Month 18: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 18 month old

Month 18: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 18 month old

Ladies and gentleman please prepare for landing at Playground Airport. Local time is play-time and the temperature is moderately pleasant for kids.

For your safety and comfort, I will remain seated with my seat belt fastened until captain mom turns off the fasten seat belt sign. This will indicate that we have parked at the playground and that it is safe to disembark the stroller.

screech kapow-comic-word-wall-sticker-black-s

“On behalf of mommy Airlines, I’d like to thank…”

Bam! I don’t think mom knows what hit her as I leap out of the stroller running like flash towards the playground structure; growing giganotosaurus like in size the closer I get to it. My head bobbing, surfer blonde hair waving in all directions … adrenaline increasing (wow that’s a big word for me). As I approach the playground, it towers above me.

Within the playground structure, a stratoslidotron (a slide) shines at me; this is a structure known for accelerating superheroes down a guided path. Without hesitation I begin the 1.23 sec flash climb to the top.. wow… another 0.32 seconds and down I go.. woohoo…. That was fun!

As I look around I see fellow comrades running around the playground with smiles ear to ear. A rush of serotonin pushes me to join the funtivities. Zoom! I’m running under structures, over the small mushrooms and … Hmmm… there is a large ladder in front of me. All the big kids climbed up so quickly. Hmmm… can I do it? Let’s try.

Up I go the first step… yikes slipped down. Lets try again! Up… up… up… I made it!!! I turn around and see captain mom clapping and smiling. I started to clap away. Wait… where are the kids? They are all the way on the other side. OK… off I go! See you all next month.

Lots of smiles, Josh

Josh climbing on a ladder

Every day our toddlers are getting more confident. Just like Josh liking to push himself and test his limits, having an environment where there are more skilled children allows him to get more motivated and try new things. A playground is a perfect location to have fun and learn new skills.

Here are my top 10 sensory activities for your 18 month old toddler.

As always, these activities have been tried and tested.

Sensory Play Activities

1. Climbing the playground structures

Skills Developed

Targeted Senses

Balance, motor planning (ability to conceptualize, plan &  carry out an unfamiliar task), body awareness, bilateral coordination, hand & shoulder strength, core strength and trunk control. Proprioception, vestibular, tactile senses

Little toddlers love to explore. Their confidence is increasing. A playground is a perfect location to help them explore and learn new skills.

Most local playgrounds provide many structures that your little one can climb.

2. Play dough fun

Josh and play dough

Play dough is lots of fun and has many benefits.

Skills Developed

Targeted Senses

Fine motor development including: hand strengthening, pincer grasp, finger isolation as well as hand eye coordination and bilateral coordination. Tactile, proprioception senses

How to play:

When introducing play dough, give your little one time to explore how it feels. They may start squeezing and pulling it apart. After a few minutes start introducing new concepts. After a while you may provide an open-ended play opportunity to see what else they can come up with.

Let me get you started with the following ideas. Play dough can be:

  • Squashed
  • Pulled apart
  • Squeezed into different directions
  • Flattened
  • Rolled
  • You can hide objects in it. Start with larger objects such as toy coins, little animals etc. The first few times you may need to hide the objects for them.
  • Once things are hidden in play dough your little one can start digging through it and pull them out.
  • Poking is also fun. Start with them using their pointer finger to make holes in the play dough.
  • Introduce play dough toys that can poke and manipulate play dough.

I also recommend singing songs to match a particular action you are trying to encourage them to do. Make up songs about rolling, poking or squeezing play dough as you play.

My favorite no–cook Play Dough Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • ½ cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ cups of boing water
  • Food coloring

What to do:

  1. Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl
  2. In another bowl add water and mix it with food coloring
  3. Add both mixtures together
  4. Stir until combined (it still might be sticky)
  5. Allow it to rest
  6. Take it out of the bowl and knead it until the stickiness is gone
  7. If after a few minutes of kneading it’s still sticky then keep adding small amounts of flour. Keep adding until you have reached perfect play dough consistency.

3. Rumble play

Skills Developed

Targeted Senses

Balance, body awareness, core strength and trunk control. Proprioception, vestibular and tactile senses.

How to play:

This can be a very regulating activity with many benefits. The main goal however is to have fun! As the name of the game suggests it’s rumble time. Find an open area so you and your toddler don’t bump into surrounding furniture.

Things you can do: cuddle them while falling backwards or sideways, lift them up, turn them around. Let them jump around on pillows or you (if you feel comfortable with that).

Occupational Therapy Tip:

If you notice that your toddler is getting over excited. Stop and take a break. Once your toddler has calmed down you can play again.

4. Feather blowing

Josh blowing a feather

Skills developed:

By doing activities that involve the mouth, your toddler gets to work on their oral motor skills. Oral motor activities have benefits related to speech, feeding and regulation.

By blowing feathers your toddler practices how to coordinate their lips, cheeks and jaw with airflow. Their muscle tone gets strengthened. They build awareness of their mouth, tongue, lips and jaw. Overall this is a great activity that strengthens your toddler’s muscles and builds coordination.

How to play:

I started with feathers, as they are the easiest to blow. You want your child to feel some success to increase their motivation to play. Seeing a feather move is very exciting. Knowing that you are the one that made it move is even more so. You can start by demonstrating it. You can blow on your child’s hands or face so they know how it feels. Then blow the feather. I recommend placing the feather on your hand and keeping it close to your toddlers mouth. This will ensure that even a small amount of air will move the feather. As they get more comfortable with it you can move it further away. You can also place it on a table and have them blow the feather off.

5. Doodle fun with chalk

Josh drawing with chalk

Drawing with chalk is lots of fun. It feels different then crayons and it disappears when wet. The primary goal is to have fun with it! It’s not about drawing perfect lines. It is about learning the cause and effect and scribbling. You can encourage them to draw horizontal and vertical lines but it’s ok if they won’t do it yet.

OT (Occupational Therapist) Tips

  • Try drawing on different surfaces (wood, cement, paper, chalk board).
  • Drawing on a vertical surface is very beneficial. Working on a vertical surface strengthens muscles in the shoulders and in the wrist. Those are important for many fine motor skills such as writing and cutting.
  • Have fun drawing but also show them what happens when you put water on it. Encourage your toddler to clean the surface using large hand movements. Movements that go up and down, side to side and around in a circle.
  • Using chalk, water, large hand movments as well as drawing on multiple surfaces provides a mulitsensory learning environment. Using mulitple senses allows more cognitive connections and associations to be made with this concept. Meaning they will remember and retain information more easily. Practicing these movements will make it easier for your toddler to later draw lines and circles.

6. Spice it up

Pipe cleaners in a spice container

Equipment: Empty spice container, cut up pipe cleaners

How to play: Your toddler will be strengthening their hands while opening and closing the container.  This activity can be graded up or down depending on your toddler.

Option 1. Open and close the container while putting the pipe cleaners in and out.

Option 2. Open and close the lid while putting the pipe cleaners through the small holes (see picture above).

7. Dancing Caterpillar

Dancing caterpillar with blueberries

This caterpillar has been one of my favorite toys for many years now. It is a toy that can grow with your child for many years.

Skills Developed

Targeted Senses

Fine motor skills (pincer grasp), hand eye coordination, crossing midline Auditory, visual, tactile and taste senses.

How to play:

At this age you can throw away the instructions with the game for another year or so. Instead try my idea.

Equipment: Just the dancing caterpillar and blueberries

On each of the caterpillar arms place one blueberry. (Note: You can use other foods/snacks that your child prefers).

Then get the caterpillar dancing and have your toddler collect the blueberries and eat them. If your toddler struggles to take them off while the caterpillar is moving try it stationary first.

8. Messy play: Pool of flowers

Flower bath

Skills Developed

Targeted Senses

Fine motor skills and hand eye coordination Visual and tactile senses

How to play:

Equipment: Large container of water, flower petals and cups, spoons, ladles or whatever your toddler decides he wants to play with in the water bath.

This can be a very open ended activity. Follow your child’s lead and present some guidance if they feel stuck. Some ideas include: pouring water from one container to the next, fishing out individual petals, searching for hidden objects, sticking the petals on the wall or your nose!

9. Walk about

Josh going for a walk

Skills Developed

Targeted Senses

Fine motor skills, bilateral integration, hand eye coordination, gross motor skills, visual perception skills. ALL!

 

Taking your toddler for a walk around the block can put you on a path for some adventures. You never know what you may encounter. Just remember not to rush your toddler.

Your toddler can practice many fine motor skills by shredding leaves, breaking sticks apart or picking little flowers from the ground.

Their shoulders and hands can strengthen as they lift heavy rocks to find what creatures are hiding underneath it.

They can practice their gross motor skills as they walk on different surfaces and different inclines.

They also stimulate their visual and auditory senses by simply being and observing the surrounding environment.

10. Dance party

It’s time to let your hair down and get goofy with your toddler. You probably spend a lot of your time teaching your toddler about boundaries but with this activity it’s time to make room for some fun.

Put on your or your toddler’s favorite music and dance! Dance on the floor, the couch and maybe get your toddler flying in the air. Anything goes. Just make sure to laugh and have fun!

Summary

There you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 18 month old toddler. These are bound to spark up other ideas. Let me know what activities you have tried in the comments section below.

Remember: Each baby develops at their own pace. If your child is not ready or not interested in this month’s activities, just try them again in a few weeks.

~ Urszula

Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.

❮ 17 month activities 19 month activities ❯
Month 3: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 3 month old

Month 3: Top 10 Sensory Activities for your 3 month old

Hello Everyone!! You guessed it. It’s me, Josh. I am so excited that I am now 3 months old. I have more time to play and hang out outside. I even started to go to yoga classes with mommy. She does all these weird things. She puts her legs up high in the air and then her hands stretch up high. It looks like they almost touch the ceiling. I get lifted and bounced around. It’s lots of fun! She also sings lots of songs and waves these scarves around my face. My favorite is when they are flying from up high and land on my face. It’s so fun! They tickle my face and when I open up my eyes I usually see her in different colors. Sometimes she is red, sometimes blue and other times green. Really depends on the color of the scarf.

Anyway I am off to another class with mommy.

See you next month…

Lots of smiles, Josh

I hope you enjoyed Josh’s 3rd month story. Look out for more stories in the coming monthly activities posts.

Josh at 3 months

What to expect from your 3 month old

Your 3 month old is growing and becoming more aware every day. Here are a few things that you may see your 3 month old do:

  • Your baby’s neck strength should be improving. By now when you hold them upright, you should see very little or no head wobbling.
  • Their upper body strength has improved. They should be able to lift their head and chest with their arms while laying on their stomach.
  • They are able to stretch their legs out and kick when laying on stomach or back.
  • They can push down with their legs when feet are placed on a firm surface.
  • Their hands can open and shut, come together and they can swipe at a dangling object.
  • They can briefly grab a toy or a rattle that may quickly land in their mouth.
  • Your baby’s hearing and vision continues to improve. They will turn their heads and smile at the sound of your voice.
  • They may start using hands and eyes in coordination.
  • Your baby may amaze you (and themselves) by rolling from their stomach to their back. Don’t stress if this hasn’t happened yet.
  • Your baby’s communication is changing. You may be hearing more cooing or making vowel sounds such as ‘oh’ or ‘ah’. Make sure you acknowledge these sounds. You can repeat them and then expand by telling them about what you are doing.

Sensory Activities for a Healthy Sensory Lifestyle

Hopefully you now have a bit more energy and both you and your little one have more of a daily routine. This can help greatly in regulating your little one.

Whenever you have the opportunity to play, try the below activities. Through play you can help your baby’s development both mentally and physically.

Here are my top 10 sensory activities for the 3rd month of your baby’s life. These activities have been tried and tested.

1. Tummy time

Tummy Time on the grass

This continues to be an essential sensory activity in your baby’s everyday routine. It helps to build coordination and strengthens your baby’s neck, shoulders, arms and trunk. These muscles also help with the motor skills such as rolling over, crawling, pulling self up and sitting up. Read more about Tummy Time with your baby.

2. Dance

That’s right! It’s time to get up, turn on your favorite tunes and dance away with your baby. The sillier you feel the more fun your baby is having. Not only is this activity lots of fun but it has many great benefits for your baby. As you hold them in your arms explore different movements. Move them up and down, side to side, round and round. Bounce them and move slow and fast. All this movement is stimulating the development of the vestibular system. This system is responsible for the awareness of our body in space.

You can dance in your living room, in front of the mirror or with other babies and their mamas. As you spin and move all around with your baby, make sure to stop and take a quick break every minute or so. This will let their body register the movements and ensure that they do not get over stimulated or tune out.

3. Baby moves

While doing yoga classes with my baby I had the opportunity to sing lots to him. I loved that these songs involved different hand motions. As you sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ or ‘If You’re Happy and You Know It’ you move their hands and legs. Move them to the middle of their body or pass their midline (the invisible line down the middle of their body). This will get you rewarded with lots of smiles. Additionally, it encourages the development of the fine motor and gross skills.

So lay your baby down on the floor, get down to their level. Pick your favorite tunes and start moving your baby. You can pick any of the children’s songs or something that you like to sing along to. Feel free to add some colorful scarves for some variation and color. You can sway the scarves from side to side, tickle your baby with them, or let them fall from above. Have fun singing!

4. Mirror mirror on the wall

Playing with a mirror

This can be fascinating and so much fun to watch. Just prop an unbreakable mirror in front of your baby and see them react. Your baby won’t realize that it’s actually their image until much later. However that doesn’t matter as you will be able to see lots of fun expressions on your baby. They will love to stare at their own reflection or anyone else’s really. They may even try to swipe the mirror or give you a big smile.

5. Peek-a-boo

This game starts to teach your baby about object permanence. Object permanence is understanding that objects or people still exist even when we can’t see them. Understanding this concept is an important cognitive milestone. To review the specific stages of object permanence, check out the Wikipedia page.

So how do we play? At this age the game is mainly one sided. Nonetheless still lots of fun. First, catch  your baby’s interest. Then, cover your eyes with your hands, then open them up and say ‘peek-a-boo’. Remember to sound excited and make it fun for them. Another idea is to hide your baby’s face behind a scarf and ask where they are. Then pull it away and say ‘here you are!’ or ‘peek-a-boo’.

6. Grasp and Hold

Your little one should be able to grasp an object for a short period of time. So go ahead and encourage their eye hand coordination skills. Hold out different toys or objects and see if they will reach for them. Try to give them things that can be easily grasped. Don’t be surprised if the object quickly moves to their mouth. If it’s safe, allow them to explore it.

7. Let’s get rolling

Rolling over

Have you noticed your baby trying to roll from their stomach to their back? Try the following activity to support this skill.

While your baby is on their tummy sit in front of them with their favorite toy or rattle. Once you get their interest slowly move in the direction of the roll. You can gently support them at their shoulders and guide them through the motion. Move slowly and be gentle during this activity.

Get excited once they are on their back. Give them a break and try again later.

8. Seated Disco Dancer

This activity can help improve your baby’s head control.

Your position: Lay down on your back with your knees bent and feet towards your hips.

Baby’s position: Sit your baby on your tummy facing you. Rest their back against your thighs.

How to play: This activity is similar to the ‘Baby moves’ activity in this post. Main difference is your and your baby’s positions.

While your baby sits on your tummy hold their hands. Sing along to nursery rhymes while moving their hands. You can sing ‘The wheels on the bus’, ‘Patty cake’ and so on.

Make sure you watch for fatigue but otherwise have fun!

9. Ball fun

Josh on a ball

This is so much fun! For this activity it’s best to have a large exercise ball.  This activity provides lots of movement which stimulates the development of the vestibular system. This system is responsible for the awareness of our body in space.

As an OT I love this piece of equipment. As your baby grows, a variety of activities can be done on it.  At this age you can use it three ways.

1. Bouncing: Sit on the ball with your baby secured in your lap. Ensure that your feet are flat on the floor. You don’t want to be rolling away anywhere.

As you hold your baby you can bounce up and down. To make it more fun you can bounce in front of the mirror. Also add some music to it. You can sing your baby’s favorite songs or try the following song:

‘And we bounce and we bounce and stop!’

‘And we bounce and we bounce and stop!’

and so on…

You can use any tune that you like.

Also make sure when you stop, you don’t move for at least few seconds. This will allow your baby register the movement.

2. Swaying: This is done in the same manner as the bouncing activity. Feet flat on the floor. Baby secure in your lap. Sing along as you sway with your baby side to side. You can use the following song:

‘And we sway and we sway and stop!’

‘And we sway and we sway and stop!’

and so on …

You can alternate between bouncing and swaying.

Also make sure to stop frequently. This will allow your baby to register the movement and not get over stimulated.

3. Flying time: This is a lot of fun, but also a great activity to practice tummy time. Place your baby’s tummy over the ball, facing away from you. Hold your baby at the hips for stability and gently roll the ball back and forward, making sure he/she doesn’t slide off.

10. Out and about

Josh outdoors

Going outside for walks is great and very beneficial for you and your baby. To shake things up a bit, you can also get them to a park and lay them down on the blanket. You can lay them down on their tummy or their back. While laying on the tummy they can feel the grass with their hands and be entertained by you. While they lay on their back you can talk to them about the trees, the birds, the sky and the sun. Maybe about curious animals such as dogs or squirrels that creep towards you as they want to get a closer look at your baby. What a great way to explore your senses, bond with your baby and work at building language foundations.

There you have it. My top 10 Sensory Activities for your 3 month old. Many exciting activities you can do today to help your child develop better.

These are just a few activities that are bound to spark other ideas. Just remember that every new sensory experience is helping your child’s growth and development.

Remember: each baby develops at their own pace. If your child is not ready or not interested in this month’s activities, just try them again in a few weeks.

For feedback or further questions please leave a comment below.

~ Urszula

Disclaimer: The activities in this blog are intended for sensory play. They are not a replacement for treatment of children with Sensory Processing Disorder, are not medical advice and should not be used in place of the care of a medical doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. These activities should be facilitated and supervised by an adult. All activities are to be performed at your own risk and in no event shall Sensory Lifestyle be liable for any damages.

❮ 2 month activities 4 month activities