Entertaining a 12- to 18-month Old

Entertaining a 12- to 18-month Old

Erin Burt

Well, it’s official. We have reached the gloriously terrifying stage of toddlerhood. My daughter can toddle wherever she wants with glee, sans trepidation or fear. It’s fun to watch her explore, yet also slightly unsettling as it is difficult to keep her entertained when she really just wants to play with those brightly colored spray bottles under the sink.

She’s my third child, so I admittedly don’t have a lot of toys around for her. After her two brothers, I have found that these 12-18-month-olds love nothing more than neglecting toys in favor of new discoveries. I am not always able to sit on the floor with her constructing block towers for her to destroy, so I needed to figure out ways to keep her entertained and safe. Here are some activities that she enjoys:

  • High chair finger-painting. (The high chair contains the mess!) This article explains some of the how-to and why for toddler painting. Also, if you have any grandparent birthdays around the corner, they love this for gifts!
  • Sensory play (essentially… anything messy!) One of my kiddos was slightly sensory-averse and this backfired. But my daughter LOVES playing with cooked spaghetti or rice. Here are 40+ sensory play ideas.
  • Save your containers! We use old oatmeal containers or leftover plastic Easter eggs. Fill them with beans or rice. My daughter LOVES shaking them and making noise. Added bonus? I know EXACTLY where she is. It’s sort of like having a bell for her.
  • Busy Bags. Have you heard of these? They’re new to me! I wish I had had them for when my oldest was younger and he would spend time in the stroller while I trained for a half-marathon. We are trying to keep a stash of random Busy Bags for car trips (we are driving thirteen hours next month for vacation), doctor’s office visits, rainy days, etc. You can rotate them out to keep things exciting! Check on Etsy for some really cute, hand-made busy bags.
  • Fine and Gross Motor Skill development. This is a little more time-consuming, so I tend to save these types of things for a rainy day. Here are some ideas!
  • Outdoor exploration. Ok, I’ll be totally honest. This is everyone’s favorite. We pack snacks and go to a new park (preferably one with trees, ponds, and a little bit of wildlife- even if it’s just ducks!) and stroll around. I go at their pace. We talk about what we see, hopefully developing my daughter’s vocabulary while helping my older kiddos (ages 5 and 3) learn story-telling skills while burning off energy. And it doesn’t have to cost money! We even just take neighborhood walks looking for interesting things to collect.

These are all things I have ACTUALLY tried. My older kids love participating, too, so it’s a win-win all around!

Kara Garis is a cloth diapering, baby wearing, semi-crunchy mama to two active boys and a baby girl. She lives with her husband in Oklahoma and loves running, cooking, traveling, reading and teaching herself how to braid. She blogs at karagaris.com.

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