Does being stuck inside all day long with your 18 month old give you anxiety? I remember when my daughter when through the phase of taking out a bin of toys, dumping it, then moving on to the next bin.
Sometimes we need simple activities to keep our toddlers from destroying the house.
So, whether it’s a rainy day, the cold winter months or or you simply can’t do any outdoor activities today, I hope this list of simple activities is helpful!
What activities should I be doing with my 18 month old?
There are many ways that you can involve your 18 month old in your activities throughout the day (such as cooking and cleaning). Singing, reading, counting and reciting the ABCs are also things that you can easily incorporate into your daily routine.
What should I be teaching my 18 month old?
My favorite approach is to incorporate “teaching” into the everyday moments. Count the stairs as you are going up. Sing the ABCs as you are brushing your toddler’s teeth. Talk about what you see when you’re in the car, taking a walk, running errands, etc.
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Indoor Activities For An 18 Month Old
1. Have Your Child “Help” You
Toddlers at this age LOVE to be helpful (and believe me, it doesn’t last forever so soak it up while it lasts!)
If you are cleaning, letting your toddler help is a great way to keep him from destroying the house. He can:
- wash the floors, the cabinets, the table, etc with a rag and bucket of water.
- put the dirty laundry into the washer
- take the groceries out of their bags
- water the plants
- dust with a dry rag
Reading is one of the most beneficial activities that you can do with your toddler and is so important in the development of language skills.
Make sure to keep books easily accessible in all areas of the house that your toddler frequents. Reading doesn’t only have to occur at night!
And if your toddler asks to read his favorite book AGAIN?! Just do it! I know that reading Goodnight Moon AGAIN is torture for us but so beneficial for them.
Check out my favorite 2-year old stories. There’s much more out there than nursery rhymes!
3. Do Puzzles
5. Play With Stickers
I find that reusable sticker books are best for the toddler stage.
6. Build A Fort
You can pillows, cushions and chairs to build a fort that your child will hopefully play in for longer than it took you to assemble it.
We can hope, right?
7. Play “Find The Object”
Ask your child to find random things around the house (and then put them back, of course!)
Some ideas would be:
- find something red
- find two small toys
- find a farm animal
- find a car
- find a doll
- find different shapes
This is a great activity for when you are tired or sick and need to just sit on the couch for a while.
8. Bring Outdoor Toys Indoors
If you have the space, bring your toddler’s larger outdoor toys (not a full sized play set of course but the smaller larger things) inside for more energy-burning opportunities.
9. Play Board Games
Start teaching your toddler how to work cooperatively and take turns with these fun game ideas.
10. Play Hide And Go Seek
Hide and seek is a great game for an 18 month old going through separation anxiety. It will help him learn that just because you are out of view does not mean you are gone!
If you’re not feeling the traditional game, I like to do this with objects (so that I don’t have to hide or seek).
Simply hide household objects around a room and have your toddler find them.
If he’s struggling, you can add in some hold/cold action.
11. Take A Blanket Ride
This is SO helpful if your toddler isn’t wanting to do something (go to bed, take a bath, etc). Which probably happens all the time, right?
Take him there on a blanket ride. It will work every time I promise. Distraction is KEY.
12. Play With A Baby Doll
This is a great pretend play activity for both boys and girls and is perfect if you have a baby or are expecting. Make it a part of your day!
If you are showering, your toddler could bathe the baby. If you are preparing food, your toddler could feed the baby doll. It’s also a great sleep cue! “Okay, it’s almost time for your nap! Why don’t you put your baby doll down for her nap?”
13. Play In The Dark
Arm your child with a flashlight and go to a dark room. He will probably simply have fun exploring.
14. Roughhouse On The Bed
The good thing about this activity is that you get to lay down. And that you and your child will have a TON of fun.
The bad news? Nothing.
15. Paint The Windows With Shaving Cream
As long as your 18 month old doesn’t put everything in his mouth, this is a great one. Bonus: when he’s done, you can clean it off the window and CLEAN the window at the same time.
I know you have toddler hand prints all over your windows.
16. Play With A Ball
Get those gross motor skills working by throwing, catching, rolling and chasing after a ball.
17. Practice Throwing
Set up a laundry basket on the ground and have your child practice throwing a ball or bean bag into it.
18. Play Red Light, Green Light
This is such a classic, but it’s so good and doesn’t require a lot of energy from you.
19. Play With A Cardboard Box
Keep any bigger cardboard boxes that you get and your toddler will have a ball playing with them. He can hide in it, climb on top of it, ride in it and have fun using his imagination to come up with endless ideas.
This list of fine motor activities is fun and also develops essential cognitive skills.
20. Stack Empty Tupperware Containers
Toddlers love to stack items and knock them down and it absolutely helps develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Tupperware is probably something that you have a lot of, so this is the perfect activity for your 18 month old when you are in the kitchen.
I’m sure you have child-proofed your kitchen cabinets, but if you have the space, leave one open and accessible to your toddler.
You can put the Tupperware in this cabinet, and your child can access it at anytime!
You can also include a wooden spoon and now your Tupperware become musical instruments.
21. Work On Potty Training
It might sound early, but pay attention to your child’s cues. Both of my children started to show potty training readiness around 18 months old.
According to a study referenced in the Jornel de Pediatria, in 1947 60% of children were potty trained by 18 months of age. That percentage is much lower now.
Some signs of potty training readiness are:
- pulling at a wet or dirty diaper
- hiding to pee or poop
- showing interest in others using the bathroom
If your 18 month old is showing any of these readiness signs, it won’t hurt to start working toward potty training.
You can see more information on how I potty trained both of my children before age 2. (And I did it SUPER simply, don’t worry. It won’t be like having another full-time job).
22. Play With Pom Poms
Give your child a whole bunch of pom poms. You can have him transfer them from one container to another.
This will help fine-tune your toddler’s pincer grip, which is such an essential fine-motor skill.
You could also have him sort the pom poms by different colors, numbers, sizes, etc. The possibilities are endless!
**You can do the same with cotton balls if you don’t have pom poms.
23. Take The Month Long Physical Activity Challenge
Develop your toddler’s physical skills through daily challenges.
For example, time your child and see how long it takes him to:
- balance on one foot
- complete a stuffed animal relay race
- throw a ball into the laundry hamper
Then, see if your child can beat his time! This activity comes with 30 printable badges to give to your child once he has succeeded.
24. Play Laser Chase
Take a laser and shine it around the floor. Your child will love to catch it. Seriously. Not. Kidding. Is it something you do with a cat? Yes. But sometimes our toddlers act like animals, so…
Does your toddler have WAY too much energy? Check out more high energy toddler activities.
25. Wipes Box Lid Sorting
Does that title make sense? I don’t think so.
Take an empty baby wipes box and a bunch of lids that you’re no longer using and have your 18 year old place them in the wipes box and take them out.
And place them in and take them out. Hopefully for a long time.
26. Get A Mini Trampoline
A mini trampoline is such a great purchase (it’s pretty inexpensive) and it will entertain your child for years to come.
27. Go Bowling
Set your toddler up with plastic balls and a bunch of empty soda bottles and teach him how to bowl.
28. Create An Obstacle Course
Use whatever you can find around the house that your toddler can climb over, crawl through, run around, balance on, etc.
You can use:
- laundry baskets
- a 2×4
- hula hoops
29. Create A Jumping Course
Place things on the floor for your child to jump over:
- plastic bowls turned upside down
Don’t be afraid to give your toddler control over the activity! Have him set up the course himself.
30. Do Gymnastics
You can practice simple skills like:
- wheelbarrow walks
- handstands with his feet on the couch
- jumping over small items
- balancing (put a line of painter’s tape on the floor and have your child walk it)
31. Learn About Science
Put baking soda onto a cookie sheet or a plate. Give your child cups of colored vinegar and a medicine dropper.
He will love to see the chemical reaction that happens again and again as he drops the vinegar onto the baking soda.
32. Practice Letter Recognition
Make learning letters fun. You can:
- Play Climb the Mountain- Place alphabet flashcards on the steps, shout out a letter and have your child climb the mountain to find it
- Play Squirt the Letter- Write letters on a chalk board or dry erase board, shout out a letter and have your toddler squirt it with a water bottle
Check out more of my fun ABC activities.
33. Pretend To Be Different Animals
Give your toddler different animal prompts, such as:
- meow like a cat
- quack like a duck
- jump like a kangaroo
- run like a cheetah
- hop like a frog
34. Have An Object Relay
This activity can be used to learn new words or concepts or just for fun.
Put something (animal figurines, colors, numbers, etc) on one end of the room and sit on the other.
Then call out names of the items and have your child run over to grab the item and bring it back to you.
35. Play Simon Says
Play songs that require movement such as:
- Baby Shark (if you can stand it!)
- The Hokey Pokey
- Head, Shoulders, Knees And Toes
37. Count Everything
Count anything and everything you can throughout the day:
- the stairs as you’re climbing them
- goldfish before your child eats them
- cars that go by as you’re watching out the window
Arts And Crafts
Sensory play ideas are always a good idea.
38. Finger Paint
Finger painting is a fun activity that can be done with what you have around the house. Use some food coloring and some whipped cream for an edible finger painting option.
You can even put dollops of paint inside a ziplock bag and have your toddler squeeze the bag in order to combine the colors.
39. Play With Play Doh
There are so many options with Play Doh. You can:
- hide objects in the Play Doh
- have your child make a road for his cars out of Play Doh
- make shapes out of it
- stamp letters into it using magnetic letters
- make indents in it with household objects
- create an animal environment complete with hills, streams, lakes, etc.
40. Play With Ice Cubes
Your toddler will love playing with ice cubes (and eating them, too). Simply put some ice cubes into a container of water.
If your really ambitious, you can freeze small toys in the ice cubes and have your toddler melt them with warm water.
41. Create A Sensory Bin
Dump a bunch of dry rice into a container and allow your child to play with it.
I love hiding a bunch of small toys in it and asking my child to try to find it.
42. Stomp On Bubble Wrap
I’m sure you’ve got a few Amazon boxes on the porch!
43. Play In A Sandbox Or With Kinetic Sand
Water play are some of toddlers favorite sensory activities. You don’t need to go outside in order to have fun with water!
44. A Pouring Water Station
This will likely be the most engaging activity you do with your 19 month old all day.
Fill up a plastic storage bin with water and give your child plastic pitchers, measuring cups and drinking cups. Have your child pour from one container to another.
45. Extend Bath Time
If your toddler is enjoying his time in the bath, let him stay in there until the water gets too chilly. Have two baths in one day if you need to!
46. Wash The Dishes
Set your toddler up with a stool or learning tower at the sink with slow running water and a little soap to make some bubbles. Add in containers, plastic cups, bowls, spoons, strainers, ladles, etc.
I hope you found some different things to add to your daily routine with this list of indoor toddler activities!