Encourage your toddler’s independent spirit with these outdoor activities for 18 month olds, from toys to places to go with your little one!
The weather has been warming up, you’ve been cooped up all season—whatever the reason, you and your 18 month old are ready to head outdoors.
Except you can’t seem to keep him interested for too long in one activity before he’s fussy for another one. As much as he loves going outside, you’re also running out of ideas, bored with the same ones you’ve been doing.
Perhaps you’re a first-time mom, worried you’re not doing something you should be doing to help his growth and development. And sometimes you simply need to break the rut you find yourself in—as much as you “know” what to do, having a list can give you fresh ideas.
Outdoor activities for 18 month olds
The early toddler stage is a perfect time to explore the outdoors, from as simple as your backyard to an outing to the beach.
That said, 18 month olds are notorious for having a short attention span and throwing a fit. They’re also transitioning to one nap a day. While this opens up options for the day, you’re also dealing with erratic schedules that can leave him cranky and tired.
And of course, toddlers come with a slew of necessities to pack, like snacks to eat and diapers to change. An outing just can’t seem to be as simple as you hope.
Rest assured, you can take advantage of being outdoors with him. After three kids and talking to other moms, I’ve listed the best outdoor activities for 18 month old toddlers. I share fun toys you can play with in your own home, to the best places to go with him to relish the outdoors.
Let’s start with activities you can do right at home, then on to those in your local neighborhood, and finally, destination outings. I hope you find a few inspiring ideas to do with your little one:
Free printables: Want ideas on what to do with your little one? Grab your printable calendar of fun and simple play activities! Check them off as you go along, or use the blank template to add your own ideas. Join my newsletter and download your copy below—at no cost to you:
Outdoor activities to do at home
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- Art activities. The outdoors is the perfect place to do artsy stuff you normally do indoors—especially messy ones. For instance, you can paint on rocks or glue construction paper outside. Check out these arts and crafts for 1 year olds.
- Car wash. Bring out a tub of water or the kiddie pool and let your toddler wash his toy cars, or anything water-safe. He can scrub plastic or rubber toys with a sponge or brush—and use bubble bath to make it extra fun.
- Sand or water table. Does he love sensory activities? A sand or water table is a simple set up at home that allows him to play with different textures. You can combine sand play with beach toys like a shovel and pail. Don’t feel confined to sand or water, either. Dried oats, rice, or beans work well, as does combining dirt and water for mud play.
- Play with balls. Bring out different types of balls to play catch or kick around outside. Set up the basketball hoop or the golf set for a fun game together.
- Gardening. Bring him with you as you do simple gardening tasks, like deadheading flowers or pulling weeds. Include him in planting vegetable seeds (larger seeds are easier to hold) and watering. Check out these children’s books about gardening.
- Sidewalk chalk. Bring a box of chalk to scribble outside, whether on the sidewalk or on your driveway.
- Paint with water. Take a bowl of water and a large paintbrush, and have him “paint” the sidewalk or driveway with water.
- Chores. Hand him a child-size broom to sweep the patio, or organize your backyard together.
- Bubbles. Whether small bottles or a bubble machine, no toddler can resist chasing and popping bubbles!
- Water squirters. Dress him in swim clothes and squirt water at each other! You can also fill up water balloons and toss them for a wet game of catch.
Outdoor activities in the neighborhood
- Park or playground. The park is a simple way to get outdoors with your 18 month old. Go on the slides or swings and run on the grass. Gather pine cones and leaves, or pack a picnic and spend hours in the park. Take advantage of the many things to do at your local park and playground.
- Walk around the block. The simplest things can catch his attention, from the ladybug on a leaf to colors and shapes he loves to point out. This can even be a daily ritual to wind down at the end of the day, or to start your mornings off.
- Swimming pool. Once the weather is hot, bring him to the local pool. You might have one right at home, or in your community or city. Introduce him to the pool now so he gets used to it at an early age.
- Hiking. Visit your local hiking trails and explore nature. Rather than trying to complete a whole trail, set your timer and go as far as you’re able to before making your way back.
Out and about outdoors
- Zoo. The zoo is a great excuse to see animals and enjoy the outdoors. Go early to avoid crowds, and to make it back in time to nap.
- Botanic garden. Check out your local botanic garden or arboretum, which offers plenty of space to explore.
- Farm. Look around for a nearby farm for activities like strawberry picking or animal feeding and petting. Check out these children’s books about farms.
- Animal rescue center. Visit an animal rescue center to meet different animals, from sloths to parrots and tortoises.
- Beach or lake. Do you live near the water? Spend time at the beach with your little one. Keep it simple—you may not even need swimwear if you’re, say, picnicking or walking along the beach. Check out these beach essentials for your toddler.
- Children’s museums. Many kids museums include an outdoor area to run around and explore.
- Small amusement park. Carnival-type amusement parks are perfect for little toddlers who can go on the smaller rides or play booth games.
Get more tips:
- Need Outdoor Activities to Do with Your 1 Year Old? Start Here.
- Easy Gross Motor Activities for 1 Year Olds
- Evening Activities for Toddlers
- 31 Activities for 1 Year Olds
- Transitioning to a Toddler Bed at 18 Months
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab your printable calendar of fun and simple play activities below—at no cost to you: