Have you tried lots of activities you’ve pinned and discovered that the art and crafts don’t end up anything like they are meant to, or you have a baby that puts EVERYTHING in their mouth? That was our situation when we started Rainy Day Mum back in 2011. I was thinking on my feet for activities that I could do with my young toddler and newborn that would let us spend quality time together and not be too difficult for a sleep deprived mum of 2 under 2. All of these activities we successful and we did regularly whilst my children were under 18-months old so these are ideal activities for babies and young toddlers.
Note: There is some overlap with our activities for under 2’s and toddler activities because children develop at different times and have different strengths. Click through the links and make a judgment on whether the activity would work with your child at the stage of development they are at the moment.
We have also included affiliate links to products and resources we recommend.
These are 35 activities for 18 -months-old and under (well from around 6 months to 18 months) that we have done with T over the last year, they are easy to set up and in the most part are free and where there is a cost that is very little. There are Art Activities, Exploring, Imaginative Play, Sensory and activities for fine and gross motor skills.
Baby Art Ideas
We love arts and crafts here on Rainy Day Mum and when my two were tiny I loved trying different activities and getting them used to using different materials. This was a great way to start regularly crafting. You can see by the pictures that I tended to do the activities whilst my daughter was in her high chair, this was so that I could contain the mess. We aren’t a daycare provider all of these activities were done at home with her in our kitchen and dining room so I wanted to contain the mess as much as possible. As she got older we have moved to free art and crafts but at this stage, I loved the ease of clean-up doing this.
- Contact Paper Butterflies – make these easy butterflies that little hands can make
- Edible Finger Paints – these are ideal paints to use with babies from 6 months old – edible and you can produce some vibrant colours
- Sponge and dot Painting – simple art activity for little hands to use
- Homemade Finger Paints – this taste safe finger paint recipe is great for producing vibrant colours and the paint will last a while
- Traditional Finger Paints – using non-toxic finger paints and supervised try this finger painting activity with your young babies and toddlers
- Rainbow Fish Hand Prints – a simple craft that starts off as a process art ideal for making thank you cards for 1st birthday gifts
- Glitter Hearts – pretty hearts that you can hang up in a mobile or use to decorate your fridge
- Canvas Painting – create something during those first 18 months that you can then treasure with our guide on how to canvas paint with babies and young toddlers
- Butterflies – make pretty butterflies as you see them in the spring and summer months with your little ones
- Hot Air Balloon Sun Catcher – this is a fun craft that you can do with a baby, toddler and older kids it’s easy to set up and ideal for when you have children of multiple ages.
- Make a First Christmas Ornament with your Baby – inspired by the book Spot’s First Christmas this is an ideal craft for you to commerate your babies first Christmas
Sensory Play for Babies
Babies and toddlers are sensory seekers, they explore the world through their 5 senses, looking, listening, tasting, feeling and smelling. These sensory play ideas work with your babies once they are sitting unaided and have started on eating food.
- Spaghetti – this kitchen cupboard staple is an ideal easy sensory material, discover a play suggestion and how to dye it without ending up covered in dye
- Playdough – a classic and favourite with many. This taste safe playdough is made using our favourite recipe click through to discover the recipe for yourself
- Gloop or Oobleck – a fantastic sensory material, as non-Newtonian fluid, it is most unexpected and makes a wonderful experience for you and your child
- Oats – another kitchen staple and easy to prepare for sensory play, we kept the oats in a jar and reused many times allowing us to visit this time and time again
- Making Music – simple idea for making music with your babies
- Junk Music Playing – once you have children you may like us discover your recycling bin is half as full as you keep a junk modeling box stocked which is ideal for making musical instrument
- Instant Pudding and Ice – this edible sensory play is SO easy to make and both of my children a toddler and baby loved exploring the sensations of the ice
- Baby Ball – this is such an easy activity to do with your very young babies and perfect for on the changing table.
Hand-made Busy Bags we recommend
Have you tried Busy Bags with your babies yet – these are fantastic and ideal for taking with you in the car, popping in your changing bag or having in the stroller for when you need to keep your little ones entertained. Here are some of our favourite recommendations – these are affiliate links
I love supporting small businesses and Etsy is the place to find busy bags that are perfect for this range. There is a HUGE selection and they have so many different possibilities. I loved the cookie and cooking bag for my kids they loved cooking the cookies and then we would count them in and count them out again. Another favorite the finger puppet farm – how cute are they?
Imaginative Play for young toddlers and babies
Children are imaginative and we can encourage this through play, check out these simple ideas for imaginative play with your babies and young toddlers
- Frozen Lake – if you return after a walk in the winter and have seen icey puddles or a frozen pond then this simple play idea is easy to set up within a couple of hours
- Goldilocks and the three bear – spend a few nights reading the classic fairy tale Goldilocks and the three bears and then set up this simple play idea for your little ones and renact the story and watch them extend it further
- Ocean World – this edible ocean world was perfect after a visit to the sea side, reading sharing a shell or our aquarium visit it wasn’t just imaginative though it became a whole body sensory experience for my sensory seeking toddler along with my baby at the time
- Shops – a favourite from my childhood, playing shops revisit this with your own child
- Tea Party – who doesn’t love having a tea party, check out our set-up and suggestions for “make believe food”
- Tiger who came to Tea – if you’ve read the book then this imaginative play including suggestions for tiger masks is going to be a hit
- Boats – turn your room into a river and take a trip down
The foundations that you lay when your child is young will help develop the muscles and coordination needed for when they write later in life.
- Laundry Basket Fun – large movement simple to set up activity
- Putting in and taking out – whilst they carry out this activity and it was a favourite around 10 months to 11 months old you can introduce counting and even colours
- Transfering Food – use different types of food and you can help with coordination and fine motor control
- Pasta Play – raid the kitchen cupboards and set up this simple fine motor activity for little ones to do
- Shell Fun – after a visit to the beach wash the shells and then set up this activity for your baby and young toddler
- Block Play – one of our favourite toys blocks, find out this suggestion for play
Everything is new for a baby but in that time you can create new experiences for them as well as let them explore here are a few of the suggestions of place and experiences for your baby and young toddler.
Books for babies and young toddlers
Reading with your baby is one of the best ways to get them interested in books and also in learning. A lot of the books for babies are aimed at exciting the senses as well. My favorites well there were two when T and J were younger – the “That’s not my” series and also the “Indestructible” Series.
See some of our other recommendations for reading throughout the year – although some may be aimed at Toddlers or Preschoolers these books are great to read aloud to even the youngest baby and it’s a great idea to get into the habit early on with bedtime stories.
Activity Plans for Babies
Although I’ve provided some fantastic ideas for you I know how crazy life with a baby can be and even more so when you are doing life with a baby and a toddler so having a routine or rhythm to your day can help and if you can get someone else to do the hard work for you – well even better.
A fellow blogger Jamie from Hands on As We Grow one of my favorite blogs has put together exactly what you need and how I wish she had done it when I was at that stage. There is an activity plan “Discover” just for babies (1 year and under) how cool is that as that was my most challenging age to come up with activities for. Then as they turn 1 and head on to become a toddler there is a second activity plan which is “Play” activities that create memories that you can do with your kids.
Not sure on these then why not try out the FREE 7 Day Challenge and see what’s it’s all about.