Best toys for 18 month olds 2023: gifts they’ll love as they reach important milestones

Best toys for 18-month-olds
(Image credit: Future/Canva)

The best toys for 18-month-olds are those that take account of the huge developmental milestones that babies reach at this age, with lots of exciting firsts and an explosion of new learnings. But when it comes to buying gifts, what are the best toys for 18-month-olds? 

Moving on from best toys for 6 month olds (opens in new tab) you might be browsing the top Christmas toys (opens in new tab) in search of inspiration, scrolling through the best toys for 1-year-olds (opens in new tab) or even thinking ahead to the best toys for 2-year-olds (opens in new tab) but we've made things even easier with this roundup of the best toys for 18-month-olds. 

When choosing the best toys for 18-month-olds, a top tip is to think about what skills they are currently honing. The next six months will be huge in terms of their movement, language and creative development. So it’s worth looking for toys that support and encourage growth in those areas while allowing them to have fun at the same time.

So, whether you’re looking for toys for your own little one, or you want to buy a gift that will really be loved by a child in your life, we’ve searched high and low for the best toys for 18-month-olds. 

Best toys for 18-month-olds you can buy right now

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We put together our list of the best toys for 18-month-olds by following our own babies’ interests, taking into account parent reviews and speaking to child development experts.

According to early years practitioner Kirsty Ketley, from Auntie K’s Childcare (opens in new tab), most children will have mastered walking at 18 months and will be learning to jump and climb. 

She says: “Cognitively, they will be needing toys and activities that challenge them. They will be learning numbers, shapes and colours, so games that encourage these things are great. They also help children learn to take turns and will help with the development of their speech and language.”

Educational consultant Ruth Lee-Quee, founder of My Mummy Teacher Learning Through Play Cards (opens in new tab), says: “Around the age of 18 months children are beginning to develop their awareness of self-identity, beginning to imitate day to day activities at home and follow simple situational directions. They will also begin to start saying a range of single words and get an emerging hand preference.” 

So here’s our round-up of the best toys for 18-month-olds, from retailers including JoJo Maman Bebe, John Lewis and The Entertainer.

Mamas & Papas Rocking Caterpillar

Credit: Mamas & Papas

(Image credit: Mamas & Papas)

1. Mamas & Papas Rocking Caterpillar

Good for: Physical and auditory development | Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £55

For the 18-month-old who’s always on the move, this cute rocking caterpillar from Mamas & Papas is sure to keep them entertained. The bright colourful character, with a cheerful smile would be a great addition to any bedroom or playroom.

Plus the hidden crinkle sounds in its feet and rattling antennae are great for stimulating your little one’s senses and encouraging exploration.

Baby Einstein Hape Magic Touch Piano

Credit: JoJo Maman Bébé

2. Baby Einstein Hape Magic Touch Piano

Good for: Auditory and cognitive development Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: Yes - 3 x AA (included) | RRP: £29.99

This beautiful wooden piano with 11 colourful touch keys is a great first musical instrument for little ones. It comes with five music sheets that play 10 melodies when inserted. So younger children will enjoy trying to play along to the classical music and older ones will have fun composing their own tunes. 

The piano introduces children to rhythm and sound recognition and helps develop colour coordination by matching keys to the sheet music. Mum Alyssa tells us: "My son received this as a gift for his first birthday and he absolutely loves it. It was easy for him to learn how to use it, and he loves being able to create his own music. This is great for creativity and development."  

My First Wooden Stacking Rings

Credit: John Lewis

3. My First Wooden Stacking Rings

Good for: Fine motor skills | Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £12

This super cute animal stacker is a brilliant way for little ones to work on their hand-eye coordination and problem-solving. The five chunky wooden rings can be stacked in different orders and are topped off with a cute teddy head with felt ears. 

Mum Sara tells us: “This is an excellent and simple toy. My baby loves it and it is great for practising fine motor skills.” The colourful design will look lovely displayed in a nursery and we thought this was a great price for a little gift. 

Best toys for 18-month-olds: Dozy Dinkum Doll

Credit: Kidly

4. Dozy Dinkum Doll

Good for: Social skills | Age suitability: Newborn + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £35

As toddlers start to become more aware of the world around them, they'll begin to role-play. Recreating family life is always a favourite game, and the Dozy Dinkum cuddly dolls are cleverly weighted so they've got all the floppiness of a newborn. They can be put in lots of cute sleepy poses and are sure to keep little ones busy as they make sure they are all cosy in their little cotton babygro.

Kirsty says: “Toddlers' social and emotional development will centre around imaginative play. So dressing up and role-play toys are a great idea. These are also great for helping them to make sense of their developing emotions, which will be very strong at times!”

Vtech Spin And Learn Colours Torch

Credit: Boots

5. VTech Spin and Learn Colours Torch

Good for: Auditory and cognitive development | Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: Yes - 2 x AAA (included) | RRP: £15

Most toddlers love colourful lights and this is a great way for little ones to also develop their listening skills.

The five different coloured lights and animal graphics create fun visuals to attract a toddler's attention. By turning the ring they can discover different animals and the sounds they make. The three buttons can also be used to learn colours and numbers, as well as play different melodies.

Grandad Martyn explains to us: “This is a brilliant little torch with a few different modes. It kept an 18-month-old busy for ages.”

Best toys for 18-month-olds: LEGO DUPLO Number Train

Credit: Smyths Toys

6. Lego Duplo Number Train

Good for: Cognitive development and fine motor skills | Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £17.99

Duplo is a great option for busy toddlers and this number train ticks lots of educational boxes too. So it's easy to see why it made our list of best toys for 18-month-olds

Bright and colourful, it’s a great introduction to numbers and colours for little ones. Plus, the set also comes with two characters and a dog figure which encourage imaginative play. Our little tester enjoyed opening and closing the roof to put the driver in and pushing the train around. 

Grandma Tracey tells us: “My grandson absolutely loved this Lego Duplo number learning train. We played for a long time putting different numbers on all the little carriages.”

Daball Animal Themed Ball

Credit: Amazon

7. Daball Animal Themed Ball

Good for: Gross motor skills | Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £12.99

As toddlers become more confident on their feet, they’ll start to practise standing on one leg to kick. So these little footballs are the perfect size for an introductory ball.

With a choice of cute characters, including a fox, corgi, zebra, polar bear and unicorn, there will be something to suit every animal enthusiast. The faux leather ball also comes with a pump, making it quick and easy to inflate.

JoJo Maman Bébé Push Along Pram

Credit: JoJo Maman Bébé

8. Push-along Toy Pram

Good for: Gross motor and social skills Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £59 

Now that toddlers are starting to play pretend, it’s the perfect time to introduce a toy pram. The great thing about this wooden pram is that it is heavy enough to be used as a walker, but moves smoothly over floors and carpets. 

It also includes a floral print duvet and pillow accessories, so is perfect for tucking up dolls and teddies as little ones start to develop their role play skills. 

Rosa & Bo Woodland Nesting Babies

Credit: Rosa & Bo

(Image credit: Rosa & Bo)

9. Rosa & Bo Woodland Nesting Babies

Good for: Cognitive development and fine motor skills | Age suitability: 3 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £22

These beautiful nesting babies from Rosa & Bo are a great toy for 18-month-olds, encouraging hand-to-eye coordination and imaginative play. The Russian Doll inspired toy includes Ruby Fox, Basil Badger, Olive Owl and Benji Bunny, who includes a chime feature.

This toy helps to boost ordering and sequencing skills and also develops early number concepts, counting and fine motor skills. We also love its versatility,  as it is water safe so can also be used in the bath or at the beach. 

Galt Pop Up Toy

Credit: The Entertainer

10. Galt Pop Up Toy

Good for: Cognitive development| Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £10

Sometimes the simple toys are the best and we found this cute wooden pop up toy keeps little ones amused for ages. It features four colourful figures which bob up and down on concealed springs and has been designed to encourage hand and eye coordination and introduce colour awareness.

Mum Danielle tells us: “I'm using this to help my child develop colour matching skills. He finds the springy pegs funny. It's great to engage with a focused activity.”

Best toys for 18-month-olds: LeapFrog Musical Rainbow Tea Party

Credit: Amazon

11. LeapFrog Musical Rainbow Tea Party Set

Good for: Cognitive development and social skills | Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: Yes - 2 x AA (included) | RRP: £24.99

Little ones love imaginative play and this tea set is the perfect way for them to learn at the same time.

The set includes nine tea-time learning songs, and 80 phrases and sounds to help teach colours, opposites, counting and matching. The teapot lights up in five colours and gurgles as tea is ‘brewed’ inside. It’s a great set for role play and learning to take turns. 

Ruth explains: “As children are starting to act out familiar actions in play and beginning early symbolic play such as using toys or dolls, toys which support this are great for their development. For example, tea party cups and saucers or a play kitchen.” 

Wooden post box

Credit: John Lewis

12. Wooden Post Box

Good for: Fine motor skills and cognitive development | Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £16

If there’s one thing parents of toddlers will tell you they love doing, it’s posting things! So this adorable little post box had to make it onto our list of best toys for 18-month-olds.

As well as helping to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, this toy also inspires imaginative play. As children get older they’ll enjoy adding names to the front of the letters and writing the collection time on the box with chalk. Plus, when all of the letters are posted they can open up the box and start all over again!

PAW Patrol Chase Flip Up Pad

Credit: Argos

(Image credit: Argos)

13. PAW Patrol Chase Flip Up Pad

Good for: Fine motor skills and cognitive development| Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: Yes, 2 x AAA (not included) | RRP: £15

If you have an 18-month-old in your house, the chances are you also have a PAW Patrol fan. The lovable crew of search and rescue dogs are always on a mission to protect Adventure Bay. Now Chase is on the case to help your little one learn their colours, numbers, shapes and objects. 

This compact light up smart pad includes four activities and Ryder asks lots of fun questions to encourage learning. As well as practising their auditory and problem solving skills, this toy also helps 18-month-olds to refine their fine motor skills as they press the correct buttons.

Dad Jon tells us: “My little boy loves hearing the catchphrases of his favourite PAW Patrol characters.”

JoJo Maman Bébé Wooden Digger Stacker

Credit: JoJo Maman Bébé

14. Wooden Digger Stacker

Good for: |Cognitive development Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £18

At 18 months children are beginning to develop their coordination skills and this classic stacking toy is perfect for problem-solving.

The push-along wooden digger is made from sturdy wood with a movable bucket, so it can also be used for imaginative play after being built. Our tiny tester loved putting the blocks on in different ways and pushing it along to the building site.

LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book

Credit: Smyths Toys

15. LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book

Good for: Cognitive and language development | Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: Yes - 2 x AA (included) | RRP: £19.99

An 18 month old's vocabulary will increase significantly over the next six months and this book is a great way to help reinforce new words. It follows learning friends Turtle, Tiger and Monkey as they introduce little readers to more than 100 age-appropriate words chosen by learning experts. 

Touching the words on the pages plays the words and provides fun facts. We also love that everything in the book including words, songs and instructions can be heard in both English and French for a full bilingual experience.

Ruth says: “Children of this age will begin to show a real interest in picture books and will start to turn the pages themselves.”

Best toys for 18-month-olds: Fisher Price Little People Construction Play Set

Credit: Amazon

16. Fisher-Price Little People Load Up ‘n Learn Construction Site

Good for: Cognitive development | Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: Yes - 2 x AA (included) | RRP: £32.99

When considering the best toys for 18-month-olds, it's worth looking for some which encourage imaginative play, while teaching little ones at the same time. 

The Load Up 'n Learn Construction Site is a perfect example. As well as transporting boulders in the crane and dumping them in the quarry, the construction site playset also includes a moving elevator.

The speed bump provides songs, sounds and phrases to introduce little ones to letters of the alphabet, counting, shapes, colours and opposites. The set includes a push-along dump truck, two construction worker figures and two boulders.

Bigjigs Animal Matching Peg Puzzle

Credit: Kidly

17. Bigjigs Animal Matching Peg Puzzle

Good for: Fine motor skills | Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £16

18 months is a great age to get little ones interested in jigsaws and this is a perfect introduction to puzzles. The chunky shapes and big handles are the ideal size for little hands and a good way to develop dexterity.

This design is also a simple way for toddlers to learn their colours and animal shapes and the puzzle has been designed to help improve concentration. Kirsty says: “Jigsaw puzzles are great for helping to develop problem-solving and memory skills.”

Mum Kate tells us: “The matching board is such beautiful quality. It’s so simple yet great fun for my girls to try and get the shapes in the spaces.”

My First Steiff Hoppie Rabbit

Credit: Steiff

(Image credit: Steiff)

18. My First Steiff Hoppie Rabbit

Good for: Social skills | Age suitability: From birth | Batteries required: No | RRP: £29.90

If you’re looking for an extra special toy for the 18-month-old in your life, this gorgeous My First Steiff Hoppie Rabbit is the perfect gift. Made of super soft plush, Hoppie Rabbit is sure to become a firm favourite for cuddles. Our little tester, 18-month-old Ted, absolutely loved stroking her long ears.

Hoppie Rabbit is 26cm long and has My first Steiff embroidered on her foot pad. She is available in pink, blue and pale grey. Plus, all parents will be pleased to hear that she is machine washable, so you don’t need to worry about how loved she is!   

JoJo Maman Bébé Sensory Blocks

Credit: JoJo Maman Bébé

19. Sensory Blocks

Good for: Fine motor skills and cognitive development | Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £22

These sensory blocks are a great way to ensure your little one's senses are gently stimulated to aid with their development as they grow. They’re perfectly sized for little hands and are easy to stack.

The fun set comes with 13 wooden pieces in different shapes and primary colours. Each block features different points of interest for children to explore, from a mirror and moving beads to a kaleidoscope and little bells. They can also be stored in a wooden box so it’s easy to pack away and keep tidy. 

Ruth says: “When thinking about the best toys for 18-month-olds, blocks are brilliant for developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. At around 18 months a child should be able to build a block of three cubes high.” 

Melissa & Doug Barnyard Tumble

Credit: Melissa & Doug

(Image credit: Melissa & Doug)

20. Melissa & Doug Go Tots Wooden Barnyard Tumble

Good for: Fine and gross motor skills | Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £37.99

At 18 months old, little ones love to start investigating the world around them and this Melissa & Doug Go Tots Barnyard Tumble is a great way for them to explore cause and effect. As well as encouraging imaginative play, this cute set helps to build fine and gross motor skills.

The farm includes six animal and two farmer wooden disks which can be posted down the silo, out the barn door, over the haystack and into the trough. The barn also has a sturdy handle on the top so it can be carried around. 

Cocomelon Bedtime JJ Doll

Credit: Bandai UK

(Image credit: Bandai UK)

Good for: Social skills | Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: Yes - 3 x AAA (included) | RRP: £29.99

21. Cocomelon Bedtime JJ Doll

Cocomelon fans will love this soft plush toy inspired by JJ. Wearing his cute onesie and clutching his favourite teddy bear, JJ is ready for bed. This is a great toy to talk to your 18-month-old about bedtime routines and also sings the “Yes Yes Bedtime” song. Plus JJ has seven sounds and phrases your little one can chat along with.

Grandma Sandy tells us: “My granddaughter loves Cocomelon and this did not disappoint! She carries it everywhere and has to have it at bedtime, I would definitely recommend it.”

Big Steps Play Old MacDonald Tractor & Trailer

Credit: Smyths Toys

22. Big Steps Old MacDonald Tractor & Trailer

Good for: Cognitive and auditory development | Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: Yes - 3 x AA (included) | RRP: £16.99 

As little ones become more aware of nursery rhymes, they'll love this Old MacDonald Tractor and Trailer. It comes with a little farmer and five animals to encourage small world play. 

As children press each character into their place in the trailer they will hear fun animal sounds which help with recognition. The tractor also makes realistic engine sounds as it’s pushed along, encouraging little ones to practise their motor skills.

Woodlets Shape Sorter

Credit: The Entertainer

23. Woodlets Shape Sorter

Good for: Cognitive development and fine motor skills | Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £16

At the age of 18 months, children are starting to find ways to order things, which is why a shape sorter is such a great toy. This bright colourful design helps little ones to learn colours and identify shapes as they work to put the pieces in the correct holes. 

As well as having fun, this toy is also teaching them important problem solving and hand-eye coordination skills.

Lovevery The Pioneer Play Kit

Credit: Lovevery

(Image credit: Lovevery)

24. Lovevery The Pioneer Play Kit

Good for: Cognitive development and fine motor skills | Age suitability: 16,17,18 months | Batteries required: No | RRP: £120

Our favourite thing about the Lovevery Play Kit is that it takes all of the guess-work out of present buying. This unique kit has been created specifically for 16, 17 and 18-month-olds and all of the contents have been chosen to help them develop specific skills they will be working on at this age.

The Pioneer Play Kit includes a race and chase ramp to explore motion, a garden puzzle to practice pincer grasp and a fuzzy buzzy tree with velcro critters to improve coordination. There is also a threadable bead kit to encourage using both hands to complete a task and a wooden stacking peg board to practice fitting small objects into small spaces. Finally there is a board book “Max and Nana go to the Park” which helps little ones to learn about processing and managing emotions. We also love that the Play Kit comes with a Play Guide for parents which explains the “why” and “how” behind each item. It also provides quick and easy ways to keep your child learning through play.

Mum Emily tells us: “The Play Kit is perfect for busy parents who want to ensure that their children are learning appropriate skills for their age. My 18-month-old loves all of the activities in there and I love that I know that everything has been developed for his age, so I don’t need to go off and do loads of research of my own.”

Janod wooden camera

Credit: Janod

(Image credit: Janod)

25. Janod Wooden Sound Camera

Good for: Cognitive development and social skills  | Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: Yes, 2 x LR44 1.5V (included) | RRP: £14.99

Toddlers love to imitate the world around them and most will be no stranger to taking part in a photoshoot or two! So this lovely Janod Wooden Sound Camera allows them to get behind the lens and pretend to take their own pictures.

Little ones will love to hear the sound of the shot being taken as they press the shutter release button. Plus, they can look out for the flash that follows. There’s also a cute kaleidoscope viewfinder which transforms with different shapes and colours.

Something we really appreciated for little 18-month-old hands is the removable silicone shell, which helps them to have a better grasp hold of the toy.

Buying the best toys for 18-month-olds

Before buying a toy for your little one, think about what they currently enjoy doing and which skills they are trying to practise. As this is such a significant age milestone, the best toys for 18-month-olds are ones that support their development, while entertaining at the same time. 

Whatever you're looking for, hopefully, this list of the best toys for 18-month-olds will help to make your search an easy one.

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