How To Play With Your Toddler (19 – 24 months)
The months approaching your kiddo’s second birthday can be a very busy time as your baby fully transitions into a lively toddler who’s ready to explore around the clock. At this age, your weekends might be filled with playdates, parent-child swim lessons, or other activities to help them expel their unending energy.
When thinking about toddler games, try to keep them engaged with fun, learning-based activities. Take your time preparing the environment, be intentional with your chosen activities, and try not to interrupt your toddler when they’re focused. It’s also okay to let your toddler lead the way, and allow them to struggle from time to time as they learn to overcome challenging activities or problem-solve on their own.
Activities for 19- and 20-Month-Old Toddlers
If your 19-month-old is your mini-me and wants to do all the things mom and dad do, put on your favorite upbeat song and help them learn to dance. This movement works to improve their coordination and balance while increasing creativity. And at this age, they’re too young to be embarrassed by your moves.
DIY a guitar
Do you have an empty tissue box and a few rubber bands? Well, good news. You have the materials you need to craft a guitar. This will work best if the rubber bands are of various thicknesses, making different sounds. Encourage your little one to pluck and strum this tot-friendly instrument. Just remember, rubber bands can be a choking hazard, so keep a close eye during this jam session.
Where did the ball go?
Using stacking cups, hide a ball (or other small, child-safe object) under one of the cups. Slowly mix them without revealing the ball and see if your child can find the ball. This memory exercise is similar to the jumbotron game at sporting events but much slower!
Let’s get messy
Your little explorer is curious about the world around them. While messes are a pain, remember that there is a time and a place for letting your toddler safely play, touch, and discover the dirt or mud. “Mud play” is good for stability and balance as kids constantly move around and adjust their position while playing.
A puzzle party
At around 19 or 20 months, your child might be showing interest in working on puzzles. It’s best to use puzzles with a few chunky pieces or pegs around this age so they’re easier to grip. Once that’s mastered, graduate to large-format cut-out puzzles. A great gift idea for toddlers is a puzzle with their name.
Activities for 21- and 22-Month-Old Toddlers
Bubble wrap stomp
Leftover mailing material is a hit with little ones and you’ll love hearing their little giggles when their tiny feet pop the bubbles. Bonus: You can sip your coffee while supervising this activity.
A little sculpture
Remember the joy of using Play-Doh as a kid? The pushing and pulling of the soft clay into different shapes and containers is a great way to promote fine motor skills. Plastic cookie cutters add to the fun of this tactile activity.
Set up makeshift “goals” around your house or backyard and help your little one with their coordination as they kick the ball toward the target. Future college scholarship, here you come!
Learning towers are child-safe stepstools with fully enclosed sides, making it easier for little ones to help in the kitchen. Supervise your kiddo and teach them how to mix, stir, crack eggs, and more. Explain the steps and ingredients along the way to increase their vocabulary and problem-solving skills.
Jumping Jack and Jill
At this age, you’ll notice your little one’s coordination improving with leaps and bounds. Their walking is smoother, and their progress toward running no longer looks like controlled falling. Now is a great time to work on jumping. At first, there won’t be any air time but support their new movements by holding their hands and showing them by example.
Activities for 23- and 24-Month-Old Toddlers
Tricycles and pedal-free balance bikes are great for your active little one. They’ll love the freedom of the open road (aka your driveway or long hallway), and you’ll love the balance work and exercise that comes with each ride. If you’re looking for a second birthday gift, consider a set of wheels.
Count 1, 2, 3!
The upcoming second birthday is a great excuse to work on the dexterity that comes with counting on your fingers. Show them how to hold up their fingers as they learn to count. Start a few months ahead, and you might have an adorable birthday photo opp of your kiddo holding up two little fingers.
Make a pathway of pillows and encourage kiddos to hop from pillow to pillow. A game like this scores points because it’s easy to set up and clean up while boosting motor skills and balance. Add to the learning—and fun—and count as they hop around the room.
Draw your shadow
Using a large roll of paper or sidewalk chalk outside, ask your child to lie on the ground while you trace their outline. Not only is this a good test of their patience, but you can help them learn their anatomy as you trace around their tiny arms and legs. Ask your child to name the body parts when the drawing is complete.
If your toddler thinks it’s funny to step into mom or dad’s gigantic shoes, they might love to play dress-up. You don’t need specific costumes for this activity since your child is likely too young to understand the concept of a firefighter, princess, or lion. From hats to scarves and your clothes, this classic game promotes dexterity and helps your child learn to dress themselves.
Now that you’re almost ready to celebrate birthday number two, make sure you've brushed up on toddler and children’s sleep.