Sheffield Crown Court heard how police raided Remus Pavaloaei's home in Mayfield Avenue, Stainforth on July 31 last year, after receiving intelligence from Hertfordshire Police.
During a search of the property, police recovered two laptops belonging to Pavaloaei.
"He was arrested on suspicion of making indecent images and said: 'I know I did wrong, it started about a year ago'," Stephanie Hollis, prosecuting, told the court.
Under the law, 'making' an indecent image can refer to the 'opening, accessing, downloading and storing of online content'.
Following analysis of Pavaloaei's computers, the 28-year-old was found to be in possession of a total of 17 movies in Category A, 11 movies of Category B and three Category C images.
Category A is the most serious of the legal categories for indecent images and videos, and is is defined as material which shows children being raped.
Recorder Rachael Harrison told the court that the material downloaded by Pavaloaei depicted children as young as three being sexually exploited.
Ms Hollis added: "In a further interview in January, he accepted he had viewed and downloaded material over a period of 18-months for his own sexual gratification. He expressed shame and remorse for his offending."
The court was told how Pavaloaei has no previous convictions.
Recorder Harrison sentenced Pavaloaei to a three-year community order and ordered him to complete a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement.
"Because of your guilty plea, because of your remorse, because of your lack of previous convictions I am not going to send you to prison.
"If you are going to be helped, it will be now. This will be your one chance," said Recorder Harrison.
Recorder Harrison also placed Pavaloaei on the sex offenders' register for a period of five years, and made him the subject of a five-year sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).
The purpose of a SHPO is to precent an offender from committing further crimes by imposing a range of conditions.
Among the conditions set out in Pavaloaei's order is a ban on him owning electronic devices on which it is possible to delete his internet history.