outside

18-24 Months: Outdoor

18-24 months: Outdoor and Travel

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The great outdoors has much to offer the 18-24 month old.  Start with a daily walk at your child's pace, and bring your explorer's kit.  There's always something new, if you look close enough! 

Time outside encourages movement, listening, observation, a love of nature, and a deep sense of place.  And best of all, it requires minimal planning and set-up! 

If you have a yard or small balcony, you can keep a few outdoor activities (like these below) available for your child. 

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 18-24 months

Child-sized Backpack 

A child sized backpack with pockets for treasures is a must for daily walks.  This one is from Herschel and at 10 inches square, it should fit many 18-24 month olds. The magnetic closures and one zippered pouch are manageable skills to master  but any smaller backpack with a zipper, Velcro, or fold over flap would work for this age.  I recommend a smaller pocket on the back or side, and a pocket for a water bottle is always welcome.

The Wild City Book

Think you can't find nature if you live in the city? This book is full of ideas for fun, exploration, and discovery of the great outdoors in the concrete jungle.   This is a great book to spark your creativity for nature inspired art, learning, and adventures.   

Chalk

Chalk is another winner for 18-24 month olds.  This triangular chalk encourages a tripod pencil grip AND it won't roll away.  I stick with 2-3 pieces of chalk at this age, any more and your child will just spend her time switching chalk instead of drawing.  

Sand box

A sand-box offers open-ended play that can keep toddlers interested for hours.   This box is my favourite as the lid folds up to make two sturdy benches and completely closes (no surprise visitors!).  Or, take the DIY route and fill a small tent with sand

Garden Tool Set

This three piece garden hand tool set is perfectly sized for small hands, AND they actually work.  I'd probably bought 7 sets myself for my classrooms and young friends I've worked with.  Start with the green rectangular trowel for scooping soil, and over time your child can help rake and dig too.  

Check out this gardening post for ideas. 

image from  Zerlina Crafts

image from Zerlina Crafts

Snack Pouch 

Sturdy legs means longer walks and the need for snacks.  I always carried a tiny fabric bag for my toddler friends on our daily walks, and the flat bottom ones were always the most successful.  This super cute snack pouch is from Zerlina Crafts, and is washable, and water-resistant. Plus, the little tab on the side is perfect for clipping to a backpack for easy access. 

Walking Trike

This is a good introduction to the world of wheeled toys, and learning how to steer.  This trike is difficult to tip over and is low enough to the ground for most 18 month olds to climb on by themselves.  I've tied a string to the handlebars and helped with steering as a child got the hang of this trike.  

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Paintbrush and Bucket

Paint with water is my go-to outdoor activity with young toddlers.  Endless fun, no clean-up, and you can paint almost anything.  I'd suggest using the larger paintbrush in this set for outdoor, and save the others for indoor art projects.  This bucket from Toysmith is made from metal and holds up well to repeated outdoor use.  


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12-18 Months: Outdoor

12-18 months: Outdoor and Travel

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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. 


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The First Year: On the Go

The First Year: On the Go

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We highly suggest you limit your commitments in the first few months with your child, for her sake as well as your own. There is a lot of adjusting taking place for both of you!

When you do feel ready to travel, I suggest starting small, like going outside.

Babies LOVE to be outside and it's a win-win for you.  There's always something new to see, touch, smell, or experience and you don't have to do anything more than go out.   Even stepping onto your welcome mat is fine. 

You may find it helpful to have a carrier or stroller for longer walks and trips. I’ve listed a few below.

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! 


On the Go Materials

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Car Seat

If you plan on taking your child into a car at any point, you'll need a car seat.  The best car seat depends on the your vehicle or lifestyle and what kind of travel, features, and options matter to you.  Read this very through article from Baby Gear Lab to help you make the choice that's right for you.  

The safest seats for the first year are infant bucket-type seats. But, it’s improper installs that cause the most injury, not safety ratings of the car seat, so make sure you practice installing your car seat with an expert.

It's not ideal for your child to spend any more time in a car seat then necessary, as it is a container that will restrict her free movement and ability to explore.  

Baby Carriers and Slings

An carrier with infant accessories can be a real life saver for sore arms.  Many models will hold children from day one through toddlerhood, and are sturdy enough to last years.  Infants should ALWAYS face in with a carrier to help them feel safe and connected to you (front facing is like riding in the first car on a roller coaster).   

I'm a fan of the Ergo carrier (pictured and linked below), but there are many options available.  Learn more about choosing a carrier here. 

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Stroller

A stroller is certainly not necessary for life with an infant, but many people find them helpful and convenient.  Strollers are for the adults, and are easy transport from one location to another.  There is no developmental benefit for your child to ride in a stroller, and it's one of the least valuable activities she can spend her time doing (traveling on her own feet is best).  The best way to take a walk with your infant in the first year is in a carrier or in your arms, so you can narrate, stop, touch, and listen together.  

There is no "best stroller", read this article to decide the features your family needs for your lifestyle.  Or, skip the stroller and use a carrier or wagon instead.  

Radio Flyer Wagon

Use a wagon like this instead of a stroller for any infant who can sit up.  The wagon offers some freedom of movement and the autonomy to look around 360 degrees as you travel.  This model folds up for easy storage and can be used with older children too. 

Sun Hat

A hat is easier than sunscreen everytime you step outside.  This one is fully adjustable, has a wide brim, and a safety breakaway clip.  

Travel Play Yard

If you don't have the luxury of a safe outdoor (or indoor) space for your infant to explore, you can create one with a travel play yard.  This is my favorite model, as it is much larger than pack-and-plays, but has a floor and folds up.  No matter where you go, your child will have a safe, clean area to explore and move.  This is ideal for day trips and camping.  A pop-up shelter or tent could also work.

Picnic Blanket for Baby

Nothing beats a blanket for babies on the go.  Look for one with a water-resistant lining to keep both of you dry on damp grass, and a blanket that folds into a easy-carry pouch is quite handy.  

Image from  Topponcino n More

Topponcino

The topponcino is a infant-sized thin pillow bed used when holding or transferring a baby. It creates a sense of security and offers consistency of texture, smell, and temperature, which can really help an infant feel calm.

You can make a topponcino if you are crafty, or buy on on Etsy. Make sure you get a few covers to throw in the wash!


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