This post is all about things to do with a 16 month old.
37 Things To Do With A 16-Month-Old
At around 16 months your little one is probably a confident walker. One who, if only possible, would follow you all day long and who doesn’t seem to be running out of energy and most certainly not out of curiosity. Here are 37 things to do with a 16-month-old that will keep them entertained and support their development.
Isn’t it so much fun to watch your baby grow, develop and explore the world?!
Each month, each stage brings changes with it. New interests and new skills.
With that being said I want to stress that every child is different and develops at their own pace.
Of course, if something specific is really worrying you, see a professional to make sure your little one gets all the support they need to grow healthy and happy.
Other than that, however, I’m a huge supporter of patience, trust, and letting your kiddo (and nature) do their thing.
I really encourage you to do your best and not compare your kids to others. One kid has more teeth, while another has more hair. One can run and jump, while the other will talk sooner. Our children will compare themselves to others enough in their lives, let’s not already start the comparison game for them at such a young age. Instead, let us do our best to let them be.
Be present with them, and make them feel safe and loved. Feed them healthy food and provide fun, guided activities ( no fancy toys needed). Let them be part of your daily tasks, conversate with them, read, dance, play and set boundaries. Let them smell flowers, play with mud, and breathe fresh air. Let them climb on the sofa and take all the pots out of the cabinets.
And do not worry, cause in a blink of an eye they will be talking, jumping, reading, and writing. What’s the rush…For now, enjoy the funny toddler chatter and adorable attempts to run or jump.
When it comes to toddler activities:
You don’t need expensive toys
You don’t need a lot of toys
Don’t worry about the age labels (limits) on toys and games too much– your kids might need more time to be able to do certain things or they might do them faster (safety hazards aside, of course).
I’ve noticed that my sons’ interests can grow really fast and change. One day I wanna talk to him about body parts and point to his ears etc. and he shows zero interest, and just a few days later ( for weeks) all he wants to do is point at body parts, of everyone, stuffed animals included and have me name them. So keep introducing things to your kid and go by what they respond to. Same with colors or animal sounds. Keep repeating and trying and trust me, you’ll know when they’re interested in it and ready to play certain games or do certain activities.
So with the activities listed below, don’t worry if your kid can’t do some of them or simply doesn’t feel like it. Or they may already be doing some of that stuff for weeks if not months.
37 Things To Do With A 16 Month Old
Many kids start practicing their dance moves before they even learn how to walk. Toddlers love music and your little one will definitely enjoy having a dance party.
At 16 months most toddlers are confident walkers, who are also learning to walk backward, spin around, run, and even attempt to jump. They will also practice their downward-facing dog, squats, and a bunch of other toddler moves. This will definitely be visible in their evolving dance moves and witnessing that is a pure pleasure. One you don’t want to miss out on.
#2 Read To Them
Reading is super beneficial to children of all ages. This is certainly true for one-year-olds whose language development is in full swing at 16 months old.
You might have noticed your little one babbling more and more, forming their own words or even being able to say a few new words correctly.
Kids at this age are able to follow directions and are becoming more and more willing and capable to repeat words after you.
Again, let your child develop their speaking skills at their own pace, however, make sure you’re offering all the support they need. So keep narrating your day, explain things to them, but also make sure you’re reading together. You’ll notice that your kiddo is more interested in books now. You might be able to read a whole story to them, but that isn’t necessary, you can stick to board books, choosing topics your child is currently interested in. This might be cars, body parts, fruit and vegetables, animals, etc.
There are so many books to choose from. One that I highly recommend, which my child absolutely loves since he was 6 months old, is the First 100 Board Book Box Set. Now at 17 months, he can say certain words and he points to the right picture when I ask him where is the/a… This set of books is great to introduce basic words like the names of fruits as well as to talk about animals and the sounds they make.
#3 Play Peek-a-boo
This beloved game is known to engage kids from the youngest age. Even though your kiddo might have “played it” already when he/she was only a few months old, they will take it to the next level at 16 months old. Initiating peek-a-boo games by covering their face with their hands but also by hiding under a blanket or behind a curtain.
#4 Pretend Play With Stuffed Animals – Feeding
Pretend play starts sometime after your kid turns one. Around 16 months your little one might start truly engaging with their toy animals, whether it’s hugging them or sharing their snack with them. Encourage role play as it fosters your child’s imagination and creativity. It helps with their language skills, motor skills as well as social skills.
#5 Teach Them Animal Sounds
At this point, your toddler is capable of recognizing several animals and associating them with the sounds they make.
You can use pictures of animals, toy animals, stuffed animals, magnet animals, or animal sound books to teach your kid animal names and sounds.
If you can, show them different versions of one kind of animal so they can truly start recognizing it. For instance, a lion in a book, a stuffed animal lion, and a video of a lion in the wild. Just use whatever you already have, you don’t have to turn your house into a zoo.
Kids learn by repetition and after a few weeks your kid will most likely be able to make their first few animal sounds when asked what sounds does a …make?
#6 Pretend Play With Toy Phone
I know kids younger than 16 months who love playing with their fake phones and having fake conversations.
Kids love to mimic us. My son doesn’t have a pretend phone yet so we haven’t been doing that, but if you’re someone who’s on the phone a lot your child will love to copy you and pick up imaginary phone calls. Use that to foster their social skills and language development.
#7 Wooden Toddler Puzzle
Wooden toddler-appropriate puzzles are great for your child’s physical and cognitive development. Whether it’s shapes, animals, or fruits and veggies, there’re endless options to choose from.
#8 Shape Sorter
Your child might be ready to play with a shape sorter. At first, they will definitely need your help but after a few times, they will most likely start figuring it out and develop the patience and determination to wiggle the shapes around until they fit where they’re supposed to.
Your child might be a ring stacking master by now, even though some stacking toys have age labels on them that say +18 months, which I find very surprising. You can help them start stacking cups if they lost interest in stacking tower toys, which I assume isn’t the case anyway.
#10 Counting On Fingers
Your child will probably not be able to count before they’re two years old but their understanding of numbers deepens before that. So you can definitely start introducing numbers by counting on fingers, teaching them their age, etc.
#11 Building Blocks
Sometimes we forget about the most classic activities for kids, especially with our youngest ones as they’re growing and changing so fast. One day they seem to show zero interest in a thing, the next they absolutely love it. This can be the case with building blocks. At 16 months old, your child might start stacking two or three (or more!) blocks on top of each other.
#12 Build A Fort
Kids love building, they love hiding, crawling, and being cozy and so your toddler will definitely love building a fort with you.
#13 Go For A Walk
I don’t think any comments are necessary here, it’s just more of a reminder. Your kiddo (and you) need fresh air.
From practicing walking on different surfaces, to smelling flowers, to collecting leaves, your toddler will love going for a walk with you.
Going for a walk will also give you plenty of opportunities to talk to your little one, point to things, explain, tell stories, ask questions, and so on. So you don’t have to come up with random topics or lessons, there are already plenty out there in the world.
#14 Painting With Water
Your child might still be too young to paint with actual paint. Painting with water is a way safer option. Whether it’s on a piece of colored paper or on your patio, whether with a sponge or with brushes, that’s up to you.
#15 Make Music
Let your toddler make music. Use shakers, a xylophone, a triangle, or pots. Whatever you have at home, I guarantee you your toddler can turn it into a musical instrument. If you do have an actual piano, violin, guitar, or whatever it might be that you’re playing don’t hesitate to introduce your little one to it.
Playing instruments will improve your child’s hand-to-eye coordination, perception of rhythm, as well as musical sensitivity and it will also sharpen their concentration. Besides, it’s simply fun!
#16 Practice Pouring Using Beans (Then Water)
Let your toddler practice not only drinking out of a cup but also pouring liquids from one container to another. A great way to go about it is to use for instance beans and two plastic cups to start with. You can also start with water right away, especially if it’s warm enough for them to get wet and you don’t might the inevitable mess.
#17 Practice Using Different Kitchen Utensils
Similar to the activity above you also don’t need any special toys for this one. Simply let your kid use measuring cups, spoons, etc. and see their motor skills improve.
These are great for sensory bins which you can fill up with all sorts of things for them to scoop up, pour, and so on such as uncooked pasta, beans, little balls, water, or yogurt. Simply use what you already have at home and what might interest them. Just make sure it’s safe for them to play with and that they can’t choke on it.
I know parents who let their kids play with playdoh at a young age and their kiddo won’t put it in their mouth at all. Others prefer to only use edible things or ones that are too big to even fit in their kid’s mouth, so the choice is obviously yours. Be creative, yet put safety first.
#18 Nursery Rhymes
If you haven’t already make sure to introduce nursery rhymes. This will help with their language development.
#19 Teach Reading With The Doman Method
Teaching a 16-month-old, who can’t even say their name, to read. Sounds wild? Well, this method is aimed at kids even younger than that!
If you know, you know. But if you haven’t heard of the Doman method before, look it up. Maybe it’s something that would spark your interest and the sooner you start using it, the better.
Basically, you teach your kid to read from an early age (the sooner the better) by showing them flashcards with words.
There is a whole strategy behind it that tells you what kinds of words to introduce and when. How many flashcards per day? How big the cards and the words on them should be, and so on.
#20 Daily Chores
No, don’t give your 16-month-old toddler a list of chores and allowance for completing them. However, do include them in your daily household activities as much as possible. Let your toddler help you with loading up the washing machine, picking out their clothes, putting toys away, etc. You might be surprised how much they’ll enjoy it and even how good they’ll get at it!
#21 Let Them Help With Meal Preparation
For you, it might be just mixing or adding salt. For them, it can be a fun and exciting activity.
You’re doing it anyway, so why come up with special activities for them to do while you cook if that can be the activity?
It’s the perfect opportunity for learning and fostering development. From fine motor skills, and language skills, to their relationship with food. Kids can learn a ton while helping you to prepare food.
#22 Puppet Play
Number one, it’s fun for them. Number two, it can foster creativity, imagination, language development, and much more. And best of all, you don’t have to go overboard with a whole set of puppets, accessories, and whatnot. One or two puppets are all you need. You can also just use a stuffy.
#23 Listen To Music
As mentioned before, make sure to have at least one dance party a day. And for that, you need music. Kids love music and they can benefit tremendously from being exposed to it from an early age.
Incorporating music into routines and play in the early years has a positive influence on your child’s early development. It can get them moving, thinking and inspire creativity.
Did you know music is one of the few activities that use both sides of the brain (logical and creative)? This means it helps build important brain connections, and the more connections we have, the faster we are able to think. Most importantly though, music is fun and if your child is having fun, their brain is open to learning.
– (source: earlychildhood.qld.gov.au)
#24 Develop A Routine
That’s not really an activity, that’s literally what to do with a 16 month old.
Having a routine will make your toddler feel safer and smarter.
#25 Teach Them Body Part Names
Your toddler might start showing real interest in learning body part names. Be patient if that’s not the case quite yet. As soon as they will show interest they will make you name body parts countless times a day.
It’s time to find out if your toddler is ready to start scribbling. Don’t expect too much interest quite yet and be patient, but do at least let them try.
As long as you can get your toddler to understand that stickers aren’t food, you can let them start playing with them. But make sure you’re supervising them!
Playing with stickers will improve their motor skills and can foster their creativity.
#28 Bubble Play
Easy, affordable, and super fun for the kids. Chasing and catching bubbles is great for your kiddo’s hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, visual tracking skills, and much more!
#29 Practice Rolling, Tossing, And Catching A Ball
#30 Sensory Bins
Your imagination is the limit when it comes to creating sensory bins for your 16 month old. There are endless options, from using kitchen utensils, sand, water, jelly, toy animals, sponges, beans, and, and, and.
You don’t even have to come up with special toys or tools, simple incorporate sorting into your toddler’s days by letting them help put toys, clothes, or kitchen tools away.
At 16 months, your child is probably too young to sort by color or animal class, yet they’re definitely old enough to put their stuffed animals in one box and their musical instruments in another.
#32 Take Bath Time To The Next Level
Yes, let them wind down and relax in the bath whenever that’s an option or simply when it’s what’s best for them on a particular day. But you can also turn bath time into a fun, longer activity. From letting your toddler play with kitchen tools in the water, to simple toys like boats, to letting them draw with special markers. There are many options.
You can also encourage them to try to wash their own body.
#33 Help With Teeth Brushing
Let them help with teeth brushing and create activities around it. For instance, let them brush the teeth of their toy animals or draw a child with a wide smile, put it in a sheet protector, use a dry eraser marker to color the teeth black, and then let your child clean it with a brush.
What worked for us on days when our son wouldn’t let me brush his teeth was letting him brush my teeth while I brush his.
#34 Take Them To A Pool
You don’t have to sign them up for swim lessons unless that’s something you want to do from such a young age. All I’m suggesting is that your kiddo is now old enough and coordinated enough to have fun in a kids’ pool.
# 35 Swing & Slide
Take your toddler to a playground, push them on a swing and help them learn to go down a slide, as simple as that.
# 36 Indoor Playground
Indoor playgrounds might be a great option whether it’s due to bad weather, the lack of age-appropriate stuff to do on an outdoor playground near you, for safety reasons, or simply when you want to do something new and exciting.
Most indoor playgrounds have a special area designed for younger kids, for instance with soft slides, foam climbing blocks, ball pits, imaginative play toys, a reading corner, toddler puzzles, and much more.
# 37 Just Let Them Be
Free play fosters curiosity, creativity, imagination, problem-solving, and confidence.
As parents who want to offer our kids the best environment for healthy development, we keep looking for toys, tools, and activities to guide our kids and help them learn more and better.
However, we shouldn’t forget or underestimate the importance of simply letting our kids be.
Yes, make sure they’re safe, but let them explore their surroundings in their own way. Let them climb on the sofa, use a pot as a boat, feed their stuffed animals their snack, put your shoes on, and fall, or get stuck…at least sometimes.
This post was all about things to do with a 16 month old.