Babies and toddlers are an absolute joy to be around…but they do like to be kept busy!!! It’s easy to fall into the trap of taking babies and toddlers out and about all the time to entertain them, yet there’s so much fun in the everyday…what seems basic and boring to adults can be a revelation to a toddler – it’s just a case of perspective!
Having fun with everyday items:
• Tear up pieces of paper, scrunch them up, roll and throw them.
• Make a drum kit from different pots and pans. Give your little one a wooden spoon and enjoy different sounds.
• Find every single hat in the house, try them all on, looking into the mirror and giggling at the results!
• Fill a drawer with lots of interesting objects (not too small, obviously!) and let your child fiddle with them whilst you observe (this can be very useful if you are trying to make an important phone call!).
• Play hide and seek – put little surprises into different places and challenge your child to find them.
Learning new skills:
• Put playdough into a plastic bag, squeeze it, bash it and enjoy the squidginess!
• Lay out different coloured cloths and jump on them – great exercise and helps teach colour recognition.
• Look for numbers everywhere, celebrate when you find them.
• Go to the library to share a range of books, look at words, pictures and types of book.
• Dress up and role play, spend time finding props for your theme.
The great outdoors:
• Use chalk to make marks on the ground outside.
• Throw things in the park – anything!
• Fill a bucket with water, dip a jug into it and pour into containers.
• Take a bag to the park and fill it with ‘goodies’ you have collected there.
• Take a beloved toy for a walk in a buggy.
• Play fetch with a stick.
• Watch the trains at a nearby station or go on a bus ride.
• Finger painting, foot painting…they love it!
• Experiment with messy foods.
• Make mud pies and decorate them.
• Make a den and use it as a special play space where your child can make as much mess as they like.
Food and drink:
• Encourage your little one to self-feed – arrange finger food into attractive patterns and share the experience of selecting and trying different things.
• Use Cheerios to make shapes and patterns, organise them into different tubs, which will help develop fine motor skills.
• Pour water from one container to another using jugs and talk about what happens.
• Make your child a ‘cup of tea’ in a cup with a handle and enjoy finger food as a lovely ‘afternoon tea’ experience and role play your own special café setting.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to entertaining very small people, hopefully we have given you inspiration to build on it and come up with ideas of your own – the key is to be creative with everyday things – simple but effective!!