Saturday 30 November 2013

How Do You Keep Your Toddler Busy? A Growing List of Ideas!

Last week I shared how I had been unwittingly viewing my little guy as an "inconvenience".  One thing a friend said struck me as true - it takes some creativity and planning-ahead to allow yourself the time to get things done (ie: dinner) when you have toddlers.

See, up until recently I was still sorta living like our son was in the infant stage - the one where you plop them on their tummies on a mat near the kitchen and coo at them every once in a while and they are perfectly content!  Even though he was now running, hammering, building, exercising - I somehow still expected the same sort of ease in distracting him with a few (same-old) toys on the floor.

Since talking to other mom's, I see that isn't the case!  There is wisdom in planning interesting things for your children to do, and setting them out for the occasions where you need to be able to focus on your task at hand.

What I'm hoping is that you'll share a new idea (or ideas!) here in the comments, or on Facebook, and I'll add them to a growing list in this post - so that we can all benefit from a little creativity and planning!  Feel free to include links to your post, or great ideas you found on Pinterest! (Update: Lots of great ideas coming in - please continue to add yours!)


  • Give them some pots and pans, wooden spoons, a bit of water, and your veggie peelings so that they can make their own dinner/soup!
  • Spread out some towels on the floor and let them "wash dishes" in some soapy water in the sink, or on a tub on the floor.  Expect there to be spills, so you aren't discouraged when there are!
  • Get out some huge pieces of paper and tape them in place and let them colour with crayons on the floor, table, or in their high chair.
    • Do be careful as it only takes a moment for them to decide to colour off the paper!
  • Put them in a large cardboard box and let them colour inside it.
  • Have different jars of things like dried beans or  assorted pasta shapes.  Spread out a sheet and have various containers for them to sort into.  Be wise about what they could choke on and how likely they are to put them into their mouths. 
  • Give them shapes and blocks - toddlers like to sort things or line them up over and over. Large rubber blocks are good for building and easy for little hands, and are still used by bigger ones.
  • For those that are noise tolerant - noisy toys can often bring lengthened contentment!
  • GREAT POINT: Most important of all though, is to find a couple of (or more) things your toddler ABSOLUTELY LOVES to do and use them ONLY in those specific times and ALWAYS make sure you stop while the interest is still high.  Even if you're not finished your own task, change what they're doing so they don't get bored.  If we allow them to play with "it" until THEY'RE done, it will shorten the life span of what you're using to occupy them, and we need all the advantages we can find at this fun age :)  
  •  The book Slow and Steady Get Me Ready is a fantastic book for every young mom. It has an activity a day from birth through to age five. The last activity is learning to pack a suitcase.  I highly recommend it as it is filled with a plethora of age/ ability appropriate ideas.
  • An indoor "sandbox" is a huge hit in our house. We use cornmeal, but you could use anything. We put it in a shallow rubbermaid container with a lid, so it's easy to put away if necessary. 
  • Homemade playdough or fingerpaints - that way it's okay is they decide to do a "taste test".
  • Hot Wheels cars and ramps made out of cardboard provide lots of entertainment - especially when the cars go far! A ramp with a parking garage underneath is even more fun.
  • Bowling with a soft ball and paper towel tubes or anything else that stands upright. 
  • Stickers and a blank sheet of paper are great fun. Puffy stickers are easier for littler ones to peel off on their own. When the masterpiece is finished we sometimes mail it to grandparents, which spreads more joy!
  • Put together a bin of dress-up clothes and the creativity begins. 
  • Make a fort out of dining room chairs and some blankets and let your little one explore. 
  • Cotton balls, a little bowl of glue and cut out shapes (ie a sheep or snowman). 

I can't wait to see how this list will grow! As you leave comments or links I'll add them above!

post signature

1 comment:

  1. Great ideas! To go along with your indoor sand box idea, we used to use Cheerios and construction vehicles in a plastic tub. They could push the Cheerios around and eat a few :)