18-24 months: Play and Toys
Once toddlers can stand and really move, a whole new world opens up which needs exploring! Toys still need to be relatively simple and inviting. There is no need for toddlers to have electronic toys. Look for realistic, relatable themes 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. Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for movement, both inside and outside. Look for items to climb over, in, on top of, stand on, push, etc.
Play objects for 18-24 months should still 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, or metal.
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.
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Play Materials for 18-24 months
Jumbo Piece Puzzles
These large wood puzzles are perfect for young toddlers. The larger rounded knob encourages a strong fingertip grip (writing muscles), and with only three shapes to choose from, it's possible to complete the whole puzzle before losing interest or getting frustrated.
These thicker domino cards offer an opportunity to match by shape, color, and number. Use just a handful of these as a matching activity to start, or play a simple domino game with the whole family.
As your child gets stronger (and braver), she will want to climb everything. Give her an appropriate place to practice with an indoor climbing structure, like this Pikler triangle. I used one of these in my Parent-child toddler classes, and I love it. There's graduated difficulty and multiple ways to climb, so it can grow with your child. It folds up, and it's beautiful. And most importantly, the triangle allows your child to test her own skills and learn how to move safely. This one is from Wiwiurka, and is handmade in Mexico.
Push Along Duck
I personally think this duck is super cute, but more importantly it's been super popular with many toddlers I've worked with. The added complexity of walking behind a toy while steering and balancing is a welcome challenge for this age. I find the wood stick to be more manageable than string pull toys, and more challenging than the push-cart I suggested for 12 month olds.
Color Disc Sorter and Stacker
This is a classic Montessori Aid to Infancy material designed to build fine-motor and coordination skills. The smaller size of the dowel and discs encourages the tripod finger grip later used in writing, but are still large enough to avoid choking hazards. The simple colors and design help your child focus and make connections faster. This material is mama-handmade from Heirloom Kids USA.
Soft, Simple Doll
Dolls aren't just for girls. This handmade Waldorf-style doll is perfect for any 18-24 month old, and will stand up to strong love and use for years. A doll is perfect for caring role play, learning body parts and gentle, kind touch, and general companionship. This doll is from Margaritkadolls and is handmade in Poland.
Wooden Memory Game
Here's another game that offers a few ways to play together, or on your own! These wood tiles from Hape Toys with sweet, simple animal pictures can be matched together, used in a memory game, hidden for a lost-partner treasure hunt, or whatever else you can think of!
Here's an active activity your child can do indoor or out! I prefer softer pins for this age to help with noise and for safety reasons. There's a handful of plush or plastic bowling sets from Melissa and Doug, but this handmade set is from CrochetFanaticDesign is my favorite by far.