We asked our toddler experts – parents! – how to keep a toddler entertained at home during the inclement weather. Here’s what they said.
Toddlers are funny little humans who wake up raring to go! Parents know if you don’t find a way to spend that energy it can mean tantrums, sleepless nights and an all-around difficult day for everyone. So we asked our favourite toddler parents – YOU! – what they’re doing at home with their little ones to keep everyone busy and sane. Try one today – or try them all!
Related: Try these easy crafts and at-home science experiments you can do with items in your cupboard.
Break Up Your Day Into Chunks
I had a kiddo who was a little ball of energy and one thing I tried to do when possible was to think of our days in time blocks. I tried to not walk into the living room in the morning with every toy, book and craft out ready to be played with. The over-stimulation was a big problem for her, and it made all toys boring after an hour or two. If you can (when you can) have toys away and bring them out to have some intentional time playing with them. Saying things like “Let’s build a big city with the blocks” or “Should we have painting time now?” can really help little ones focus on one activity at a time. Here are a few ideas for indoor activities for toddlers from real parents like you!
Borrow Some Fun from the Library
Local libraries are my top recommendation for every age – not just toddlers! If you’re short on time, or see something you love in the library catalogue online, you can place “holds” on the items you want. Once they’re available, the library gathers them up and notifies you that you can come and get them. It’s super easy. We’ve been doing this a lot over the past year and it’s been so great. You can do this with technology, free family passes, activity kits and more! Libraries have also removed late fines/fees to help encourage more people to borrow without the worry of a financial charge should they be late. Thanks, Libraries! Click your city to learn more about borrowing books and more from your local library: Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville.
Read Listen to Books!
Listening to a story is a great way to start a day or unwind after some serious action. You can re-read some of their faves or pull out a new book that is seasonally timed. I love the library for free books (and more!) but I also love little free libraries, Free-To-A-Good-Home-style groups on Facebook and thrift shops. If you’ve got a Spotify account, you can listen to stories read aloud through your app. Great stories and classics
Bathtubs For The Win!
Bathtubs are such an under-appreciated tool when it comes to toddler fun. If you at all concerned about the mess, move the play to the tub! It washes up easily and your kids will love it! Bust out the bathtub crayons, finger paint with shaving cream, glow sticks and bubbles! Anything goes in the bathtub when you are entertaining toddlers and preschoolers.
Bring The Outdoors In
When it snows and you just don’t feel like putting on all that gear, scoop some snow into a big bin and let the kiddos explore it! How can they melt it? Squeezing it, dropping water on it, breathing hot air on it? Give them some cool scoopers, measuring cups and an eye dropper with some coloured water and watch your Antarctic scientist conduct experiments until the snow melts. Bonus! Then you turn it into a water play bin. toss in some small toys, too. Another easy and free way to keep your toddler entertained at home.
We Love Sensory Bins
…And kids do too! I love that they’re relatively inexpensive to put together, and you can keep reusing the pieces over and over again (unless you use snow, that’s got a limited lifespan!). Get yourself a container with a lid. I liked the wide, shallow ones that slide under beds because it tucked under our cabinet perfectly. The lid is so great to have for an easy tidy up. Here are some themed sensory activities for toddlers to get you started.
- Dinosaur Hunters – kinetic sand, plastic dino toys, excavation tools from your kitchen drawers.
- Indoor Gardener – keep it tidy and use dry black beans as soil, pipe cleaners, faux flowers, trowel, garden gloves, and pretty pots.
- Super Chef – dried pasta, large kitchen utensils, a chef’s hat, and unbreakable serving plates.
- Under The Sea – water beads, sea creatures and seashells you gather from the beach (or dollar store!)
- You can mix them up for season and holidays with plastic easter eggs, leaves and things, feathers, rice, shaving cream and more!
Kids love a good action song and all that crazy movement is an excellent way to burn off some energy. Janelle is sharing her favourite Action Songs Spotify playlist. Over 40 minutes of free dance party tunes to groove to. Thanks, Janelle!
Bigger Is Better
A loooooong roll of paper like this one is worth its weight in gold! Kids love things that are oversized, and having a large piece of paper makes colouring and painting easier when the art surface is larger. Use it for drawing mazes, streets and roadways, tracing yourselves, and just about anything you can think of. Older kids will love it too.
Relocate To Make The Ordinary Extraordinary
Believe me when I say I understand how tedious the days can be with a little, and even more so now with very few places you can go. I feel for you! One more tip I had was to move around your living space. When you are going to read a book together, ask your toddler where they want to read the book. In the yard, on the porch, on the stairs, in bed? One mom friend moved lunchtime to the car just to change up the scenery! It’s a small tweak but it will seem like so much more to your little one. Who wouldn’t love to read a story in the bathtub.
Keep It Simple
New toys, books and electronics always get the attention – but for how long do they really keep your toddler entertained at home and at what expense? It’s such a cliché, but kids really would prefer the cardboard box to play with! Keep those delivery boxes, paper towels and TP tubes, egg cartons, bubble wrap and more! They’ll become essential tools for simple activities. Your toddler will love building with them, decorating them with crayons and stickers, and transforming them into everything from a racecar to a rocketship.
Tried, Tested and True Way to Keep a Toddler Entertained at Home
There are some activity ideas for toddlers that never fail to break up the day and keep your toddler entertained at home. They’ve been around for years and most of them from when we were kids! They’re great investments and can be used over and over again. Plus, they offer lots of hand eye coordination practice. Here are the staples to keep in your home:
- Blocks – either wooden or plastic
- Drawing supplies – crayons and chalk are easily removed
- Craft supplies – water paints, cotton balls, paint brushes, stickers
- Small balls – soft ones mean less breakage and less tears
- Play doh, kinetic sand, slime and ooblek
- Pillows – for playing the floor is lava, a cozy reading space, and more
- Wheeled toys – cars, trucks, anything with wheels
- Books – always books!
- Animal toys – for role playing, learning names/colours sounds