Cool Crafts To Make And Activities To Do With 12-18-Month-Olds

Mirror drawings are a great activity to do with 12-18 month olds.

Lockdown can feel limiting for the whole family, with lots of activities and places being out of bounds for the foreseeable future. Lockdown can feel particularly challenging for anyone with a 12 - 18-month-old, who is crawling everywhere, or who has just learnt to walk. Coming up with lots of creative, fun activities for the coming days, weeks, and possibly months, that will keep your 12 - 18 month old entertained can feel daunting - so we have put together some great ideas for activities and crafts that are sure to keep toddlers happy and amused. Activities for babies of this age should combine several different skills and learning opportunities - and within the day, play should include exploring, imaginative play, sensory learning and a range of other crafts and activities, giving toddlers a chance to develop their gross motor skills as well as their fine motor skills.

Sensory play is a favourite with many 12 - 18-month-olds - exploring each of their five senses: touch, taste, smell, sight, sound. Painting and other craft activities are excellent examples of sensory play, but even cleaning, tidying and washing have elements of sensory play. If you have an outside space, why not set up a little table or wipe-clean mat for them to use as their sensory 'studio'? If not - lay out newspapers, a large sheet of plastic or even a spare shower curtain on the floor, and then let your toddler make a mess.

Many of the activities that we have found can be quickly and easily set up, and then left in place, so that your toddler can return to many different activities throughout the day. This is suited to 12 - 18-month-olds, as they are typically not able to focus or concentrate on one task for a long period of time, and they tend to enjoy a variety of different activities - so it is a good idea to prepare some activities and crafts ahead of time that they can pick up and put down as they please.

Edible Paints

Edible Paints are a great idea for any 18-month-old toddlers are free to explore - even if that does mean putting paint in and on their face.

What You'll Need:

- A Blender

- A saucepan/steamer

- Broccoli, strawberries and carrots for the 'paints'

How To Make Edible Paints: Prepare and cook the carrots and broccoli, blending each vegetable separately in the blender to make the orange 'paint' and the green 'paint', then blend the strawberries to create red 'paint'. Then let your toddler get creative, using a large sheet of paper, the tray in their highchair or a plastic sheet - a shower curtain, for example - as their canvas. This will be messy so prepare to have bath time immediately afterwards. Rainy Day Mum has a great recipe, which you can find below.

Mess-Free Painting For Toddlers

What You'll Need:

- A large, clear ziplock bag

- Child-friendly, non-toxic paints

How To Make Mess-Free Ziplock Paintings: Simply fill the ziplock bag with some different coloured paints, before closing the ziplock. Make sure to take out the majority of the air from the bag before closing - you want just enough space for the paints to move around freely when pushed and prodded. Once made, sit your toddler in their highchair, and place the ziplock onto the tray in front of them. They will love moving the paints around - either with their hands or with a spoon or brush - and this is an amazing sensory play activity but without the usual mess and tidy up operation. If you don't have a clear ziplock bag, then you can substitute this for a clear poly pocket (typically used in a ring binder). Follow the same instructions as above, but seal the paint into the folder by simply folding over the open end and securing with sticky tape.


Water Painting

What You'll Need:

- Coloured sugar paper

- Cotton buds

- Small container filled with water

How To Make Water Paintings: Simply set out the sheet of paper on a waterproof surface - and then fill the container with a small amount of water. Place a few cotton buds in the container of water, so that they soak up lots of the liquid. Have your toddler pick out one of the cotton buds, and let them 'paint' on the piece of paper - watching as the paper changes colour wherever they put the water.

Letters to make words

Make A Mural At Home

What You'll Need:

- Baking paper

- Masking tape

- Stickers and crayons

How To Make A Mural: Tape up a long section of baking paper onto a wall at child height using the masking tape - perhaps do 2 or 3 levels of baking paper to fully protect the wall. Once the wall has been prepared, let your young one get creative - pass them stickers one at a time (which is a great opportunity to use up leftover stickers and half-used sheets from sticker books) and then let them create their own 'mural' straight onto the protected wall. You can use whatever materials you have in the house, such as crayons and post-it notes. This is an activity that an 18-month-old can return to throughout the day - slowly adding more stickers and drawings until the paper is full - so consider leaving the baking paper taped to the wall for a couple of days.

Tin Foil Presents For Your Toddler

What You'll Need:

- A selection of small toys

- A basket

- A roll of tin foil

How To Make Tin Foil Presents: Put together a selection of small toys from around the house - wrapping each one individually in tin foil. Put all of the tin foil presents into a basket or bucket, and then let your child unwrap each one. A great example of sensory play, your toddler is exploring the look, feel and sounds of the tin foil - as well as discovering what is inside each 'present'. Toddlers are surprised and delighted, even when they have seen the toy hundreds of times before.

Colourful sticks

Set Up A 'Stick Drop'

What You'll Need:

- The cardboard inner tube from a kitchen roll

- Masking tape

- A small bucket or basket

- A selection of colourful pick-up sticks (painted ice lolly sticks or colour pencils or pens will also work)

How To Make A Stick Drop:  Using the masking tape, simply tape the cardboard inner tube to the wall - vertically, and at the right height for your child to access the top of the tube. Gather a selection of colourful sticks - like straws, colouring pencils, felt tip pens or painted ice lolly sticks - anything that will easily fit down the tube. Set up a bucket directly underneath the tube, and then let your toddler drop the different items down the tube and into the bucket below. This activity will develop your toddler's fine motor skills, strengthening their hand-eye coordination with every straw or stick!

Child washing fruit

Set Up A Fruit Washing Station

What You'll Need:

- Large bowl or bucket

- Fruit scrubber or spare toothbrush

- A selection of fruits

How To Make A Fruit Washing Station: Simply fill the bucket or bowl with water, and let your toddler scrub, wash and play with the selection of fruits available to them. Choose fruits that don't bruise easily - apples, lemons, oranges are best for this, and hardy vegetables also work well. This is a great sensory play activity for toddlers - as they explore the different colours, textures and smells - and using the brush will help to develop their fine motor skills.

Baking Tray Magnet Play

What You'll Need:

- A metal baking tray

- A selection of magnets from around the house

How To Set Up Baking Tray Magnet Play: Find a selection of magnets from around the house - making sure they are large enough not to be a choking hazard. The colourful alphabet magnets that many children have are perfect for this, but fridge magnets and magnetic clips also work just as well. Simply lay the baking tray on the ground in front of your child - this works well for children from one year old and up - placing the different magnets onto it. Your toddler will develop their fine motor skills by pushing, pulling and lifting the magnets - and it is quick, easy and mess-free to set up.

Child playing

Toddler-Friendly Collage

What You'll Need:

- Piece of card

- Double-sided tape

- Small bits of paper, tissue paper, feathers, craft items like mini pom-poms and buttons

How To make A Toddler-Friendly collage: Place strips of double-sided tape all the way across the sheet of card, so that the entire surface is sticky. Prepare a tray of small craft items, like bits of coloured tissue paper, small buttons, feathers and pom-poms, then let your toddler get creative. It can be a good idea to use a little extra double-sided tape to keep the piece of card in place. A great crafty activity for an 18-month-old, they use their fine motor skills to pick up the little bits and pieces, and they can have fun making a colourful artwork with lots of different textures and shapes.

Child playing in kitchen

Everyday Activities For 18-Month-Old Babies

18 months old babies are often fascinated by household items and tasks - sometimes they even seem to like the hoover, broom or dustpan and brush more than the colourful toys and games that were designed with them in mind. There are lots of toddler-friendly activities to do around the house - which are great opportunities for learning and developing skills. During the lockdown, parents have more time throughout the day to engage their toddler in everyday tasks, chores and activities - so rather than rushing through the chores, trying to distract your toddler with a game or toy, why not get your 18 month old involved? Although toddlers may not be the most efficient helpers, lockdown is a good chance to teach them the essential skills they will need, helping them to develop their fine motor skills.

For further inspiration, watch the Hidden Gem's YouTube video 'Montessori Practical Life Activities', which is full of great ideas for household activities for your toddler.

- Lay out 2 or 3 different outfit options on the floor, and let your toddler choose which one they want to wear. This is a great early morning activity - giving your toddlers the chance to make a decision, giving them a sense of independence.

- The clean up after meals can be a difficult moment in the day with an 18-month-old because many toddlers hate having their face and hands cleaned. To make the end of each mealtime more enjoyable for baby and parents - why not encourage your toddler to do the clean up themselves? Offer them a clean cloth, and encourage them to clean their hands and face, and even to wipe down their highchair. They might not do a thorough job, but it is a good learning opportunity, and they will enjoy feeling more independent. Once your toddler has done most of the clean up themselves, all you have to do is a quick tidy up afterwards.

- At 18 months, kids love sweeping and need no encouragement to do so. Toddlers love to copy their parents, so get sweeping together or let them loose with their broom, cleaning any tiled areas in the house, sweeping leaves off the driveway or cleaning decking in the garden.

- Make the most of the extra time in lockdown by teaching your toddler to safely use the stairs. Build your toddler's confidence by practising going up and down the stairs throughout the day - resisting the urge to carry them to save time. Hold your toddler's hand as they slowly but surely climb each stair - and make sure not to rush. By encouraging your toddler to take their time on the stairs they will have practised using the stairs safely, which is a good lesson for them to learn before they start climbing the stairs all by themselves.

- Loading and unloading the washing machine are great toddler activities. At 18 months, toddlers are at the perfect height for using the washing machine, and they enjoy moving items from the laundry basket to the drum, and vice versa. Your toddler may be easily distracted by the buttons on the machine, or by the door - but lockdown is a great opportunity to take the time to complete your daily household chores together.

If you liked this article and would like more activity ideas, check out our articles on Montessori Activities To Try At Home and 37 No-Mess Indoor Activities For Kids.


Written By

Rosanna Robertson

Godmother to two little girls, Rosanna enjoys finding ways to entertain her goddaughters with games, cooking and – best of all - arts and crafts. Having studied Fine Art, Rosanna uses her creativity to make colourful, fun and educational art and craft projects that are perfect for kids of all ages. Full of ideas for homemade cards and handcrafted gifts, toys and decorations – Rosanna also has a knack for finding child-friendly cultural activities and fun places for kids to blow off steam.

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