12-18 Months

12-18 Months: Outdoor

12-18 months: Outdoor and Travel


As your child begins to walk, you can start of the most treasured toddler activities: the daily walk.  This is a slow activity full of exploration, observation, repetition, and joy.  

Outside time also builds gross motor skills, especially with ride-on toys, simple games, or helping with chores.  Make sure you get good shoes (see below) so your child learns to walk correctly.  

And when traveling, don't forget fun actvities like vocabulary cards or sing-along music! 

This page contains affiliate links.  We only link to items we love and would recommend. By clicking on the link, you are offered the same (or lower) price, and a small percentage of any purchase you make goes to us at TPE. We use these funds to help offset our costs and provide more value to you. Thanks in advance! 

Outdoor Materials for 12-18 months

Wheely Bug

A ride-on toy like this Wheely Bug from Prince Lionheart is perfect for 12 to 18 month olds who are just learning the idea of pushing with their legs.   It's almost impossible for a child to tip this over, and the wheels allow it to move in all directions quite easily.  I'm partial to the mouse, but there are several other designs to choose from.

Watering Can

Playing with water is a favorite activity for most young children, and a watering can like this encourages purposeful help!  I suggest introducing a watering can outside so your child can practice dumping as much water as she likes without drowning your potted plants.  

Shoes for Walking

As your child is coordinating her body to walk quickly and efficiently at this age, good shoes are of utmost importance.   No boots. No flip-flops.  No heels (yes, I have to say that sadly).  Your child's feet and legs must move in a natural fashion, and that requires a sneaker, sandal with an ankle strap, or bare feet. 

Look for velcro or elastic closures that your child can do on her own, and a sturdy but flexible sole.  These would also be a good choice.  

Digging Shovel

I love this shovel for toddlers.  It's  thick plastic handle and scoop hold up well to repeated use and the curved design helps dig deeper and more gracefully without added force.  

Vocabulary Cards on a Ring

A set of picture cards is great for practicing familiar words, and keeping them on a ring like this allows for easy travel.  These aren't as nice as the ones from So Awesome (so sad to see them go), but have many similar features.  The simple pictures are clear, the words and objects are familiar to many toddlers, and the tapered top makes flipping easy. 


12-18 Months: Bed and Bath

12-18 months: Bed and Bath

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With newly acquired skills like standing and walking comes great opportunity for independence.  The tools listed below allow your child to do many things on her own that would otherwise be challenging in an adult-sized home.  

Be sure you also offer opportunities to practice care-of-self activities like combing hair, washing hands and face, and brushing teeth.  You'll still need to help meet the goal of these activities, but as your child gains practice, she'll eventually be able to meet these goals herself.  

This is also the time to offer emotional and intellectual independence through limited, real choices.  Read more about independence and toddlers here. 

This page contains affiliate links.  We only link to items we love and would recommend. By clicking on the link, you are offered the same (or lower) price, and a small percentage of any purchase you make goes to us at TPE. We use these funds to help offset our costs and provide more value to you. Thanks in advance! 

Self-Care Materials for 12-18 months

Light switch extender

Light Switch Extender

This clever piece of plastic allows your child to turn on or off any light switch by herself.  Use this one if you have the wider rocker switches in your home.  

Faucet Extender

Again, another piece of clever plastic that encourages independence! The gray end is made of silicone and fits over the spigot of your sink, allowing the stream of water to extend a few inches closer to the edge of the sink.  This is a must for any small child! 

Hairbrush and Comb

Care of self is the very foundation for all practical life activities, and necessary for building functional independent skills.  This lovely set offers three tools for various hair types (or no hair at all!).   

image from  IKEA

image from IKEA

Step Stool

This is my favorite two-step stool for young children.  If you have a slippery floor, you could always glue some non-skid rubber to the bottom, or you may want a step stool like this one.  I'd also add some non-skid tape to the steps for extra traction.  

Small Bathroom Mirror

Most 12-18 month olds are not tall enough to see in the bathroom mirror, even with a step stool.  Solve this with a small unbreakable mirror like this one attached to the bathroom wall or vanity.  


12-18 Months: Play

12-18 months: Play and Toys

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At this age, your child's brain is absorbing on a literal, surface level and is looking for connections, cause and effect, and deep sensory information to attach to words.   There is no need for toddlers to have electronic toys, as these will directly get in the way of this brain development.  Toys for this age must be sturdy, simple, and realistic.  Look for play items that aren't too visually busy or overly complicated.  

Keep a small number of play items available at once (about 5-10 max)  where your child can easily see everything and put things back.  

Safety: Play objects for 12-18 months must be checked for small pieces and loose parts that could get swallowed.  Toys for this age should hold up to rigorous throwing, dropping, crushing, banging, and pulling, and be made from sturdy materials like thick cardboard, wood, plastic, or metal. 

Playing together: Help your toddler explore the world in a safe, independent way.  Provide simple demonstrations of what to do in a situation and how to do it.  Be mindful of over-helping or over-suggesting how to use something. This stunts creativity and problem solving

This page contains affiliate links.  We only link to items we love and would recommend. By clicking on the link, you are offered the same (or lower) price, and a small percentage of any purchase you make goes to us at TPE. We use these funds to help offset our costs and provide more value to you. Thanks in advance! 

Play Materials for 12-18 months

Stacking and Nesting

These cheerful wood bowls from Grimm's Toys are perfect for stacking or nesting, two favourite activities at this age.  Plus, these wood bowls can double as storage when your child outgrows them.  Start with 2-3 bowls of very different sizes like red-yellow-blue or orange-green.  As your child gets better at stacking or nesting, you can include all five.  

Other excellent stacking and nesting toys include: 

The First Years Stack Up Cups

Green Toys My First Stacker

Hammer Pounding Toy

This toy offers an appropriate way to practice pounding or smashing toys together.  This pounder toy from Hape also allows your child to see exactly how far the colored pegs go when she hits them, and can be flipped over to repeat.  No balls to loose around the house!  

Honey Sticks Beeswax Crayons

 These crayons are 100% beeswax, non-toxic, and too large to choke on or break easily.  They smell faintly of beeswax and honey, which I think is just lovely.  These chubby crayons are perfect for 12-24 month olds who are just learning to hold objects and intentionally make lines and designs on paper.  

Shape Sorter

This is my favorite version of this popular toy, because of the simplicity and sturdiness of this design.  Just three very different shapes are used here, and three very different colors.  The lid of this wood box is easy for 12 month old hands to lift up and replace.  This shape sorter doubles as an object permanence toy, as the shapes seem to disappear into the box when sorted correctly.  

Giant Ball

I've found these large exercise balls to be endless fun with young toddlers!  The ball is so big, it's easy to children to "catch" when rolled to them, it's light enough to be picked up and thrown, and, they can push, jump, and bounce into it.  This exercise ball features thick rubber walls that slow-deflate when punctured and it's easy to clean.  

image from  Heirloom Kids USA

Chunky Shape Sorting Puzzle

This simple chunky puzzle offers an introduction to sorting by shape and matching.  Knobbed pieces are a bit too difficult for most children this age, so look for a first puzzle with large, thick pieces of wood and less than 5 pieces.  Introduce this puzzle with just ONE shape and the board, adding the other two later.  This is handmade from Heirloom Kids USA

Ramp Racer

Every Montessori mom blog lists this car ramp racer from EverEarth, and for good reason.  It's a simplistic, compact design that's mesmerizing for young toddlers.  I particularly like the stop block at the end, so cars don't race across the room.  This toy encourages repetition with very little reset time, and is totally child-powered.  

image from  Amy Baby Toys

image from Amy Baby Toys


Beanbags are one of my go-to play items for young toddlers, so many possibilities!  Make a throwing game, stack them high, then knock them down, or balance one on your head.  These triangular beanbag blocks from Amy Baby Toys are perfect for smaller hands to grab, stack, or throw, and they come with a handy fabric bag for storage.  Note that these are filled with small plastic beads, and should not be used with children younger than 12 months for safety reasons. 


12-18 Months: Kitchen and Eating

12-18 months: kitchen and eating

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Around this age your child is most interested in helping and mimicking the activities she sees the adults doing in her home.  Take advantage of this interest by offering simple tools for independent activity like these below.  

In the kitchen, your 12-18 month old can help scrub hard fruits and vegetables with a stiff brush, mash bananas, tear lettuce, put boxes back in the pantry, and practice scooping rice or flour.  

She can work on skills like drinking from a real glass, using a spoon or fork, asking for more please, and climbing in and out of a highchair. 

This page contains affiliate links.  We only link to items we love and would recommend. By clicking on the link, you are offered the same (or lower) price, and a small percentage of any purchase you make goes to us at TPE. We use these funds to help offset our costs and provide more value to you. Thanks in advance! 

Kitchen Materials for 12-18 months

image from  For Small Hands .

image from For Small Hands.

My First Glass

Learning to drink from a real glass is a welcome challenge to the 12-18 month old.  Introduce the idea with tiny glasses like these from For Small Hands.  These are made of thick glass and hold just a few mouthfuls of liquid to make misses easier to clean-up.   I've also used these shot glasses from IKEA as a first glass in my toddler classes with success.

Scrub Brush

A short scrub brush like this one is perfect for small hands.  The palmer grasp on this handle (whole hand) helps build your child's hand strength and coordination, and can be used for the various other activities as she gets older.  I like the soft-yet-stiff bristles on this brush to remove dirt without scratching skin.  

Mixing Bowl

 A large metal mixing bowl is a must for this age.  I use a bowl like this for washing, scooping, and mixing activities with toddlers.  It's unbreakable, has a pleasant sound, and is light enough to be carried by a child.  You can substitute a plastic wash bin if you like.   

Tripp Trapp Highchair

For family meals, a highchair like this one is most convenient.  This  design from Tripp Trapp is one I recommend all the time for it's durability, independence, and long-term use.  The seat and foot shelves are fully adjustable, and allows your child to climb up herself.  Plus, the 5-point harness straps close in the front, so your child can learn to buckle herself in by herself.  

image from  For Small Hands .

image from For Small Hands.

Mini Masher

This little masher from For Small Hands is made from one piece of metal, which makes it less likely to break or bend.  It's a perfect size for toddlers to practice the hand movements involved in mashing (a larger tool would teach incorrect grip and build poor technique).  

Divided Bowls with Lids

Many children this age eat like tiny birds, just a handful of food at a time.  I find it really useful to pre-portion finger foods, yogurt, or snacks into divided plates like these and then snap the lid on whatever wasn't finished at meal time.  


12-18 Months: About this Age

Twelve to Eighteen Months

I can help.

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A 12 to 18 month old is experiencing a huge leap in mobility as she is able to stand, walk, and free her hands for exploring! Remember, new skills do not emerge in a steady line.  Just because your child did it once doesn't mean she can do it again on command.  

Children this age express thoughts and emotions without a filter, and live in the moment.  A child this age can only see the world through her eyes, asking her to “share” or “be a good girl” is meaningless.  

This child is also experiencing a leap in understanding language and speaking.  Your child is watching your every move, word, and response, and using them as a model for how to act.

Learning how to solve small everyday problems on her own is essential at this stage, and she’ll devote deep concentration in order to learn.   She can’t predict or make judgments about her actions, even if she understands all the steps and has experienced the effects before. 

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