Toddlers are incredibly demanding, as their constantly evolving minds need as much stimulation as possible. If your toddler is not happy, you can find yourself dealing with a meltdown of epic proportions. Here are ten fun tricks that will keep your toddler busy.
1. Encourage painting
Most toddlers absolutely adore making a mess. Protect the area with old sheets or newspaper, put down large pieces of blank paper and let your toddler enjoy using non-toxic paints. You can provide brushes, encourage the child to paint with their hands or offer objects, such as vegetables, that can be used as stamps.
2. Engage in roleplay
Toddlers typically love pretending to be other people and acting out adult roles. If you provide them with the materials to play doctor, shop keeper or chef, they can occupy themselves for quite some time. Your toddler will have even more fun if you involve yourself in their pretend play.
3. Make a ‘sensory experience’ basket
Anything that is interesting to touch or examine can be put into a ‘sensory experience’ basket for your toddler to dip into and potentially use to play imaginative games.
Younger children tend to be particularly enchanted by new sensory experiences, but you can adapt the basket to suit older children if you add objects that prompt reflection and discussion (such as coins from other countries).
4. Provide colored dough
You can make your own colored dough with an straightforward recipe and some food coloring. This dough will be especially enjoyable for your toddler to play with if you buy some molds and cookie cutters that help the child create stars, animals and other fun shapes.
5. Buy puzzles
Toddlers can derive satisfaction from solving appropriately complex jigsaws and playing with plastic puzzles. Some of these puzzles are educational as well and can teach your toddler new facts about words, colors or numbers.
6. Start a craft project
If you draw a large shape like a tree, a balloon, or a star, your toddler can spend hours decorating that shape. Give your child safe glue sticks, crepe paper, buttons, stickers and anything else that might be fun to use as part of the craft project.
Before you know it, a brightly colored masterpiece will begin to emerge. However, make sure this project is supervised to ensure that your toddler does not swallow any of the craft supplies.
7. Play recordings
When you are too busy to read a book or sing a song to your toddler, consider playing recorded versions of favorite stories or lullabies. Some stories are recorded by multiple voice actors and can capture your child’s attention for a long time.
8. Make music
Your toddler will probably delight in beating a drum, playing a child’s keyboard or shaking a percussion instrument. While some of the noises may be jarring, you are sure to have a happy and occupied child while the musical instruments are out. If you are musically inclined, you can play or sing a song and ask your child to use their instrument to accompany you in some way.
9. Bake together
Toddlers derive a sense of importance and excitement from helping adults to complete tasks, so why not invite your child to bake cookies with you? It is smart for you to complete any potentially hazardous steps involving a mixer or oven, but your toddler can mix dough, cut it into shapes and be the first one to taste the results.
While there is no guarantee that any toddler will enjoy all of the activities listed above, there is a good chance that your child will love at least some of the suggestions. In addition, let these tips inspire you to come up with new plans for entertaining your toddler.