Simple Fine Motor Activities for 18 Month Old 1

Simple Fine Motor Activities for 18 Month Old

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Did time just fly by and now you have an 18 month old toddler to keep busy? Yeah, me too. While I was looking for fine motor activities for my toddler, I decided to put something together for other moms to make the research process easier.

These toddler fine motor exercises are ideal for strengthening fine motor abilities and preparing small hands and fingers for later-developing skills like handling a pencil and finishing garment fasteners.

Every infant, toddler, and kid grows at their own speed and in their own unique style, making it difficult to assign a certain age to any of these activities. As a result, I believed that a larger age range would be beneficial.

Sensory play, fine motor activities, gross motor activities, and arts and crafts are some of the key areas we might focus on while engaging in learning activities for this age group. Things can get messy, but the learning is important for your toddler development, so let’s get to it!

Looking for easy and fun ways to develop your toddler's fine motor skills? Check out these simple activities that are perfect for 18-month-olds and can be done with materials you likely have at home!

What Is Sensory Play

A toddler’s best buddy is sensory play. You may achieve a lot with a sensory exercise, from just introducing your child to new experiences to boosting language and providing possibilities for pretend play.

When we hear the word “sensory play,” we often think of “messy.” This does not need to be the case!

You’ll discover a few of alternatives here that are just as entertaining without the clutter. Making a mess, on the other hand, is acceptable. Place a towel on the floor and wrap yourself in it, just make sure you’re allowing some sort of play that helps the child’s development of fine motor skills.

Why fine motor activities?

Fine motor abilities refer to the coordination of tiny muscles in our fingers and hands. The development of fine motor skills happens overtime and every child learns these skills at different rates.

A baby’s development of fine motor abilities is critical. They utilise the tiny muscles of the hands and fingers to grab and control items. They enable us to generate movement, coordination, and strength in our hands as we go about our daily activities.

These abilities and muscles are used by adults to write, type, feed themselves, turn a door knob, sew a button, give a massage, prepare dinner, and much more. These muscles must be fine-tuned in order for us to live a prosperous life.

See also: Water Table Activities For Toddlers

Fine Motor Activities for 18 Month Old

Here are some fun activities for young toddlers (and older children) to help them work on their fine motor skills.

Turning Pages: Allow your child to flip the pages and pick up the flaps of their book as you give them a goodnight tale. They are exercising this skill even when they are merely exploring and playing with books. At this age, board books with thick pages and flaps are still the finest. My kid adores Lift-the-Flap books, in which she can lift a flap to reveal a hidden picture.

Stacking: Although they may not be able to stack the cups correctly just yet, your child will enjoy playing with them in new and fun ways. They can try to stack them, stuff them with things, or roll them about the floor while chasing them. You can purchase stacking cups (or nesting cups) or use what you have on hand.

Blocks: Blocks are used to construct structures. Try placing a few blocks for them on their own, or build a tower for them and let them knock it down! Assist your child in knocking down a large tower of blocks using a ball. I was super lucky to find foam blocks at the dollar store near me, and they were not the cheap kinds either! I do also have these wooden blocks as well, but I don’t bring them out as often because they get noisy when they fall. Building blocks are important for your child’s development and they are great for keeping little fingers busy when you need a minute. My 8 year old still loves playing with plain old building blocks…so they are great for many age ranges.

Thread Beads: You can allow your child to try and thread large beads onto some string. This really helps with hand eye coordination and is a fun activity for older toddlers, and even school-aged children.

Open and Closing: The process of opening and shutting. Opening and shutting items fascinates toddlers. Try How We Montessori’s entertaining opening and closing exercise. Try a hide-and-seek puzzle or stock your shelves with books that have flaps to open and close.

In the Kitchen: Cooking with a toddler may be both enjoyable and challenging. What’s your best bet? Maintain a straightforward approach! By scooping, stirring, and kneading the ingredients together, you may involve your child in the process. You’re not in the mood for a shambles? Simply place a basin of water and some cooking utensils on the counter.

Coloring: Your toddler will love to color with these non-toxic crayons on a bit of paper, or use some chalk and let your little one color on the sidewalk. I was always a huge fan of the “no mess coloring” books for my kids and I’ll be getting some for my newest toddler as well.

Stickers: Toddlers love stickers, and it’s a great opportunity for your little one to brush up on their fine motor skills and work on the pincer grasp. Here are my favorite toddler sticker books.

Painting: Much like coloring, painting is a great activity and has a lot of great benefits of your toddler. You can let your child paint with their hands, a paint brush, a q-tip or even a potato. Honestly the painting possibilities are endless, it’s an easy activity and it’s great for hand strength and working on the palmer grasp. I use these simple finger paints for my kids.

Chores: My little lady loves to wipe the walls, sweet the floors and walk around with the vacuum cleaner while I do my daily tasks. Give your toddler a sponge and let her wash something! This isn’t to say your toddler is now doing regular chores at home and everything needs to be done perfectly…this is just a fun way to get your toddler involved in your day and help them with developing their fine motor skills.

Water Play: Letting your child play with water is another great way for those little hands to work on fine motor control. Add in an ice cube tray, plastic cups, cookie cutters, pom poms, simple utensils, shape sorters, pipe cleaners and anything else that you think is safe enough to play with in the water and will provide different textures. We use a water table in the backyard for water play and sensory processing in the summer and here are my favorite water tables you can get on Amazon. If you don’t have space for a water table, a small bowl of water and some small objects are all you need!

Shape Sorters: A ability that arises about this period is dropping or releasing objects into a container. Allow children to drop in wooden blocks, miniature shapes, and animal toys from your stash.

Magnets: Magnets on a cookie sheet can be a good activity for fine motor development. You can also use the fridge and some fun magnets like these animals ones.

Stack Rings: In my opinion, every baby should have a stacking ring toy like this. I made sure that each of my children had a stacking ring toy by 9 months of age. Even if they can’t stack yet, they are so good for teething.

What About Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are the abilities to control the major muscles in our body that will be utilised for walking, running, leaping, and other activities in the future. Building these muscles is vital for obvious reasons, but as a former early childhood teacher, I’ve discovered that kids learn and retain things better when they’re up and moving, so include gross motor skills in an activity is always a plus.

Fine Motor Skills Checklist for Toddlers

Growing Hand On Kids has a great checklist for fine motor skills.

By 18 months old these are the developmental milestones your toddler should have:

  • Can put rings on pegs.
  • Begins to hold a crayon with finger tips and thumb.
  • Removes pegs from a pegboard.
  • Marks or scribbles with a crayon or pencil.
  • Can build a tower 3-4 blocks high.
  • Can open loosely wrapped packages or containers.
  • Begins to make snips on paper with scissors (closer to 24 months old).
  • Can turn pages in a book one page at a time.

Simple Fine Motor Activities for 18 Month Old Bottom Line

Many occupational therapists rave about fine motor skills and how it’s so important for baby’s to work on their palmer grasp and pincher grasp as well as their visual motor skills. Working on these fine motor skills through sensory activities is a great and easy way for young children to work on their muscle strength and help in other areas of development.


What fine motor skills should a 18 month old have?

At 18 months old, a toddler’s fine motor skills are still developing. They should typically be able to:

  1. Hold and grasp objects with a full hand grip.
  2. Use a pincer grasp (using thumb and index finger) to pick up small items.
  3. Scribble or make random marks with crayons or markers.
  4. Turn pages of a board book, though not always one at a time.
  5. Stack a few large blocks.
  6. Feed themselves with their fingers or attempt to use a spoon.

Remember that children develop at their own pace, so some 18-month-olds may exhibit more advanced skills while others may be progressing gradually. Encouraging play and activities that promote fine motor development can aid their growth in this area.

What fine motor development is 24 months?

By 24 months, toddlers’ fine motor skills have typically progressed, and they can:

  1. Use a pincer grasp more effectively to pick up small objects.
  2. Scribble with crayons or markers in a more controlled manner.
  3. Stack several small blocks into a tower.
  4. Turn pages of a book more skillfully, one at a time.
  5. Feed themselves with a spoon, although some mess is still common.
  6. Participate in simple activities like threading large beads or putting puzzles together with assistance.

As with any developmental milestone, individual children may exhibit slightly different levels of fine motor ability at this age. Encouraging and providing opportunities for fine motor play can further enhance their skills.

What are fine motor skills milestones for 12 to 18 months?

Between 12 to 18 months, toddlers typically achieve the following fine motor skills milestones:

  1. Grasping objects with a full hand grip.
  2. Using a pincer grasp (thumb and index finger) to pick up small items.
  3. Banging objects together or placing them into containers.
  4. Scribbling or making random marks with crayons or markers.
  5. Turning pages of a board book, though not always one at a time.
  6. Feeding themselves with their fingers or attempting to use a spoon.
  7. Beginning to stack a few large blocks.

Remember that each child develops at their own pace, so there can be variations in achieving these milestones.

How can I improve my 18 month old fine motor skills?

To improve your 18-month-old’s fine motor skills, engage them in various activities that promote hand-eye coordination and finger dexterity.

Offer safe and age-appropriate toys such as stacking blocks, shape sorters, and large puzzle pieces to encourage grasping and manipulating objects.

Provide opportunities for scribbling with crayons or markers on large paper or coloring books, fostering their creativity and hand control.

Let them explore finger painting with non-toxic, washable paint to strengthen their hand muscles and express themselves artistically.

Introduce activities like putting objects in containers or threading large beads to further develop their fine motor abilities.

Encourage self-feeding with finger foods or a spoon to refine their feeding skills.

Supervise these activities to ensure safety and provide encouragement and praise for their efforts, as playtime and exploration are essential for their developmental growth.

Simple Fine Motor Activities for 18 Month Old 2

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