Best toys for 18 month olds 2021: gifts they’ll love as they reach important milestones

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  • 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? 

    You might have been browsing the top Christmas toys in search of inspiration, scrolling through the best toys for 1-year-olds or even thinking ahead to the best toys for 2-year-olds 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

    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, most children will have mastered walking at 18 months and will be learning to jump and climb. 

    She says: “These skills require balance and so a scooter or balance bike are great toys to have.

    “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, 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.

    Best toys for 18-month-olds: Bammax Balance Bike

    Credit: Amazon

    1. Bammax Balance Bike

    Age suitability: 10 months + | Batteries required: No

    As toddlers become more confident in their movement, they’ll be eager to practise their balancing and this is a perfect first bike to get started on.

    The double wheels at the front and back mean that its very stable and can be used both indoors and outdoors.

    Our little tester took to it immediately and was scooting forwards and backwards in no time.

    The great thing about this balance bike is that it will make the transition to a traditional bike much easier when the time comes.

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £47.99

    Baby Einstein Hape Magic Touch Piano

    Credit: JoJo Maman Bébé

    2. Baby Einstein Hape Magic Touch Piano 

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: Yes – 3 x AA (included) 

    This beautiful wooden piano with 11 colourful touch keys is a great first musical instrument for little ones.

    This is a toy that can be used by different aged children. It comes with five music sheets that play 10 melodies when inserted. So younger ones 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 said: “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.”  

    VIEW AT JOJO MAMAN BEBE | £30

    My First Wooden Stacking Rings

    Credit: John Lewis

    3. My First Wooden Stacking Rings

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    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 said: “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. 

    VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS | £12

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

    Credit: Kidly

    4. Dozy Dinkum Doll

    Age suitability: Newborn + | Batteries required: No 

    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!”

    VIEW AT KIDLY | £35

    Vtech Spin And Learn Colours Torch

    Credit: Boots

    5. VTech Spin and Learn Colours Torch

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: Yes – 2 x AAA (included)

    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 said: “This is a brilliant little torch with a few different modes. It kept an 18 month old busy for ages.”

    VIEW AT BOOTS | £15

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

    Credit: Smyths Toys

    6. Lego Duplo Number Train

    Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: No 

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

    VIEW AT SMYTH’S TOYS | £14.99

    Daball Animal Themed Ball

    Credit: Amazon

    7. Daball Animal Themed Balls

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    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 comes with a pump to inflate it and received great reviews. 

    One parent said: “My toddler loves this ball! We gave it to her at 17 months and she liked it then and even more now at 23 months. It’ll be a hit in our house for a long time.”

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £12.99

    JoJo Maman Bébé Push Along Pram

    Credit: JoJo Maman Bébé

    8. Push-along Toy Pram

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    Now that toddlers are starting to play pretend, it’s the perfect time to introduce a toy pram. 

    This wooden pram 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. 

    VIEW AT JOJO MAMAN BEBE | £59

    Tiny Love Spiral Cups

    Credit: Mamas & Papas

    9. Tiny Love Spiral Cups Bath Toy

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    These spiral cups will provide hours of fun at bath time. 

    The five colourful cups each have a different rain-like sprinkle effect to encourage interactive play and imagination. 

    Filling them up and pouring them out will also help to develop your little one’s motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

    VIEW AT MAMAS & PAPAS | £9.99

    Galt Pop Up Toy

    Credit: The Entertainer

    10. Galt Pop Up Toy

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    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 said: “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.”

    VIEW AT THE ENTERTAINER | £10

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

    Credit: Amazon

    11. LeapFrog Musical Rainbow Tea Party Set

    Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: Yes – 2 x AA (included) 

    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 says: “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.” 

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £10.99

    Wooden post box

    Credit: John Lewis

    12. Wooden Post Box

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    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.

    One mum reviewer said: “My toddler received this as a Christmas gift and loves posting the letters. It’s a good size and is lovely quality.”

    VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS | £16.99

    Playmobil AQUA Water Slide

    Credit: Boots

    13. Playmobil Aqua Water Slide

    Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: No 

    This water slide playset helps promote fine motor and cognitive skills. It includes an interactive water play feature and comes with a ladle, which can be used to pour water onto the slide. 

    It also comes with two figures and all of the pieces are large and colourful, so ideal for small hands.

    This is the perfect choice for little ones who love water play and getting their hands wet.

    VIEW AT BOOTS | £14.99

    JoJo Maman Bébé Wooden Digger Stacker

    Credit: JoJo Maman Bébé

    14. Wooden Digger Stacker

    Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: No 

    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.

    VIEW AT JOJO MAMAN BEBE | £16

    LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book

    Credit: Smyths Toys

    15. LeapFrog Learning Friends 100 Words Book

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: Yes – 2 x AA (included) 

    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.

    The book 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 sound effects and also provides fun facts.

    We also loved 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.”

    VIEW AT SMYTH’S TOYS | £16.99

    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

    Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: Yes – 2 x AA (included) 

    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.

    One mum said: “My son has had hours of fun playing with this. The sounds are fun and engaging and he loves moving the boulders around and playing with the figures.”

    VIEW AT AMAZON | £29.99

    Bigjigs Animal Matching Peg Puzzle

    Credit: Kidly

    17. Bigjigs Animal Matching Peg Puzzle

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    18 months is a great age to get little ones interested in jigsaws and this is a perfect introduction to puzzles. 

    Kirsty says: “Jigsaw puzzles are great for helping to develop problem-solving and memory skills.”

    The chunky shapes and big handles are the perfect size for little hands and a great 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. 

    Mum Kate said: “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. They love playing with the chunky animals.”

    VIEW AT KIDLY | £15

    Best toys for 18-month-olds: Fisher Price Laugh & Learn So Big Puppy

    Credit: Boots

    18. Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn So Big Puppy

    Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: Yes – 2 x AA (included) 

    Created to promote active learning, this super-sized puppy is sure to become your little one’s new best friend.

    It features motion-activated songs, sounds and phrases to encourage toddlers to practise their gross motor skills by jumping, skipping and dancing. 

    We also liked that this toy will offer children of different ages the chance to learn new things, as it’s light-up belly plays 90 songs, sounds and phrases, which help them to learn the alphabet and how to count.  

    One parent reviewer described it as “a great interactive toy”.

    VIEW AT BOOTS | £34.99

    JoJo Maman Bébé Sensory Blocks

    Credit: JoJo Maman Bébé

    19. Sensory Blocks 

    Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: No 

    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. 

    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’re perfectly sized for little hands and are easy to stack.

    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.” 

    VIEW AT JOJO MAMAN BEBE | £22

    Early Learning Centre Wooden Animal Train Set

    Credit: The Entertainer

    20. Early Learning Centre Wooden Animal Train Set

    Age suitability: 18 months + | Batteries required: No 

    This is a lovely little train set for toddlers who are starting to push vehicles around by themselves.

    We liked that this one offers a more unusual design, with magnetic animals rather than trains to race around the track.

    This is a great set for little ones to work on their fine motor skills while feeding their imaginations.

    The chunky wooden pieces are easy for small hands to hold and join together too.  

    One mum said: “We got this for our son when he was about 18 months and now at 3, along with his 2-year-old sister, he still plays with it.”

    VIEW AT THE ENTERTAINER | £23

    Classic World Paddling Pull Along Duck

    Credit: Kidly

    21. Classic World Paddling Pull Along Duck

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    Once little ones are steady on their feet they’ll love to practise their gross motor skills by pulling something along behind them.

    This super cute pull-along with mummy duck and two babies has uneven wheels which make them waggle their bodies when it’s pulled. 

    It would also look sweet displayed on a shelf or in a nursery.

    Mum Natalie said: “It’s a lovely simple wooden toy that is a lot of fun. It’s so easy to use and pulls along really smoothly on different surfaces.”

    VIEW AT KIDLY | £19

    Big Steps Play Old MacDonald Tractor & Trailer

    Credit: Smyths Toys

    22. Big Steps Old MacDonald Tractor & Trailer

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: Yes – 3 x AA (included) 

    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.

    VIEW AT SMYTH’S TOYS | £16.99

    Woodlets Shape Sorter

    Credit: The Entertainer

    23. Woodlets Shape Sorter

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    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.

    VIEW AT THE ENTERTAINER | £15

    Skip Hop Fox Xylophone

    Credit: Mamas & Papas

    24. Skip Hop Fox Xylophone

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    This cheerful little fox xylophone inspires early musical creativity with eight colourful keys.

    Toddlers will love taping out each note to create a tune. Plus, the mallet is attached so parents don’t have to spend their time hunting for it!

    Helps develop fine motor skills fox bobs up and down attached mallet encourages walkers to make music anywhere.

    VIEW AT MAMAS & PAPAS | £20

    Best toys for 18-month-olds: Scrunch bucket

    Credit: John Lewis

    25. Scrunch Silicone Bucket & Spade Set with Frisbee

    Age suitability: 12 months + | Batteries required: No 

    We love how easy this scrunch bucket makes trips to the beach and visits to the park.

    Forget bulky, hard plastic buckets that break and take up space, the scrunch bucket is made from silicone which can be folded or rolled up for easy transportation.

    Little ones will enjoy digging in the sand and making sandcastles with the bucket and spade. Plus, the frisbee is a fun extra addition to work on their throwing and catching skills.

    Our little tester spent hours carrying everything from seawater and sand to beach treasure finds in hers. So it simply had to make our list of best toys for 18-month-olds

    VIEW AT JOHN LEWIS | £16.99

    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.