Finding the best toys for your 18-month-old can be a challenge. They’ve outgrown their baby toys but still put small pieces in their mouths, and they’re not ready for toys designed specifically for older toddlers. I try to choose toys that will keep young toddlers busy, and put a lot of focus on toys that will grow with them. Most of these toys are also played with by my 3 year-old, so I feel good recommending them knowing (most) are toys your toddler will enjoy in the years to come.
A good toy will stimulate your toddler, encourage them to move, pretend, and play, and they will, ideally, like them in the months and years to come. So whether you’re looking for gift ideas for a niece or nephew, have a baby that’s going to enter this stage soon, or are here and wondering what to do with your 18 month old, I hope I’ve got you covered.
The 44 best toys for 18 Month Olds
My daughters are 18 months and 3.5, so I am a big fan of toys that both girls will want to play with. When it comes to selecting toys, I prefer wooden toys because they feel simple, substantial, and if I’m being honest, they’re often a bit more aesthetically pleasing. But sometimes, you need to go for a brightly colored plastic toys. Kids love a little color. I should add that some of these toys do have pieces that a child could choke on. Always supervise your toddler when playing with anything small enough to fit inside their mouth.
Toddlers love playing pretend, and baby dolls are one of those toys for 18-month olds that they will continue to use in the months and years to come. Think of toys that will inspire them to be creative. Kitchens, grocery stores, figurines, dolls (I love these anatomically correct vanilla scented dolls, too), and food toys are a great start. You don’t need all of these, but I’d be sure to have a kitchen, doll, figurines, and play food.
I wasn’t sure where to stick the Toniebox in this post, but it’s one of our most-used toys. It’s recommended for ages 3 and up but my younger daughter has been using it independently since she was around 15 months old. She loves switching the figurines out, and will either do that, or have music playing while she plays.
This is one of those toys your toddler will play with for forever, and they never seem to tire of it. If you're looking for a gift for a child 5 or under, I can't recommend this enough. My 18 month old loves stacking ice cream and my 3 year old loves playing ice cream shop.
Another toy that will get a lot of use in the years to come. Prime storage for play food, and endless creativity for little chefs. We have the larger PBK kitchen since it's a bit bigger and it was my hope the girls would use it until they were 5, but this size seems perfect and would take up less space
I've raved about the Toniebox. Toddlers love switching characters, listening to stories, and dancing to music. It's so nice having something play that they can control without screens. It was designed for children three and up but my younger daughter started using it independently at around 15 months, and my 3 year-old uses it during quiet time. It's amazing.
My 3 year old has the Maileg dollhouse but it's sold out and a lot of the accessories aren't ideal for 18 month olds. That said, my 18 month old loves it, and the tiny pieces only come out when she's napping. This house is really cute and very substantial, so I imagine we'll get at least another 5-7 years out of it.
Plastic or wood, simple or a favorite TV character, figurines are good for hours of fun, and great for all ages. We bring them in the car and play with them with everything (cars, blocks, dollhouse etc).
My kids just got this for Christmas and have been playing with it nonstop. 18 months is too young to run a grocery store, but she loves playing with and naming the food, and it's a toy she'll grow into. This toy is on the smaller side, so I think it would not get much use after age 4-5.
My kids started coloring when they were around 12 months old. At 18 months and up, you’ll see toddlers really starting to get creative. I avoid paint at all costs but know we need to give finger-painting a go soon. My 18 month old will ask for her favorite color, and loves using crayons and dot markers, so I haven’t pushed anything messier. Get some bright colors and let them go wild on an easel or play table. These giant coloring posters are amazing, too. I taped one down to the playroom floor, put some crayons down, and the girls colored on and off for days!
The perfect size for toddlers who are just learning to sit at a table independently, this table is ideal for creative play and creating mini masterpieces. It is on the smaller side, so the chairs are probably ideal for age 5 and under.
Leave it to Melissa and Doug to make two caterpillar toys that are single-handedly responsible for making sure my girls knew all their colors when they were just a little over a year old. The Lovevery Montesssori play kits are incredible. They’re so well-made and come with a book for parents that explains the various ways to play with them. They are so worth it and make a great gift.
Chunky puzzles seem to be a one-use toy but they’re actually great for open-ended play, too. Since they are essentially wooden painted animals, trucks etc, the pieces can be used a number of ways. I store all the pieces in a small basket, so when it’s time to play with puzzles, finding the right pieces is part of the game.
This set comes with over 100 flash cards that include animals, vehicles, household objects, etc. The back of each card has a game that will help teach colors or numbers – these are seriously the best! We use them all the time.
Ah. Open-ended toys are my favorite. These are toys that kids can play with independently, in multiple ways. The way they use these toys can change as they grow. Blocks, dolls, simple, wooden toys. I included a lot of blocks, and you don’t need them all, but these are toys your toddler will use for years. I keep open baskets in the play room and living room, and inside we have wooden blocks, magnetic blocks, and of course, Duplo. The girls are on a big Duplo kick right now.
Wooden animals and figurines will be played with forever. We have a good mix of plastic figurines from their favorites shows (hello, Daniel Tiger) but any time I can find a wooden version, I’m on it. I keep a basket (so many baskets) of wooden characters, animals, and a few vehicles, and they can be used with blocks, play silks, etc.
My kids love Duplo. We have a huge basket of them in the playroom and they're always building something. Highly recommend getting the number train, and this particular set has ice cream and cupcakes, which have been a favorite.
This is a splurge but is well-made and beautiful, and can be used in so many different ways. Make a rainbow tunnel, town, tower, or circles to house your animals. Kids can't not be creative with Grimms wooden toys.
70 wooden pieces that work with each other in more than 20 stage-based activities. It's a car, shape sorter, ramp, and wooden string toy. Years of learning through play, crafted by child development experts. Build a car, city, towers, or thread with string.
I love this take on wooden blocks with colorful, acrylic windows. These blocks encourage hand-eye coordination, color exploration, and are perfect for light table activities. We have the IKEA Flisat and I'm ordering a light table cover. Excited to use the two together.
Ride on toys are great for toddlers at this age. They’re learning that they can make toys move, and are finally coordinated enough to get the hang of climbing, jumping, and even driving. I’ve included a few climber and ride-on options, and will let you know what we have, love, and use below.
My 18 month old hasn't mastered the stepping stones yet, but we're working on it. She was a late walker (17 months) but is very physical, so these will be great for her in the coming months. They're great for learning colors and following instructions, too.
This bouncy cow is one of her favorites. My younger daughter definitely needs supervision since she inches too close to the front and falls off, but she loves it. It's one of those toys they'll grow into.
This is one of the cooler toddler items we own. It easily converts from a learning tower to a table, so it's great for toddlers who are interested in being at the counter, or who want their own kid-friendly spot to play or eat in the kitchen.
These are amazing. The first time I broke one out, my daughter, who was almost 3 at the time, played with it for at least 30 minutes. My younger daughter started using them before she was even 1 and still loves them. They're strangely addicting and educational, too.