The Best Learning Toys for 18 Month Olds
At 18 months, you sure see a ton of growth in your child! Physically they grow before your eyes and cognitively their brains are quickly taking in the world around them! So, you may be wondering, “What are the best learning toys for my 18 month old?”
No worries! We have you covered. Your 18 month old is working on a variety of skills that can be improved by the toys you put in front of them.
If you’ve read our blog before, you know we advocate for a minimalist approach when it comes to toys. We truly believe that less is always more.
So, just because your child is working on a large number of skills, they do not need a large number of toys!
Keep reading to learn about our recommendations and how important it is for your child to work toward their growing milestones!
Where your baby is at developmentally at 18 months
At 18 months, your child is reaching many milestones! They are starting to understand the world around them! You may notice your little one paying attention to the tasks and activities around them. Now, when they look at a book they start to process what’s on the page!
Touch is huge at 18 months! You’ll notice your child is extra curious and may be extra aggressive as a result! Touching everything and anything to try and understand their environment is normal and actually should be encouraged!
Now that your child is starting to understand their surroundings, they can start to mimic what they see. This might include pretending to feed their baby doll or brushing their teeth. They are now beginning to understand the idea of pretend play!
Routines are also a concept that they come to expect! They start to form a sense of time where they, for example, know a nap is coming after their afternoon feeding.
On top of everything, your child is able to start to sort objects, understand object permanence, and show recognition of words!
There’s even more that could be talked about, but this is a solid foundation for where your child could be developmentally at 18 months!
What skills can be worked on
As you’ve read, your child has a lot going on at this age! It’s important to encourage your child in their development, whether that be through toys, direct intervention, or by simply providing an environment that will foster their ability to grow!
So, here are some skills that your child is working on…
- Word recognition
- Using utensils
- Using objects as intended (turning a page, coloring with a crayon, etc…)
- Single word commands
- Expressing emotions more clearly
Much like the developments going on, there are more skills that could be listed! But these provide a great summary of what your child is capable of by 18 months! We do want to mention that every baby, toddler and child is different so everyone reaches milestones at their own pace. So don’t worry if your toddler can’t quite hold a utensil yet or isn’t able to say some words.
If you do have concerns about your littles one’s development, please consult their doctor.
Toys your baby will love
So, now that you’ve read about all the amazing things your child is capable of, let’s talk about toys!
Toys are a great tool when used appropriately! Your child already has so much going on; sometimes too many toys can overstimulate them and work against their development! Curious about this topic? Read all about it in our blog about why less is more!
But we do know toys are important! We’re a toy company after all.
We could not recommend a shape sorter enough at 18 months! Your child is starting to understand words, colors, and shapes in addition to starting to learn how to sort! When playing with this toy, you can encourage sorting, problem solving, and word learning! Read more about it here!
Puzzles are also a great option! Puzzles, similar to shape sorters, help your child work on problem solving, understanding shapes, and their fine motor skills. Puzzles often utilize shapes, colors, and familiar animals to not only keep your child’s attention, but to help strengthen your child’s pre-existing knowledge of these topics!
Toys that are stackable are also a great option for your 18 month old! Stacking allows your child to work on their fine motor skills by having to carefully lay one toy on top of another. They learn to be gentle and the importance of being careful as to not cause their tower to crash down (unless that’s what they want!).
Also, when stacking, you can often incorporate patterns! By having your child sort and stack the toys by color/size/texture, they are introduced to the idea of what a pattern is and utilize their skill of sorting all at once!
Talking through your routine is a toy-less activity that helps your child further solidify the idea of time! As you go through your day, narrate what you do as you go. It will help your child stay engaged with what you’re doing and they will start to understand their daily routine!
Simply saying words and asking them to repeat it after you is a great activity at 18 months! Short words will be most successful and will also help your child express themselves. Words such as “no” “more” “yes” “dad” “mom” “milk” are great examples of words to have your child repeat!
Also consider playing a fun game of “where did it go?”. At this time, your child is starting to understand that objects don’t disappear even if they can’t see them. By hiding items such as their bottle or favorite stuffed animal in an easy to find spot, your child can work on finding items and the concept of object permanence!
How you can help teach your child
Whether you’re engaging in free play or structured play, having a positive attitude can make all the difference!
At this age, your child is learning to understand and express their emotions! Instead of scolding or yelling at your child, validate their feelings by saying phrases such as, “I understand you are feeling sad and that’s okay!” and “Anger is a very strong emotion. What happened to make you feel this way?”. Don’t dismiss their emotion; instead, help them process how they’re feeling and get to the root of their emotion!
Providing your child with toys and a safe environment are extremely helpful tools in assisting your child’s development! If you’re unable to buy toys, that’s okay! Children learn from their surroundings whether or not a puzzle is in front of them.
By keeping a safe space for your child, they are able to try new things. By being there to encourage them, they will feel supported and more likely to try out new things knowing you’re there to help them if anything goes wrong.
We know how hard it is to be a parent. As long as you’re trying and your priority is to help your child as much as possible, give yourself a hug and know you’re doing everything you can!
We hope this has helped give you a solid understanding of what your child needs at 18 months and the best activities and toys you can provide for them! Your child is learning everyday! With so much change happening, your child is constantly absorbing new information and processing it with the information they already have.
By offering encouragement and important resources, you help your child take in this new information easily and with less confusion!
So, let us know if you try out any of these suggestions with your 18 month old! Feel free to share any successes or disappointments with one another!