21 best toys for 18-month-olds to boost their development

best toys for 18-month-olds

by Lily Anderson |
Updated on

It's no secret that babies are developing at record speed during 12-18 months. Luckily, there are some great toys that can help your little one learn through play as they grow from babyhood to toddlerhood and the terrific two's.

Toddlers' brains are growing at a rapid rate. Motor skills are advancing. Balance is getting better. Speech is fast becoming coherent and adorable. So, ideally, you'd like them to play with toys that can aid their development.

The best toys for 18-month-olds at a glance:

Best interactive unicorn toy: Vtech Electronic Toot-toot Friends Magical Unicorn - Buy now on Amazon UK

Best interactive till toy: Leapfrog Count Along Till - Buy now on Amazon UK

Best Peter Rabbit playset: Orange Tree Toys Peter Rabbit Play Set - Buy now on Amazon UK

Best learning vacuum toy: Fisher-Price Laugh Light-up Learning Vacuum - Buy now on Amazon UK

A favourite toy could be played with daily and perfect on train journeys or road trips. A good trick is to operate the toys on a rotational basis. Hiding some and giving them others to play with. Swapping them over weekly to keep their interest fresh.

And with a range of toys to choose from, including some that are fun and educational, we've collected the best of them below.

Best interactive unicorn toy

Vtech Electronic Toot-toot Friends Magical Unicorn
Price: $63.71

This is an interactive toy that encourages your tot to follow it around. It has sensory details and encourages the development of fine motor skills and imagination. One of our testers described it as a "showstopper".

Read our full Vtech Electronic Toot-Toot Friends Magical Unicorn review

Pros

  • Moves on its own and lights up

Cons

  • The buttons are pretty stiff for little ones to use

Best interactive till toy

Leapfrog Count Along Till
Price: $21.99
Alternative retailers
Walmart$34.97View offer

Fun and educational, this till is aimed at helping little ones with their counting skills. Our testers found it helped their children learn colours, counting, and general number work, and that it kept them occupied for a decent amount of time.

Review: "Bought this till for my granddaughter & she loves it. I thought it was a quality product at a fantastic price."

Read our full Leapfrog Count Along Till review

Pros

  • Introduces little ones to the concept of money

Cons

  • It's quite easy for the coins to get stuck down the back of the till

Best Peter Rabbit playset

A sweet wooden toy playset, based on Mr McGregor's garden. It includes all the pieces to create the perfect garden as well as Beatrix Potter favourites, Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddledock and more. Our testers agreed it felt built-to-last and was easy to wipe clean.

Review: "Lovely Peter Rabbit garden set - we created mr Mcgregor’s garden with the miniature carrots & cabbages, wheel barrow & watering can. Peters friends are adorable & lovely and chunky for little hands. Some parts but small for my 19m but I’ll just remove those until she’s a bit bigger. We’ve been reading the book & watching the film so this is perfect for play ideas & Easter. We love orange tree toys."

Read our full Orange Tree Toys Peter Rabbit Play Set review

Pros

  • Made from FSC® certified wood, 100 per cent recyclable packaging

Cons

  • Some parents thought the storage facility could be better, some parts are a bit small for younger toddlers

Best learning vacuum toy

Fisher Price Laugh Light-up Learning Vacuum

Rrp: $24.99

Price: $19.97
Alternative retailers
Walmart$19.97View offer
Macy's$19.99View offer

Fisher-Price's push toy vacuum has it all - music, lights, and phrases to encourage your baby to push and play. Flip the switch “on” for vacuum sounds and “off” for learning songs and phrases. Your child can role play as they "help" you tidy up, and be learning while they play. The songs and phrases introduce counting, colours, shapes, opposites, and more. As your baby pushes the vacuum here, there and everywhere, they are developing important gross motor skills like balance and coordination.

Review: "This is a wonderful little toy, bought it for me baby daughter, she loves it, solid, sturdy, looks well built, lights up beautifully, comes with the battery so another headache removed, lots of nice little kiddy songs, overall really great product, highly recommend."

Pros

  • Perfect for kids that like to copy what their parents are doing

Cons

  • If your tot is on the taller side, this may be too short for them to comfortably push around (it's about 45cm/17 inches when upright)

Best interactive dog toy

Dr Pooch helps your tot learn how to dress themselves, whilst giving them a cuddly companion to look after. Our mums loved the friendly pup who helps with the development of motor skills.

Review: "Good quality, beautiful colours, my 3yr old daughter loves holding it while sleeping. she’s got the hang of tying a lace in a few mins and is really happy with it. But I think I should have bought it for her much earlier. Maybe when she was two. Now it’s a big beautiful soft toy for her as she’s got the hang of most of the skills of dressing up."

Read our full Edushape Dr. Pooch review

Pros

  • Teaches skills like buttoning clothes and how to tie shoes

Cons

  • His large size means he's not really a transportable pooch

Best snap-based game

Although it's for ages two and up, this is a fun, snap-based game that can help your toddler use problem-solving skills to match cards with adult supervision. Help your tot find the matching pair of wellies, from zig zag tiger print to spots and hearts. Our mums thought it was a good game to encourage tots to take turns and share, and their tots loved playing the game.

Review: "I bought this game with my 2 year old in mind. The concept of the game is very easy to pick up, basically matching pairs of wellies on monsters! I like how it can also be adapted for different ages. For example whilst my daughter is quite young, she enjoyed putting the monster boards together as they are nice simple 3 piece jigsaws, then she gave 2 of the boards to her teddy's so we could use all the pieces and then we just had to match the wellies to the right place as we turned them over! As she has got older, she is getting better at putting the pieces back when they don't match hers! Each welly is also backed with either green or red which is good to help starting to learn about left and right shoes too! All in all we think its a great colourful silly game."

Read our full Orchard Toys Smelly Wellies review

Pros

  • Develops matching and memory skills

Cons

  • Might be best for slightly older toddlers

Best interactive dragon toy

This cute dragon is made from super soft plush which will be a perfect playmate in a world of adventures and imagination. It has sound and light effects and it will guide children into the discovery of lots of educational content. There are many nursery rhymes and funny phrases to keep your child entertained.

Review: "Dragons are a favourite in our household so we bought this little fella. It’s very educational not that he understands yet but it talks about the 4 elements, says a song about mum, mumma and dad,daddy aswell as nan …
The songs aren’t bad either not whiny and you end up singing along with it. Has 2 volume settings at the back.
He lights up too when he sings…. Definitely a good buy and a happy little boy too."

Pros

  • Helps to stimulate the development of manual dexterity, auditory skills and emotional maturation

Cons

  • Might be best for slightly younger toddlers

Best recommended puppy interactive toy

LeapFrog My Pal Scout and Violet
Price: $40.90

The puppies talk, sing rhymes and songs, and teach little ones about numbers, letters, colours and even feelings. They can be personalised for your bubba too. You can teach either Scout or Violet your child's name and they will say it and spell it with your child.

Review: "My grandson loves this toy. He has had one at his house for just over a year and he goes everywhere with him. So I bought this one as a spare as he won't sleep without his pal. Theo is now 16 months old."

Read our full LeapFrog My Pal Scout and Violet review

Pros

  • Aids with developing little one's listening skills

Cons

  • Needs to be connected to a smart phone, tablet or computer to set it up

Best ice cream truck toy

While aimed at ages two and up, we think this is a lovely role-playing toy for both boys and girls for encouraging pretend play. The set includes 20 playing pieces for hours of open-ended play. Your child can use the magic ice cream scooper to learn about colours and numbers as they fill it with ice cream scoops and toppings. Six hungry character activity cards are included for more learning fun and mean it can be played independently as well as with friends and family.

Review: "Brought for a second birthday present, child loved it and everything else was left discarded whilst he made ice creams for 6 hours straight 😂Only buy if you’re prepared to eat fake ice creams for weeks on end."

Pros

  • Good investment toy that little ones will enjoy for years to come

Cons

  • One-year-olds may not fully appreciate all that it does

Kids will love the tactile wooden block pieces in this sweet colour sorting toy. The house design is adorable, and your tot will be able to learn to match colours, and develop their problem-solving and fine motor skills as they hit each piece in place with the hammer! The block set is made from chunky natural wood, so it's sturdy enough to take on a toddler.

Review: "Good packaging, nice box. The box has the photo of the toy on it. It is easy to assemble, and is quite straight forward to do so. There are many activities on this toy, such as hammering, xylophone, shapes and numbers inserting and much more. It's well made, and would make a perfect gift to give to a small child.."

Pros

  • Aids with hand-eye coordination development

Cons

  • Parents may grow weary of the sound of the hammer

Best unicorn ride-on toy

This Baby Clementoni Interactive Ride On Unicorn offers a whole range of play possibilities. This ride-on toy can be used for rocking, riding or as an activity centre. The electronic mane makes it an incredible educational activity centre to light up the imagination! It teaches children their ABCs, numbers, colours, animal names, noises and so much more, all with cheerful rhymes and songs. The unicorn also senses movement, activating realistic sounds and melodies for happy times rocking and riding.

Review: "This unicorn is so much fun ! My little one loves sitting on it and I love playing with her on it. It’s very sturdy and when it’s locked into the rocking rails it’s berry secure. I feel very happy that my little one is safe playing on this. There is 2 languages English and Spanish, and the voice is very soft but happy and exited which is a perfect for a child. The seat and handles are a good size and the wheels turn easily when moves along the floor. Definitely a good purchase and I recommend to others as you’ll have lots of fun with this and your little one."

Pros

  • Your child can learn animal names, colours and many new words in Spanish and English

Cons

  • Some reviews mention it being loud

Best learning and activity workbench

Clementoni Work Bench Learning and Activity Toy
Price: $24.69
Alternative retailers
Walmart$32.32View offer

An activity table with three tools – a hammer, a screwdriver and a wrench. With six accessories including bolts, nuts and screws, your toddler can learn to fit the pieces together on the workbench and puzzle solve. It also becomes a practical toolbox that little ones can carry, so great for on-the-go!

Review: "My almost 18 month toddler loves screwing and unscrewing the screws, they are perfect size for little hands. Although not expensive, but great toy!"

Pros

  • Promotes hand-eye coordination and manual skills

Cons

  • Not suitable for children under 10 months

Best interactive learning cube

Educational activity centre block toy

Rrp: $36.99

Price: $29.98
Alternative retailers
Walmart$31.99View offer

The interactive design of this toy encourages the use of language, motor, and cognitive skills; thus providing children with the right tools to enhance their learning. There's a different function button on all six sides; alphabets, numbers, colours, music, animal sounds and musical instruments.

Review: "Very entertaining toy for my baby boy. He enjoys tapping the cube and listening to the sounds/songs."

Pros

  • Has lots of different functions

Cons

  • Could have a more colourful and characterful look to it

Best Peppa Pig toy for boosting development

Peppa Pig Weebles Wind and Wobble Playhouse
Price: $54.10

There are lots of fun features to discover in the Peppa Pig Weebles Wind and Wobble Playhouse. Teaching cause and effect, your toddler will quickly learn to wind the handle to move the included Peppa Pig Weebles figure up, and then down the slide to land with a splash in the muddy puddle. Push Peppa on the swing and around the roundabout and although she will wobble as she goes, she'll never fall down.

Pros

  • Ideal toy for any Peppa Pig fans

Cons

  • Could include more characters as others have to be purchased separately

Best toy for learning about animals

Janod Magnetibook Educational Toy
Price: $19.99

For those vital first years of schooling, keep little minds active and inspired by their favourite animals with Janod’s Animal MagnetiBook. Self-contained in a tin the size of a book, the aim is to use the fun and easy-to-hold magnets to build an animal matching the one on the card, helping to support little ones with learning about their creatures great and small!

Review: "Very nice toy. Pieces are big enough and with every animal the same size so my 22-month-old gets the hang of it and you can mix up the animals. Recommended ++"

Pros

  • Has a box to keep everything together

Cons

  • Product specifications states best for three years

Best stacking toy

My First Totem
Price: $27.44

Trigger your child’s creativity with SmartMax My First Totem stacking toy. Build your own crazy totem, or complete one of the 24 challenges by making the funniest constructions. The extra-large SmartMax parts help young children safely discover the magic of magnetism. SmartMax My First Totem contains eight parts and 24 challenge cards and is suitable for children from 18 months. The My First Totem set consists of different magnetic blocks, funny shapes with sounds, characters with different emotions and different textures.

Review: "Really liked the idea of something a bit different for my one-year-old, this has been really well received...he plays with it daily along with another smartmax set. Really nice size for small hands, each piece has a different sound or textured part. My 4-year-old also really enjoys making different towers with them so will be buying the older sets too!"

Read our full My First Totem review

Pros

  • Can be used for free play when they're younger and can follow the challenges when they're older

Cons

  • Some children may get bored of building totems after a while

Does your little one love music? Perhaps they would benefit from a musical toy, particularly this piano mat. It promises hours of fun as they can stomp on the mat to make their own sound. It's got a two-sided design with different built-in sounds for your little one to get creative with.

Review: "I purchased this as a first birthday gift for my nephew. It is a well made product and kept him busy making sounds when pushing the various keys. He quickly realised that the keys made different sounds and was happy to use his play mat for an extended amount of time. I also noticed that he happily returns to the toy and looks for it in his toy box. Happy with my purchase."

Pros

  • Made from a soft fabric with an anti-slip surface

Cons

  • Some parent reviews thought the sounds it makes were a little on the loud side

Best wooden counting toy

Tender Leaf Toys Counting Carrots

Rrp: $27.99

Price: $24.28
Alternative retailers
Walmart$27.99View offer
Bloomingdale's$27.99View offer
Neiman Marcus$28.00View offer

Learning numbers has never been more fun than with Tender Leaf Toys' endearing Counting Carrots. You can teach your toddler or child to count to 10 with the numbered carrot rings, but they'll also spend ages amusing themselves sorting by colour, stacking for fun or feeding the super-cute white bunny. It's an open-ended delight that's a real treat to display on the shelf too.

Review: "Lovely traditional wooden toy. My 1 year old nephew loved it!"

Pros

  • Helps toddlers develop manual dexterity, numbers and shape recognition

Cons

  • Some parents wished the quality was better

FAQs

Children aged 12-24 months need stimulation. Toys that are brightly coloured and delight them with noises will help keep them busy and learning.

From ride-on toys to soft toys, look for toys for 18 months and up which encourage your tot to problem solve, and improve their motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

You might think that you have chosen the best baby toy and find that your child only plays with it for a few minutes and then discards it. Don't be disheartened; they have the attention span of a gnat at this age and tend to favour certain toys over others.

Why are toys important to toddler development?

Research shows that learning through play is an important part of a child's development. Educational toys can help develop problem-solving skills, and teach about conflict resolution and how cause and effect work. They also teach children about sharing, help develop their fine and gross motor skills and nurture their creativity and imagination.

What skills will playing with toys help develop?

When your child plays with more educational toys, they are building pre-academic skills. Here are just five of the skills that they build while playing with particular toys.

Physical dexterity

Swings, child-sized vehicles, and ride-on toys help build strength, confidence, and balance.

Creativity

Finger painting and colouring encourage artistic development, plus the fine motor skills required for writing.

Problem-solving

Nature-based activities, like digging in a sand pit, help your child become an experimenter and investigator. Building blocks, or anything your child can separate into groups, also encourages manipulation (good for motor-skill development) and categorisation.

Language development

Reading picture books together or playing with interactive toys that talk and listen are extremely important to building your little one's communication skills.

Social skills

Dolls and soft toys can be used to represent people and play out troubling emotions or situations.

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