16 - 18 Months

6 ways to build your toddler’s attention span

Mother and toddler playing with Lovevery toys

Giving your child opportunities to focus on a task uninterrupted and get into a “zone of concentration” is an important part of the Montessori approach. The amount of time your 1-year-old spends in this focused state will likely be quite short now (only a few minutes at a time) but it will grow as they practice and gain stamina. 

Try these research- and expert-backed ideas to help your toddler concentrate.

Prepare the environment

Try to minimize sensory inputs by turning off screens, eliminating background noise, or moving to a quiet room. 

Let your child take the lead

Your toddler is more likely to stay focused on an activity or plaything that they choose. One-year-olds may want to fill up containers and dump them out, or work on poking small objects through small holes

Stay quiet

Resist the urge to interrupt or comment when you see your toddler focused intently on something. This is not a moment for narration. If they look up at you, acknowledge them with a smile. 

Practice joint attention

Focusing on a toy or activity with your toddler, even briefly, can help them pay attention longer. Research shows that even a few minutes of engaging with a plaything together—even if no words are spoken—makes it more likely your toddler will continue playing with their toy on their own.

Offer ‘just right’ tasks and set up intentional activities

Aim to give your 1-year-old tasks that are just a little challenging for them, like stacking rings onto a peg or peeling strips of painter’s tape off the wall. When a task is too easy, they can become bored; if it’s too hard, they may become overly frustrated and give up. It’s a tricky balance to get right ❤️

Let them struggle some

A little bit of frustration can be good for your toddler, even if it’s hard to watch sometimes. Allowing them to struggle with a task gives them a chance to complete it on their own. This gives them a feeling of pride and makes it far more likely that they’ll try again.

Read more about the research

Suarez-Rivera, C., Smith, L. B., & Yu, C. (2019). Multimodal parent behaviors within joint attention support sustained attention in infants. Developmental Psychology, 55(1), 96-109.

Yu, C., & Smith, L. B. (2016). The social origins of sustained attention in one-year-old human infants. Current Biology, 26(9), 1235-1240.


Team Lovevery Avatar

Team Lovevery

Visit site

Posted in: 16 - 18 Months, 19 - 21 Months, 22 - 24 Months, Montessori, Cognitive Development, Concentration, Lovevery App, Child Development

Keep reading