Playdough is great to introduce at this age.What toys promote intellectual development in toddlers? ›
Building and construction toys, such as blocks and sets of connecting pieces, promote cognitive development. They are considered “open-ended” toys, which means that children can use the toys to create structures or designs in many different ways.How many toys should an 18 month old have? ›
It's important not to overwhelm the play space with toys. As an approximate guide, try to keep the number of toys immediately available to under 4 for a premobile child, under 8 for a crawling child, and under 12 for a toddler, depending on the size of the space and number of parts to each toy.What toys are best for toddler development? ›
Some examples include a puzzle, a book, or any game with a goal. These can be good for helping children pay attention and learn how to work toward a goal. An open-ended toy can be played in different ways with no definite end. Examples include blocks, mirrors and dolls.What do 18 month old children like to play with? ›
Encourage games that make use of hand and finger skills.
Especially good toys and games for an 18-month-old are those that involve holding something with one hand and doing something else with the other. For example, a music box that works by turning a small handle, or threading pasta onto a string.
- Wooden Shape Sorting Grocery Cart. Melissa & Doug. ...
- Where's Squeaky? Blue Orange Games. ...
- Logical Master Builder Blocks. HABA USA. ...
- Celestial Star Explorer. The Manhattan Toy Co. ...
- Explore & More Grow Along 4-in-1 Activity Walker. Skip Hop. ...
- The Play Kits. Lovevery. ...
- Clean Sweep Learning Caddy. LeapFrog.
- Dual Rattle and Teether. We love this option for the 12-month and under crowd since it acts as both a rattle and a teether. ...
- Sensory Activity Table. ...
- Sensory Balls. ...
- Water Mat. ...
- Light Bar. ...
- Crinkle Book. ...
- Activity Cube. ...
- Suction Toy Construction Set.
- Read books, sing songs and recite nursery rhymes together. ...
- Let your baby hold, drop and roll different balls. ...
- Play with rattles, bells and other toys that make noise.
- Put toys around your baby to encourage movement.
We can throw some things away and give some things away, but at the end of it all, you are only going to have 20 toys left.” We called it The 20-Toy Rule. 20 toys sounds like a lot… or maybe it doesn't. But you'd be surprised at how many things children can accumulate.
Your 18-month-old toddler is now walking and using basic words. At this age, children love to play and explore. They begin to show some independence and may play pretend and point at objects they want. They also begin to understand what things in the house are used for, such as a cup or spoon.Is it normal for 18 month old not to play with toys? ›
Yes. One simple reason why toddlers won't play with toys may simply be because they're overwhelmed. So, if there are too many selections available, your child might take some time before they can choose one to start with. Moreover, when toys are abundant, your kid might latch on to some and ignore the others.What are 3 items toddlers like to play with? ›
- Plastic cups. Cups have so many uses when you're a baby or toddler. ...
- Kitchen roll tubes. ...
- Colander. ...
- Bottles. ...
- Cardboard boxes. ...
- Tupperware. ...
- Cutlery. ...
- Food containers.
What is a Montessori Toy? A Montessori toy is one that stimulates learning by encouraging kids to experiment. It should be a toy that they can hold and touch, as learning to manipulate objects is key in helping children develop their fine motor skills.What toys do babies like most? ›
- Things they can reach for, hold, suck on, shake, make noise with—rattles, large rings, squeeze toys, teething toys, soft dolls, textured balls, and vinyl and board books.
- Things to listen to—books with nursery rhymes and poems, and recordings of lullabies and simple songs.
At 18 months, according to the CDC, developmental red flags may be when a child is not copying others, not gaining new words, and losing any skills they may have once had. For a 2-year-old, look out for an inability to follow simple instructions, walk steadily, or use common items like a spoon.What words should a 18-month-old say? ›
18 month olds should use least 20 words, including different types of words, such as nouns (“baby”, “cookie”), verbs (“eat”, “go”), prepositions (“up”, “down”), adjectives (“hot”, “sleepy”), and social words (“hi”, “bye”).What can a 18-month-old do intellectually? ›
Thinking - Cognitive Development
Scribbles with crayon or pencil. Points to at least one body part. Follows one-step directions without any gestures (sits when you say “sit”). Knows what common objects are for, such as a phone, brush or spoon.
- Ask your child to help you. For example, ask him to put his cup on the table or to bring you his shoe.
- Teach your child simple songs and nursery rhymes. Read to your child. ...
- Encourage your child to talk to friends and family. He can tell them about a new toy.
- Engage your child in pretend play.
Be present in your toddler's life.
Instead take a few moments and address her needs or wants. Take time to play with your toddler every day. Make tents together, color pictures, go on walks, bake together, try these simple toddler activities or whatever your child enjoys doing — do it!
- Nutrition. ...
- Environment. ...
- Maternal-Child Interactions.
Parents and other caregivers can support healthy brain growth by speaking to, playing with, and caring for their child. Children learn best when parents take turns when talking and playing, and build on their child's skills and interests.What is an example of a smart toy? ›
Common examples include smart dolls and companions that speak with children or use facial recognition to recognize them, robotic toys that can be built and programmed by children, and smart speakers that children interact with.What are stimulating toys? ›
Balls. Whether they're bounced, rolled, caught, or thrown, balls encourage gross motor skills, hand–eye coordination, and dexterity. Shape-sorting toys. Pegboard puzzles, nesting cups or blocks, and buckets with holes for different shaped blocks challenge hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills.What toys encourage listening? ›
Some of the available toys you can use include sing-along audiobooks, listening phone sets, and conversation dice cubes. By far, the best way for helping children listen is by setting a good example in the way you interact with them and other adults.What different toys can stimulate development of language? ›
Things like water play, sand play, chalk boards, finger painting and playdough all help children to develop their awareness of different sensations and can be used to talk about actions e.g. pour, squash, squeeze, pull, rub, as well as describing different colours and textures.What increases a babies IQ? ›
Talk to them and read to them.
Playing simple teaching games along the way, for instance asking them to name or count objects, boosts their intelligence even more. "You can raise your child's IQ by six points by simply doing this over a few years when they are young," Roche writes. Start as early as you can, he adds.
- Play. Play is a wonderful way to help a baby or toddler's brain develop. Play might be a game, talking or singing to actively engage your child's brain. ...
- Comfort. Babies can feel stress. ...
- Read. Reading is one of the best ways to promote a child's brain development.
- Consider your child's age and stage of development.
- Consider your child's interests.
- Consider your child's learning style.
- Prioritize quality.
- Make safety a priority.
- Look for toys that encourage exploration and discovery.
- Avoid electronic toys.
The problem with having too many toys
Similar to cluttered pantries or office spaces, which make it hard for adults to focus, having too many toys around the house can make it difficult for children to concentrate, learn, and develop important skills around play.
Kids can only have one box of toys out at a time. If they are done and want a different box, then they need to completely clean up the first. Simple, right?What are the behavior problems of an 18 month old? ›
Toddler development at 18-24 months: what's happening. At this age, toddlers start to experience new emotions like anger and frustration, guilt, shame, possessiveness and excitement. These 'big' emotions can be hard for your toddler to deal with, and you might see some tantrums as a result.How many words should a 18 month say CDC? ›
The CDC is recommending an 18-month-old should be able to say three or more words besides “mama” or “dada.” According to a spokesperson from the CDC, the updated recommendations "reflect what most children (75% or more) would be expected to exhibit by specified ages to better identify potential concerns."When should I start potty training? ›
Many children show signs of being ready for potty training between ages 18 and 24 months. However, others might not be ready until they're 3 years old. There's no rush. If you start too early, it might take longer to train your child.What is the hardest age for toddlers? ›
The term "terrible twos" has long been used to describe the changes that parents often observe in 2-year-old children. A parent may perceive this age as terrible because of the rapid shifts in a child's mood and behaviors — and the difficulty of dealing with them.What toys are not appropriate for toddlers? ›
Avoid marbles, coins, balls, and games with balls that are 1.75 inches (4.4 centimeters) in diameter or less because they can get stuck in the throat above the windpipe and make breathing difficult. Battery-operated toys should have battery cases that secure with screws so that kids cannot pry them open.How long should 18 month old play alone? ›
At 12 months, they can handle about 15 minutes of solo play. At 18 months, they might play alone for 15 to 20 minutes. At 2 years, they should last around 30 minutes.What are the 5 basic toddler needs? ›
Kids must feel safe and sound, with their basic survival needs met: shelter, food, clothing, medical care and protection from harm.What do 1.5 year olds play with? ›
blocks, stacking, and nesting toys. fat crayons or markers. age-appropriate animal or people figures and dolls. toy cars and trains.What are the 7 types of play? ›
The Major Types of Play
The types of play include physical, dramatic, sensory, nature, music and art, and age-appropriate play. Children need the various types of play in order to support and facilitate meaningful learning opportunities as they develop language, motor, social, emotional, and cognitive abilities.
Maria Montessori favored “real” toys made of natural materials like wood because they're healthy, safe, and inspiring for children. They're also beautiful and durable; some of the earliest toys ever discovered were made of wood.Why don t Montessori toys have color? ›
Montessori at home doesn't restrict color; it reminds us not to restrict natural beauty. It is more often the case that color is used to overstimulate and distract the child. Our world is beautiful, and we don't actually need to buy so much extra stuff in order to inspire our children.Why is Montessori toys so expensive? ›
There are many honest toymakers who craft Montessori-aligned toys and they also charge quite a bit for their products. The reason for the price of their toys is simply that they are not mass-produced.What toys make baby smile? ›
Toys that are bright and colorful or feature interesting sounds will help capture your child's attention long enough to elicit a smile. Try using rattles, balls, blocks, dolls, or trucks as props in your photos.What toys help with cognitive development? ›
Building and construction toys, such as blocks and sets of connecting pieces, promote cognitive development. They are considered “open-ended” toys, which means that children can use the toys to create structures or designs in many different ways.What toys can help a child's development? ›
You can try:
Shape sorters and containers to put in and take out objects. Cause-and-effect toys. Board books. Musical instruments (keyboard, xylophone, drums, tambourine) give great multisensory feedback, encourage engagement with others, singing and hand use.
Toddlers usually walk on their own by 18 months and begin to run. Your toddler will probably walk up and down stairs or climb furniture with your help. Throwing and kicking a ball, scribbling with pencils or crayons, and building small towers of blocks might be some of your toddler's favourite things.Which of the following is a developmental milestone of a 18 24 month old? ›
Your 18 to 24 month old is likely to interact more with their world by handing things to others to play, pretending to feed a doll, pointing to interesting things and exploring alone but with a parent or caregiver nearby. At this age, your child starts to feel more emotions like anger, shame and excitement.What should a 24 month old be doing developmentally? ›
Your 24-month-old baby is becoming more coordinated and better able to communicate. You might notice that they can now turn pages on their own, scribble on a piece of paper and jump up and down. Your 24-month-old may now be able to identify different body parts and understand most two-step directions.What gross motor abilities does the toddler 18 24 months have? ›
- squat during play.
- throw ball forward.
- try to catch a ball with arms and body.
- jumps with galloping motion.
- use legs to propel non-motorized, ride-on toys.
- walk up and down stairs when one hand being held by an adult.
Months Is not gazing at objects; does not tune out repetitive sounds; does not move eyes to follow sound Does not respond to loud sounds Does not coo or make sounds When lying on back: keeps hands fisted and lacks arm movements; is not bringing hands to mouth; lacks symmetrical arm movements; does not turn head to ...How many words should a 18month old say? ›
Important Language Milestones
18 month olds should use least 20 words, including different types of words, such as nouns (“baby”, “cookie”), verbs (“eat”, “go”), prepositions (“up”, “down”), adjectives (“hot”, “sleepy”), and social words (“hi”, “bye”).
2T: What's The Difference? Clothes that are labeled 24 months are made for those who are anywhere from 18 to 24 months. By comparison, 2T clothing is made for toddlers, generally anywhere from 2 to almost 3 years old.What is a speech milestone for a 24 month old? ›
- Use simple phrases, such as "more milk."
- Ask one- to two-word questions, such as "Go bye-bye?"
- Follow simple commands and understand simple questions.
- Speak about 50 or more words.
- Speak well enough so that you or another caregiver can understand at least half the time.
Your 18-month-old toddler is now walking and using basic words. At this age, children love to play and explore. They begin to show some independence and may play pretend and point at objects they want. They also begin to understand what things in the house are used for, such as a cup or spoon.How can I tell if my 2 year old is advanced? ›
With that said, there are some notable signs of a gifted child: Your curious cutie is hitting speech milestones early, has a large vocabulary for her age, and is a quick learner who remembers most of what she sees and hears.How can I help my 18 month old develop? ›
- Encourage activities that improve hand and finger skills. Around this time, your little one may pick up small objects and move them around with control. ...
- Play with your toddler. ...
- Take your child on outings. ...
- Get ready for potty training. ...
- Make up a story.
- Born with his/her "eyes wide open"
- Preferred to be awake rather than asleep.
- Noticed his/her surroundings all the time.
- Grasped the "bigger picture" of things.
- Counted objects without using his/her fingers to point to them.
Using only one hand to complete tasks • Not being able to move/open one hand/arm • Drooling during small tasks that require intense concentration • Displaying uncoordinated or jerky movements when doing activities • Crayon strokes are either too heavy or too light to see • Any know medical diagnosis can be considered a ...What is a fine motor skill for a 18 month old? ›
Between the ages of 12-18 months, your child will:
Point to pictures in books. Build a tower using 2 blocks. Use their hands together to hold a toy at the middle of their body. Scribble with a crayon.
The naming of 2 body parts is normal for an 18 month old. Between 18 and 30 months the toddler should learn to identify 6 out of 8 body parts. Conjugate eye movements and the near reflex can be tested with an interesting object like a finger puppet. Facial movement is noted as the toddler smiles.