How do you keep your toddler occupied when you’re stuck indoors? Here are my favorite indoor activities for 18 month olds.
Summer has officially arrived here in Texas, and with temps hitting 100 degrees multiple days a week we’ve been spending more time indoors. While I love the idea of an idyllic summer spent outdoors, it’s just TOO HOT to be out there all the time.
But with four kids ages eight and under, we need to stay occupied in some way or another before everyone drives everyone else crazy!
In today’s post I’m going to share some ideas for indoor activities for 18 month olds (my youngest’s current age) or basically for any toddler aged child. In a subsequent post I’ll share more ideas for indoor activities for elementary aged kids.
Indoor Activity Ideas for 18 Month Olds and Young Toddlers
First, I have to say that 18 month olds are just the cutest! They’re learning so much every day, saying their first words (or for some their first sentences), and working on all sorts of new skills like climbing and running and jumping.
Two year olds – also in the toddler stage – are equally amazing. Don’t believe anyone who talks about terrible twos. Little toddler-age people are the best!
But, young toddlers are active. And constantly exploring and testing limits. So how can you keep them occupied when you’re stuck indoors?
Below are some of my favorite indoor activities for 18 month olds. The next time you’re stuck indoors due to hot weather or a rainy day, give some of these fun activities a try with your toddler!
Sally Clarkson, author, podcaster, and one of my favorite veteran moms to listen to always recommends “water in many different forms” as one of the best activities to keep little ones happily occupied and I agree. For indoor water play we love . . .
- Play time in the tub is a great way to keep 18 month old toddlers happy. We love little stackable cups for in the tub!
- Sink play – add some small toys and it’s sort of like an indoor water table!
- Transferring ice cubes from bowl to bowl is a great activity that can be so much fun for little kids, even though it’s a super simple activity.
- Water-wow books have always been favorites in our home and they’re great for multiple ages.
I’m not much of a crafter myself, and the thought of doing actual crafts with my 18 month old makes me chuckle a little bit. However, I do think there are some things that qualify as “crafts” that are age appropriate, even for your littlest toddler.
- Finger painting – a good option if you don’t mind a contained mess.
- Edible play dough – Honestly, we haven’t tried this yet. But my child tries to eat regular play dough, so edible might be something worth trying. I also love this recipe for regular play dough – a good option for older toddlers who aren’t as inclined to try to eat it.
- Coloring with crayons on an extra large piece of paper or a cardboard box.
- Gluing poms-poms or cotton balls onto a sheet of construction paper (with supervision of course!) A glue stick will be less messy than Elmer’s glue.
Baby obstacle course
Show your toddler how they can crawl under a table, over couch pillows, through a fun tunnel or a simple tent, etc. If your child has older siblings they’ll likely want to lead the way!
We haven’t done much of this in our home, but I know that a lot of people are big fans of sensory bins or sensory bags for their toddlers. Sensory bins can be a great way for little kiddos to practice their fine motor skills.
Just google “sensory play ideas” and you’ll find all sorts of suggestions for little bins you can make and other sensory activities that are perfect for little hands.
All sorts of simple household items can also make fun play things and be used for simple activities: a wooden spoon, a cookie sheet and shaving cream, pipe cleaners, pom poms, toilet paper rolls, masking tape, bubble wrap, and lots more things with different textures that you can use in different ways for fun learning activities.
Fun with child’s favorite toys
- Cars – Just sitting and lining up cars with your toddler can be a lot of fun. A basic, durable car track (like this Little People track) can also be a lot of fun. Just be careful if your child has a tendency to try to climb on top of it like mine does, pictured below. Ha!
- Blocks – My little guy likes both Megablocks and Duplos as well as classic wooden blocks.
- Montessori toys – ball shoot, simple puzzle, rings, etc.
- Fridge magnets – We have these ones from Melissa and Doug.
- Little People, dolls, stuffed animals, etc. for pretend play.
Turn on some fun music (the Encanto soundtrack is a favorite over here) and dance with your child. The big kids will probably want to join in too!
Musical instruments for kids are also a fun way to help develop your toddlers taste for music and their sense of rhythm.
18 month olds are a great age for looking at board books on their own or sitting on your lap for story time. I’ve included some of our favorite board books that my son loves below.
Help your child with their hand-eye coordination by practicing throwing and catching a ball (we have a big cloth soccer ball that we love) or rolling it back and forth.
A ball pit is another fun option!
Quiet time is a great indoor activity for any age in my opinion haha! Whether it’s an actual nap (which is still important for 18 month olds) or just a time of independent play, quiet time is a great “activity” to include in your day.
You may also be interested in: Why and How to Have Daily Quiet Time for Kids
Baby exercise time
Let your toddler practice their gross motor skills by giving them a safe way to get in some climbing and jumping practice. My 18 month old loves climbing up on something, holding my hands while we count to three together, and then attempting to jump off. It’s the cutest thing ever.
Super simple games of hide and seek or “tag” can be a lot of fun with a toddler as well. I know my son loves to be chased and gets all sorts of energy out that way!
Video chat with family/friends
Sometimes when my kids are a little grumpy and we’re waiting for Pablo to get home for dinner we’ll take that time to video call with someone. It perks the kids (and me) up to get to say hi to someone and it helps that annoyingly long time before dinner to go by a little faster.
So, what different activities would you add to this list of indoor toddler activity ideas? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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