Best toys for 18 month olds 2024: 33 age-appropriate toys to support their development as they reach important milestones

The best toys for 18 month olds are items that keep your little learner learning, developing and, of course — having fun.

Collage showing the best toys for 18 month olds, including dolls, balls, wooden toys, sensory toys, play tents and more
(Image credit: Future)

We’ve rounded up the best toys for 18-month-olds that are fun and seriously engaging for this age group.

The grand old age of 18 months comes with some pretty big developmental milestones. Most little ones have mastered how to walk, they're climbing and jumping and more, so the best toys for 18-month-olds are items that help them perfect these life skills. For example, stacking and nesting toys can help your infant develop their fine motor skills and are good for cognitive development and problem-solving. Toys designed for this age also help to close the gap between the best toys for 1-year-olds and the best toys for 2-year-olds.

To guide you through the process, we've trawled cyberspace to find the best toys for 18-month-olds from a range of retailers including the likes of Amazon, Mamas and Papas and John Lewis. With prices starting from £10, there's something for everyone. We've also spoken to experts and read studies to explain the kind of play and toys an 18-month-old needs, as well as the benefits toys can have on children of this age.

Best toys for 18-month-olds 

Why you can trust GoodtoKnow. Our experienced Consumer Editor & parent reviewers spend hours testing products to help you make the best choice. Find out how we test and review products.

Sensory toys

Sensory toys are perfect for babies and toddlers (and beyond). These toys are specifically designed to stimulate the five senses, so think fun textures for curious fingers to explore, bright and high contrast colours and toys that make a whole host of interesting sounds.

Engaging in sensory play offers a whole host of benefits, from improving fine motor skills and problem-solving skills to promoting independent thinking and aiding language development.

Push-along toys

Whether pushing along from a standing or crawling position, push along toys offer a whole host of benefits for your little one. According to wooden toy retailer Erenjoy, push toys help to build muscles and boost coordination, encourage spatial awareness and problem-solving, while also encouraging creative play. Phew!

Stacking Toys and Shape Sorters

At 18 months children are beginning to develop their coordination skills, so stacking, nesting and shape sorting toys make great additions to the toy box.

According to a study, up until the age of two, children start to explore objects in relation to other objects - which is key to their cognitive development, and so having to stack or nest objects, or push shapes through the right openings is a perfect way to develop their skills.

These types of toys are also brilliant for developing a child's fine motor skills as they give their grabbing and pincer movements a work out. They're hand-eye coordination will also improve as they successfully stack or sort the objects.

Educational toys

Studies show that learning through play is essential to your child's development and that educational toys help to foster cognitive thinking and problem solving. They can also be really useful toys to aid colour, number and shape recognition and boost language skills too. To get the most from educational toys, make sure you choose one that is age appropriate.

Dolls & Plush Toys

Soft toys and dolls have been staples in toy boxes for generations - and for good reason. Not only can they provide a comfort, but they can also be great when it comes to imaginative play.

Early years practitioner Kirsty Ketley, from Auntie K’s Childcare 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!'

Musical toys

Musicality can start to develop in the womb, so it's no wonder musical toys are such a hit with babies and toddlers. According to one study, from the age of 12 months, children are 'increasingly able to express themselves musically' through rudimentary dancing, and by 18 months, they might be showing signs of differentiating between speaking and singing - although they're a little way off from following a tuneful melody.

Wooden toys

When your child is 18 months old, they've likely not yet discovered the vast array of plastic toys available so if you can still get away with more design-conscious and planet-friendly options. (You might also want to read our article on whether wooden toys are better than plastic toys).

Not only are these wooden toys fun to play with and offer the same developmental benefits as plastic alternatives, they can also double up as adorable decor in your little one's bedroom or play room when not in use.

Puzzles and Games

By 18 months old, your little one might be ready to enjoy some simple puzzles or games as part of their play time. As well as being good for cognitive development, games can help teach kids about turn-taking and boost their social skills too.

When it comes to jigsaws, Kirsty Ketley, from Auntie K’s Childcare, says: “Jigsaw puzzles are great for helping to develop problem-solving and memory skills.”

Outdoor toys

Having fun outdoors, especially when the weather is good, is so fun for 18 month olds. Not only does it encourage activity and offer a screen-free way to spend some time, but all that fresh air can help your tiny human sleep well at night.

Interactive books

When it comes to interactive books for babies and toddlers, there is loads of choice available. The three we've picked here are tried and tested by GoodtoKnow's Editor Anna Bailey who bought them for her daughter Freddie, and both give them a massive thumbs up.

Pop-up play tents, tunnels and pits

Pop-up toys are great because they are assembled in seconds and fold down just as quickly to almost nothing for super easy storage. But when they are up, they are super eye catching and enticing for kiddos. Whether it's a fun tunnel for them to crawl through, a tent they can turn into a den, or their very own ball pit, there's no doubting the pop-ularity of pop-up toys.

What kind of play does an 18 month old need?

Children need to engage in different types of play to support the development, and this is no different for infants when they reach the pivotal age of 18-months-old.

At this age, they might be starting to play independently, will adore sensory play and unleash their imagination by role playing and engaging in pretend play. As their gross motor skills develop, physical play might come to the fore, while 18 month olds can also start to engage in cooperative play, where they will learn important social skills.

What kind of toys do 18 month olds play with?

As you can see from our list above, there are a vast array of toys that are perfect for this age, from sensory objects and dolls to musical toys and interactive books. Nicole Ratcliffe, at Baby 2 Sleep, explains that toys that help little ones learn about emotions can be really helpful. "This allows mum or dad to spend one-to-one time with their little one, role play emotions and teach them ways to help them communicate how they are feeling.

"Blocks and stackers are also brilliant. Music for dancing, pop-up tunnels, and obstacles around the house can be great too. They love things that may be noisy, colourful and interactive, and things that challenge them.”

Why are toys important for a toddler's development?

According to studies, toys and games play a very important role in a child's development, contributing to the development of their cognitive, motor, psychosocial, emotional and linguistic skills. Through play, children learn to communicate with others, discovering how to take turns, share, control their emotions, follow rules and solve problems. Beyond that toys also play a key role in raising happy, creative and self confident children too.

How we chose the best toys for 18 month olds

We compiled this list of the best toys for 18 months olds based on our extensive research and product knowledge, as well as our own personal experience or the experience of other mums and infants.

We also spoke to experts, and took into consideration star ratings and customer reviews to ensure we were sharing the best toys around for you to consider for your 18-month-old. As we commit to sharing more sustainable products with you, we also chose wooden products where possible too.

Continue reading

Consumer Writer & Money Editor, GoodtoKnow

Sarah is GoodtoKnow’s Consumer Writer & Money Editor - which means she writes about everything from this year's top toys and the newest toy releases, to discounts on days out and childcare costs. Sarah is passionate about helping mums save money wherever they can - whether that's spending wisely on the right toys and kidswear or keeping on top of the latest news around child benefit, the motherhood penalty. A writer, journalist and editor with more than 15 years' experience, Sarah is all about the latest toy trends and is always on the look out for toys for her nephew or Goddaughters so that she remains one of their favourite grown ups. When not writing about money or best buys, Sarah can be found hanging out with her rockstar dog Pepsi, getting opinionated about a movie or learning British Sign Language. 

With contributions from