12 Indoor Toddler Activities {12-18 months}

Are you looking for ways to entertain your one year old? Here are 12 indoor toddler activities for your 12-18 month old that he or she will love!

Samuel is growing so fast. The time between baby and toddler is far too short. The days of the first smile, the first laugh, the first roll, the first wave gets quickly replaced by the ability to hold a crayon, eat with a fork, drink from a big boy cup and the crib is set on the lowest setting.

The phases of life ebb and flow, but as a baby, a toddler, it seems to be under a magnifying glass. Where did all those teeth come from? Better yet, where did that temper tantrum come from?

As Sam grows, so does Mommy (hopefully). I’m learning that he no longer needs occupied. He needs taught. He no longer needs cradled. He needs hugs. He needs disciplined. He needs everything that I can give him. He needs Jesus.

With the imminent move, things are a bit crazy. Nothing is where I left it. The packing tape tends to get wrapped around the baby’s legs more than the boxes. My magic markers end up packed inside the boxes, as that’s the only logical solution to where they keep disappearing to. I find baby puffs stuck to my bottom, socks, and between my bobby pins on a daily basis. Yet, this child, this son of mine, still grows, still changes. He needs me to show him the way, how it all works.

So because a boy doesn’t stop growing just because we have a cross country move in just over week, I created a list of toddler activities to not just keep him busy, but to teach him. He loves it, especially since he’s no longer interested in his toy corner in the slightest.

12 Indoor Toddler Activities {12-18 months}

1. Saving for College – He loves to fill the Piggy Bank Sour Cream Tub (just cut a slit in the top) with money. I also give him a couple of extra bowls for him to fill and dump. Oh, and repeat.

12 indoor toddler activities for 12-18 months old

2. Bean Sorting – A bowl of beans and a muffin tin. He loves dumping, sorting, and stirring.

3. Drop the Pin into a Milk Jug – Clothes pins see a lot of action around here: Remember my Advent Calendar for Broke People Who Line Dry Their Clothes? For this project, I cut a square out of the side of a half gallon milk jug. I handed it to Samuel and let him drop clothes pins into the top. He absolutely loves this “toy.”

4. Ice Cube Trays, Who Knew? I give him pom poms, miniature foam blocks, and rocks to sort in his ice cube trays. The possibilities are endless.

indoor activities for kids
toddler games for inside

5. Six One Way Half a Dozen the Other – Another great opportunity to teach colors, but for now, he enjoys opening and closing the egg carton. When he tires of it, I will add treats to the eggs.

6. Alternative to Light Sockets – This kid thoroughly enjoys “plugging things in.” I thought maybe an alternative to vacuum cords and light sockets was in order. This feeds his desire to plug and unplug safely. Stir sticks and an old plastic cup (our fish came in this years ago…ode to Samson, may he rest in peace) with holes cut in the top.

7. Magnets & Fancy Platter – We love our foam magnets. I found a small serving platter in the wedding section at the Dollar Tree. It’s the perfect size for Sam’s high chair tray or for traveling. I have a few bags of magnets (pictures, numbers, letters, etc.) that I pull out on occasion. We also hot glued some magnets to a few pom-poms. This is great for traveling in a car (see my busy bags post) or even an airplane!

8. Wooden Puzzles – We keep a wooden puzzle of farm animals in his bed with him. He needs to wake up in the morning alone. He’s like his … well, he’s related to his parents. He loves having his puzzle to play with, and sometimes, he enjoys a little puzzle working before he goes to sleep at night. Other times in the day, we keep puzzles lying around for him to work at his leisure.

9. Wooden Ring Stacker – We have the Melissa & Doug Rainbow Stacker, which Samuel adores. This is probably one of his top 3 activities. He’s getting really good at putting them on himself. He gets a little side tracked occasionally. πŸ˜‰

10. Cup Stacking – We had paper drinking cups left over from his UNO themed birthday party. I handed them to him one day to see what he would do with them. He started stacking and unstacking them within minutes.

11. Completely Original Coloring Activity – This one doesn’t need explaining, but I will. I just give him a sheet of scrap paper, or I print a coloring page off the computer for him to color. He loves it, and it’s especially helpful since every restaurant gives coloring sheets at the table. By the way, I bought crayons, but I totally could have went with our collection from the restaurants.

12. Flour Fun – I set Sam up on a plastic table cloth (why is it called a cloth when it’s plastic?) and let him go to town with our white flour. We don’t use white flour for anything so I figured letting Samuel “pretend cook” was as good a way to use it as any. He thoroughly enjoyed this activity. Since it was on the plastic, it was very easy clean up. I got serious Mom Points for this one, I think.

What kind of activities does your toddler enjoy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

You might also like:

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  1. Oh man, I LOVE these!! All of them! Well, I honestly think the flour one would give me an aneurism…but maybe daddy will do it. πŸ˜‰ My son, who was 17 months yesterday, LOVES stacking, sorting and instering things. I never would have thought about the beans and the muffin tin. Totally gonna do that!! THANK YOU!!!! You’d think being on my 3rd kid I’d have more ideas, but my girls were so much more…mellow…than this lil man cub. πŸ™‚

    1. I have found that I don’t mind mess. I have my reasons and maybe some day I’ll share, haha! BUT you do what works for you, lady. πŸ™‚ It is amazing the things that entertain little ones. With our move, I’ve decided we’re tossing a bunch of toys. It has been wonderful, and Sam hasn’t missed them a bit. Why would he when he has paper cups to play with? I’m glad you got some ideas. πŸ™‚

      1. hi! My son is almost 11 months old and I want to start doing activities like the ones you showed! A couple I worry he might just try to eat right now lol, but for the the ice cube one with Pom poms do you just give him the stuff and let him do with what he wants? Or do you show him to sort by colors? Thank you in advance!

        1. Both! I let him free play for a while and then I might sit down and help him do some color sorting, counting, etc. I’ve also found with my second child who is 14 months old that larger pom poms are extra fun because they “stuff” and will literally entertain him for half hour segments!

          1. Sure you can definitely do that! Just talk about the texture of the pom-poms. Tell him the color. Count them as you put them into the tray. Make patterns (red, orange, red, orange…what comes next?). He won’t know the answers yet, but you just start introducing them now in a fun way. Eventually you’ll be amazed what children retain!

  2. Oh my what great ideas! I was better about planning out Shelby’s play time when she was a baby. Now, Karli just gets Shelby’s leftover toys. Ha ha. If I set stuff out like this Shelby just takes it. HA HA…but I will pull out some of these tricks today! Thanks for sharing your ideas…and thanks for linking to me πŸ™‚

  3. My girls are playing with beans and sorting them in a muffin tin. Literally…as we speak. They are happy. They are playing together. Oh my goodness

  4. Such great ideas! I’ve done the magnet try (but using a cookie sheet from the dollar store) and it’s SO good for traveling. I will have to try some of these other ideas for the little one!

    1. Thanks, Anne! I love our little Dollar Tree tray. It’s so much smaller and easier to fit in a diaper bag. I was so excited when I found it. Cookie sheets work just fine too though! πŸ™‚

  5. Great ideas!! Love the matching colors with egg crates! and the flour and dump trucks. We use rice.. it’s easier to clean up!! Cute boys! πŸ™‚ Love them!

  6. Of course, I love the ideas, as I have done several of these with my now 2 year old. Thanks so much for linking to my activities!!!

  7. Im in tears, thank you so much for this post. Its exactly what I needed. My son is 18 months and although he loves his toys he just seems bored.these activities seem perfect. Grabbing my muffin pans, beans, and eggs right now πŸ™‚

  8. Love these ideas. Question: when did your son get to the point where he wouldn’t eat all of these items? My son is 13 mos and while I’m sure he’d love these activities (he’s playing w a tongue depressor as a hair brush right now) I know the coins and beans are out of the question right now.

    1. You know, I don’t really remember. My oldest never was huge on putting things in his mouth so he was probably fine by 13 months. BUT every child is so different. My second puts EVERYTHING in his mouth. So I expect he won’t be ready for some of the small items quite as early. But you could always pull out the muffin tin with tennis balls or pin pong balls or foam letters or trucks and cars. OR Cheerios or some other snack you allow! Clearly I was just brainstorming alternatives there πŸ™‚ I’m sure you could come up with something as a safe alternative using the idea.

  9. SO many great ideas… I can’t wait to use them all with my son. he’s one and a half, and I can totally see him loving all these activities. I just hope he doesn’t stick things in his mouth! As soon as I read the name of your first activity (Saving for College), I couldn’t help myself — I had to read on!

    Thanks for the ideas!

  10. Great ideas, but my child would still try to eat a lot of these small things at 2. Definitely would need to watch 12-18 month olds VERY closely with mini magnets, pennies, and coffee beans.

    And I’d worry about inhalation of flour dust if play got a little too fun. I’ve literally choked on flour dust.

  11. These are AMAZING!! Your son reminds me of mine and I can’t wait to have him try a bunch of these! Thank you for sharing these ideas!

    1. Hey, Melissa! My son is almost 16 months old now and I have the EXACT same problem! I even asked Leigh Ann this question on FB. (I forgot about this post!) I have been looking all week for activities to keep him busy, but is safe for him to put in his mouth. The main thing I’ve adapted is I use edible things whenever possible (Like a bowl of dry cheerios, a muffin pan, and a spoon, or goldfish crackers, or whatever). That way he can just put it in his mouth. Also, you can use the large items, like the larger blocks or puzzle pieces. And I even tried the large pom poms this week (gasp!) And he did fine! I cut a hole in the top of the lid of a container and he stuffed the large pom poms in and tried pulling them back out. Kept him busy for a bit! I am just going to hold off on the beans and small pom poms until I notice he is ready for them.
      Oh, water play is always a good one, too. Just thought of that that’s not “chokey.” Hope that helps!

  12. These are awesome! Exactly the type of ideas this first time mama was looking for…my husband works nights so I wrangle my 18-month-old on my own when I cook. Can’t wait to try these! πŸ™‚