18 Months – Active Play

Help your child enjoy active play

  • Be active with your child. Eat Together, Play Together.
  • Allow plenty of time for your child to practice movements such as kicking, catching or throwing a ball.
  • Make active play fun e.g. dance parties, dress up games such as pirates or fairies.
  • Plan celebrations to include activities your child might enjoy like a trip to the park.
  • Give lots of praise for effort made during activities – it doesn’t matter if your child gets it right or not, the important thing is having a go! The focus for children this age should be on participation rather than achievement.
  • Make active play part of everyday so it just becomes a normal part of your family’s routine. For instance, when you go to the park, walk rather than driving or using the pram.

Active play ideas to do with your toddler

  • Action songs: sing action songs with your toddler that include plenty of movement such as ‘Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes’.
  • Catching and throwing games with a big ball (small balls are more challenging), a small bean bag or balloons.
  • Obstacle courses: set up an indoor or outdoor obstacle course. Let your child set it up with you for added fun. Get their favourite dolls, teddy’s and soft toys participating too!
  • Follow the leader games: lead your child to copy your actions (‘Simon Says’ for older children) or let your child lead you. They have wonderful imaginations and you might be surprised at what they come up with!
  • Ball games: Use a ball to practice kicking or take a tin can out of your recycling and allow your child to kick it on a hard surface to enjoy the fun noise it.
  • Jumping games: use a rope as the ‘river’ and have your child jump over the rope. Have your child jump off the bottom step while you hold their hand. These types of activities are really good at helping your child’s bones develop strongly.
  • Hitting games: put a tennis ball in an old pair of tights and tie it to a clothesline or similar. Encourage your child to hit the ball with their hand, move on to rolled-up newspaper and then to a suitable racquet for their age.
  • Playground games: Make use of local playgroup equipment or your own backyard. Use anything you can think of to stimulate your child’s imagination. For instance, logs, pieces of wood, old tyres.
  • Swimming: Make use of your local child friendly pool. Supervise your child at all times around water.

Outdoor time

Children are more active when they are outdoor rather than indoor. Being outdoors in cooler weather (even in the rain) does not cause the common cold or any other harm to your child as long as he or she is appropriately dressed. Most children enjoy jumping in puddles and playing in the rain! Outdoor play allows children to use their larger muscle groups – such as those in their legs and backs – and experience a greater variety of movements at various speeds and directions. Outdoor play also allows your child to use his or her ‘outdoor voice’, expend more energy and be messy. Some outdoor time every day is good for everyone.

Television or other screen time

Television or other screen time is not recommended for children younger than two years of age. Screen time includes use of smart phones and tablets, computers and other electronic games, as well as TV. From two years of age the recommendation changes to less than 1 hour a day. However, it is still recommended to have this as a ‘sometime’ activity and not a daily ritual. Less screen time means more time for active play. Off and Running. Rather than the TV, a favourite toy, book or CD to dance to can be a good ‘babysitter’ allowing you to get things done.


> Useful resources for Session Six: 18 Months