Is toddlerdom exciting or what? Gosh, I love those little 19 month olds so darn much! This is such an exciting time because these one and a half year olds are growing, learning, and changing all the time! I can’t get enough of their excitement for life and the new skills that are developing all the time!
With all of this growth, you want to stimulate their little brains so these young toddlers can capitalize on these important months. You also might just need some ideas on HOW to play or interact with your 19-month-old. Well, let me tell you, you’ve got a lot of options!
Physical development is broken down into two categories: fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Fine motor skills include smaller movements and hand-eye coordination. Gross motor skills are big movements like running and jumping.
Gross Motor Skills:
- climbing low play equipment
- bending over from standing
- tossing or rolling a big ball
Fine Motor Skills:
- trying to wash their own hands
- stacking a few blocks
- attempting to feed self with a spoon
- trying to do many things independently
- needing almost constant attention
- begining to tantrum when frustrated
- exploring their environment
- experiencing separation anxiety
- enjoying singing familiar songs
- liking to look at books
- starting to use some pretend play
- imitating the caregiver’s actions
Language skills are also broken down into two areas: receptive language and expressive language. Receptive language is how much your child understands, and expressive language is how much they can say or communicate.
- understanding many words for common objects
- following 2-step related directions
- beginning to point to body parts when named
- using at least 50 words independently
- starting to put two words together (like “bye mommy” or “more drink”)
- uses words or signs to ask for help
- saying words like “me” and “mine”
Best Activities for a 19 Month Old
Above, I described some of the important milestones that may be emerging in your 19 month old. The following activities all target at least one of those skills that they should be learning. That means each idea will be fun, engaging, and educational for your little one.
I can never overstate the importance of reading with your child! You can start reading to your baby as soon as they are born (sometime between the sleepless nights, the crying, and the feeding). Sincerely, babies and especially young toddlers (like your 19 month old) benefit greatly from reading.
Why it’s good for your little one: Reading to your child helps with receptive language, expressive language, social and emotional skills, and cognition. It really is a magical activity.
When you read with your child, pick books that have colorful pages and fun stories. Name the pictures as you point to them, so your child can learn new words. Try to be animated and silly (when it works) to help your child enjoy reading with you!
My favorite book for this age is “What is Baby Going to Do”. It’s a cute little lift-the-flap book that talks about different routines that almost every baby experiences. Your little one will love pointing out “baby” and lifting the flap to reveal fun, colorful pictures.
Related Article: Choosing Books for Your Toddler
Paint (With Water or the Real Stuff)
Painting is a really exciting adventure for young toddlers. It can be a great intro to sensory play, and it gives your child a feeling of independence since they get to hold the paintbrush.
You can definitely give your child real paint (I like this finger paint because it’s non-toxic, washable, and comes in 10 different colors.) A fun way to make this mess a little more contained is by letting your child paint in the bathtub.
If you aren’t ready to brave the idea of giving your not-yet two-year-old paint, then go with a little bit of water! Your child will not know the difference!
If it’s nice out, your child can enjoy this water play by painting the cement, your house, or whatever they find…because it’s water!
When you are looking for an indoor activity, you can also give your child a small cup of water, some paper, and a paintbrush. The water still makes the page change colors, so your little one will be into it!
Why it’s good for your little one: Painting is great for fine motor skills, creativity, and promoting independent play.
Another fun activity that is probably underestimated is singing with your child! There are so many fun, easy songs to choose from. Just pick a favorite and go for it!
Don’t worry if you aren’t a great singer, because your child will not know the difference! If you are really worried about it though, you can always play a song from your phone (although at this age, I recommend just listening to it, not watching it).
Some favorites for my kids at this age include: “Wheels on the Bus”, “Five Little Monkeys”, and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. All of these have great, simple actions that your child can learn, even before they can sing it!
Why it’s good for your little one: Singing is a fun activity that helps your child learn new words, practice fine motor skills (with actions), and can be a great calming strategy!
Mix Up Bathtime
Did you know that you can do extra fun stuff during bathtime? There are tons of different ways to make it exciting!
One of the best ways to spice up bathtime is with food coloring! I know that sounds crazy, but it’s too fun not to try! I just add a few drops of food coloring to the bath, and sometimes some extra bubbles. My kids love it! It does not stain your children, and it in my experience has never stained the tub!
Another great way to switch up bathtime is to add plastic cars and trucks. Make it a “car wash” for the cars while your little one gets clean. You can even give them sponges or toothbrushes to really scrub them clean! It may help to model how to use the little “tools” you give them!
My last fun bathtime idea is to put Duplos in the bath with your little one! This idea comes from The Busy Toddler, who has tons of great activity ideas! Just throw some of your Duplos (ya know, those Legos that are made for toddlers?) and let your little one build in the bath!
Why it’s good for your little one: Bathtime is necessary, and some young children can have a tough time with it. By adding in a few extra elements, your child has a better chance of enjoying it!
Box It Up
I’m always a little excited whenever we get a package that comes in a big cardboard box. The possibilities that come along with a box are basically endless!
When we have a few different big boxes, I like to use them as tunnels! I just open up both ends of the box and set them on their side. Then your little one can scootch through them. They may need some encouragement, so put them on one side of the tunnel, and go to the other side, calling their name and giving them big smiles.
We have also made boxes into little cars before. You can let your child decorate the box with some toddler crayons to extend the fun. After the car is ready to go (literally just an open box that your child will fit in), you can push them around while saying “zoom”. Your child will love this. You could even work on vocabulary by encouraging them to say simple words like “stop” and “go” while you push them around. It’s a fun little game that will encourage them to use words!
Why it’s good for your little one: These little box games promote physical skills as your child will be scooting through or getting in and out of the box. You can also target some new words to help your child expand their vocabulary.
If you aren’t ready for your child to deal with paint at this age, I don’t blame you! But this Ziploc bag art is a good way for your child to experience paint while skipping the mess!
Basically, you get a big Ziploc bag and put a white piece of paper in it. Then, you put a few squirts of paint at the top of the paper (that is inside the baggie) and zip it closed. Then give the baggie to your toddler so they can squish the paint around, and make some beautiful art!
Their little hands will have so much fun squishing the paint around, and seeing the art they are creating!
Why it’s good for your little one: This activity is the perfect activity for your child to experience paint for the first time. They still get to create art and feel the paint (well almost), but there is no mess. That’s an ideal combination for me!
What could be more fun than bubble wrap? If you have a package that came in bubble wrap, don’t let it go to waste! Your little one will have lots of fun popping those little things. You will have to show them how to do it, but they will likely get the hang of it on their own.
Why it’s good for your little one: Popping bubble wrap is a simple way to work on fine motor skills. It’s nothing fancy, but at this age, kids are easily entertained!
The importance of coloring should not be underestimated! Get out some crayons and paper and draw with your child. At first, their coloring might be more like jabbing at the paper. But over time, they will learn to scribble.
Why it’s good for your little one: Coloring and drawing is actually a pre-writing skill. You have to learn how to hold a crayon and make marks on a paper. It’s also one of the best fine motor activities!
If you’re wondering which types of crayons are best, check out my post about it here: The 11 Best Crayons for Your 2 Year Old (2024) – Talk 2 Me Mama. I know it says for 2 year olds, but your 19 month old will benefit from lots of the same crayons!
Make eating into an activity! I know this can sound risky, especially for those who are NOT into messes like my husband!
If you can get past the mess, it’s so much fun to play with food! Put out different things on a plate or your child’s high chair and let them go for it! Have different fruits and veggies cut up, and put out some yogurt, applesauce, or pouches. Let your child take the lead.
Think of it as a toddler charcuterie board! Letting them pick up their food and explore can serve as a great sensory experience. They can explore the food with touch, taste, smell, and sight.
Why it’s good for your little one: Although playing with food might sound bad, there are some real benefits! According to KinderCare, playing with food helps children learn to feed themselves. It can also lead to less pickiness in your child. When they explore foods freely, they are more likely to try them!
Just about all the toddlers I know have a great time making lots of noise! Make it easier for them by creating your own noisemakers at home!
What you will need:
- a few toilet paper rolls
- wax paper
Did you know you can make your own kazoo? Grab an empty toilet paper roll and cut out a piece of wax paper a little bigger than the opening on the end of the roll. Then secure the wax paper on the roll with a rubber band. TA-DA! You’ve got a kazoo! Just blow into the open end, and be amazed at the fun sound you and your toddler can make!
Why it’s good for your little one: Making your own noisemaker is so much fun and it’s great practice for your toddler! They can learn about controlling their breath as they blow in, and music is great for children!
Toy-Based Activities for 19-Month-Olds
Toddlers often love looking at and interacting with babies, so getting them their own to play with is perfect! There are so many ways your child can play with a baby: feeding it, putting it to bed, giving baby snuggles, and more.
Why it’s good for your little one: Pretend play is one of the main ways children learn. They learn problem-solving and social-emotional skills. Giving your child a baby to play with is a great introduction to pretend play!
Did you know that rolling wheeled toys (like toy cars and trucks) is actually a cognitive skill? Your child will love playing with cars: on the floor, with a car track, or on a mat.
Why it’s good for your little one: Have I mentioned that imaginative play is important? Cars and trucks can be good for independent play, or with a friend (social skills!). It’s also good for fine motor skills!
Sensory bins are all the rage these days because they are great for (you guessed it!) sensory play! Exploring different textures is a perfect activity for this age!
The basics: you need to get a bin of some sort-I like containers with lids like this one so I can easily put them away and reuse them later! After you’ve got the bin, you add a fun substance like shaving cream, water beads, rice, or cereal. Next, you add some fun tools so your child can dump, poor, mix, pinch, or whatever else they come up with! You can get a set of sensory tools, or you can find old spoons, bowls, and measuring cups.
Why it’s good for your little one: Sensory bins help your child with fine motor skills while they play. It is also great for exposing them to different textures that could help them when it comes to eating.
What 19-month-old toddler doesn’t love pushing buttons and messing with switches? This is a great toy for independent play or travel! Your little one will love exploring all of the different ways they can interact with this toy!
Why it’s good for your little one: Working with buttons and switches is great for both fine motor skills and cognition as they learn about cause and effect.
Play Dough is really the most fun thing when you’re a kid! The different colors, the way you can make it into so many different things, and the fun way it feels make it one of the best toys!
Check out The BEST homemade playdough recipe by I Heart Naptime or buy a few different colors here.
Why it’s good for your little one: This is a great way for your child to show some creativity. Additionally, it’s a great sensory activity as they squish their little hands into the play dough.
Playing with sidewalk chalk is a simple activity, and great for those warm months. Draw alongside your child or let them try it out on their own. (Just be sure they don’t try to eat it!).
Why it’s good for your little one: Sidewalk chalk is a great activity to first start working on pre-writing skills. Those small marks your child makes on the ground are precursors to writing their first word.
One of the best water activities at this age is free play with a water table! Bring it out on a hot summer day and let your child play for as long as they want! They will love the independence and fun that comes with water.
Why it’s good for your little one: Your child can work on their fine and gross motor skills as they scoot around this activity table and manipulate the different toys.
This spinning ring stacker adds an extra twist (get it?) to your average ring-stacking toy. This specific toy features rings that spin as they go down the pole.
Why it’s good for your little one: Your child can work on color words as they play with this incredibly colorful toy! They also get to practice their fine motor skills and problem-solving as they get the rings on the pole.
Nesting cups are a classic toy for a reason: they are awesome! These simple cups are one of the best things I’ve bought for my kids! They are entertained by them for a surprisingly long time! They can be stacked, nested, sorted, and crammed full of small toys.
Why it’s good for your little one: Nesting and stacking the cups requires problem-solving and fine motor skills. Plus, your child can learn tons of new words like colors, animals, and counting when they play with these cups.
This toy is great because it incorporates healthy food choices and can be used in so many ways!
Why it’s good for your little one: Your child can enjoy pretend play while they sort the foods by colors, using their fine motor skills and their cognitive abilities.
Children love music! It can be very calming, and it can also be loud and fun. Let your child go wild with these fun musical instruments.
Why it’s good for your little one: Using these musical instruments helps your child learn about cause and effect. They also get to use their fine motor skills as they learn how to manipulate the various toys.
Children love to imitate others, and this bubble lawn mower is a perfect way to let them do that. Plus, this thing blows bubbles! That’s a big win!
Why it’s good for your little one: Your child can work on their gross motor skills while they push the mower around the yard.
Best Games for a 19 Month Old
Hide and Seek
Just about everyone knows how to play hide and seek. Start by hiding in a really obvious place, so that your child can easily find you. Then help them start counting (or have a partner or sibling help) and then let them come find you. Encourage your child to hide, too. Again, it would likely be easier if you had a third person to help. Keep it simple and fun!
Why it’s good for your little one: Hide and seek is great for social interaction, problem-solving, and counting.
Inny bins are the perfect game for children 19 months of age. Your child tries to get the shapes through the little rubber bands. Kids at this age LOVE taking things in and out of containers.
Why it’s good for your little one: This game provides the chance to work on color words, shape words, fine motor skills, and cognition.
This is a really fun age for peek-a-boo. Your toddler is becoming more social and playful. You can start the game by hiding, or you can cover your baby up with a blanket or a cloth, and when they pull it off (or you pull it off), then say “peek-a-boo”.
Why it’s good for your little one: It’s so important to work on social skills, and peek-a-boo is perfect for that!
Puzzles with knobs are a wonderful game for 19 month olds. They are fun and offer so many ways to learn!
Why it’s good for your little one: A puzzle is wonderful for fine motor skills, problem-solving, and learning new words.
Children at this age are learning how to interact with a ball. They can begin to roll and throw it.
Why it’s good for your little one: Your child can work on their gross motor skills and social interactions as they play ball with you.
These blocks are far from ordinary, but the potential is endless! Make it a friendly competition with your little one, or work together to see how big of a tower you can stack with these unique blocks. They are colorful, varying in shape and size. So fun!
Why it’s good for your little one: Your child can work on their color words, while perfecting their fine motor skills. Figuring out how to stack these strange blocks will also be great for cognition!
Pom Pom Push
As I said above, kids at this age love to put things in containers. You can make your own game by grabbing any number of empty containers (oatmeal tub, cardboard box, or whatever else you have around). Put a small hole in the top, and get some of those little colorful pom poms. Let your child push the pom poms into the hole.
Why it’s good for your little one: Your child can work on fine motor skills, problem solving, and color words.
Everybody Clean Up!
Make cleaning up into a game with your little one! Put on some music (we love Jim Gill!) and tell your child that it is time to clean up. At this age, your child might really enjoy clean up if you make it fun. Give your little one an easy, manageable task like putting certain toys in a box. Model cleaning up by doing some cleaning yourself, too! Don’t put too much pressure on them to do it, keep it fun!
Why it’s good for your little one: It’s great to teach your little one some responsibility early on. You might not feel like they are capable, but they really are! Give your child the chance to clean up, and be amazed (hopefully)!
I’m sure you found some great ideas for how you will interact, engage, and entertain your little one. If you have any other great ideas for what you like to do with your 19-month-old, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!