I share my suggestions for fun toddler activities to do at home to keep the kiddos occupied and active.
I (and I’m sure many other moms) often find myself trying to not only manage working from home, but also entertaining an active toddler. Even though hubby and I try our best to tag team baby duties, adjusting to the realities of mom life and working from home more often has been a struggle. I’m sure a lot of you can relate, so today I am sharing some indoor and outdoor activities I have been trialing over the past few weeks or so to keep my little toddler entertained and busy.
Fun Indoor Toddler Activities to Do at Home
Get them in the Kitchen
My kiddos are still pretty young, so their ability to really be helpful in the kitchen with me is limited. However, I do try to get them involved when I can to get a head start on developing their food skill and food literacy. Recipe development is a big part of my job and requires me to spend a considerable amount of time in the kitchen. So lately we have been trying out different sensory activities with them. Whether it’s helping to stir batter in a bowl, squeeze honey onto a sauce, or throw a bag of frozen peas into a pot (this is their favourite).
Another thing I get them to do is wash fruits and vegetables using a deep bowl of water and a toothbrush. I hand them a clementine or banana and I let them carefully scrub the skin. They get a kick out of it and I can still (somewhat) get work done. I recommend a Toddler Tower that will definitely help with this so they can stay safe while you can get the real work in.
We have a little play tent set up for Baby E where I put his favourite teddies, books, and trucks. Sometimes he is not even interested in his toys and just loves to chill in the tent on his own and find entertainment from a random household object. Who knew a frosting piper could be so fun? I love independent playtime because it gives me a solid 15 minutes to finish some work while my child happily entertains himself. However, there is definitely a sweet spot for a successful independent playtime session- #1 he must be well-fed, and #2 he must be well-rested. These conditions make him less fussy and more content to play on his own.
My mom (who has run Montessori schools her whole life) taught me this one. Place a picture or colour outside of a bunch of paper bags (for smaller items), cupboard drawers or toy sacks (for larger items) and have your toddler sort their toys in each bag based on colour, or what the picture says. So for example, all animals can go in one bag. All stickers can go in one bag. Or if you’re using the paper bags, it could be as simple as having your toddler put the green lego pieces in the green bag etc.
Pom Pom Push Game
Get a margarine or similar Tupperware and cut some different holes in the lid. Allow your toddler to push the pom poms through the holes!
Help with Chores
It’s never too early to start teaching the kiddos how to help out around the house and just because we are in self isolation it doesn’t mean daily cleaning routine should go by the wayside. So, when we are in cleaning mode, we get the boys to join in by teaching him how to sweep, put garbage away, put dirty laundry in the washing machine etc. It’s still a work in progress and it definitely slows things down but if you can make a game out of it the better! I have also found that, similar to food modeling, modeling these types of behaviours with the boys gets them more interested in what mama and dada are doing and more willing to participate. Honestly, one of their all time favourite things to do is put their own diaper in the garbage.
Have a Dance Party
Let’s be real, we can all use a little bit of a dance party right now, and this is one of the PERFECT toddler activities to do at home. We’ve discovered a ton a different Spotify playlists to get the kiddo dancing around and having fun (currently loving the “Bananas in Pajamas” soundtrack!) It’s also a good excuse to get YOUR body moving too!
Get a craft box
If you have a box full of craft materials and art supplies, now is the time to whip them out! I have discovered a ton of craft ideas and printables on Pinterest to keep my little guy occupied and keep his creative juices flowing. Having a box with different craft options also gives them the freedom of choice to decide what is interesting to them in that moment. For my boys some days this means twisting around a pipe cleaner into different shapes (just watch that they don’t poke themselves), other days it’s colouring with every crayon in the box, and recently I’ve getting a full hour at a time out of playdough! WIN!! Recently we also bought this awesome Aqua Doodle no mess play mat where they use water and some tools that it comes with to draw on a huge play mat (that takes up the span of our table). They are officially obsessed.
Okay so I stole this one from Jessi Cruikshank but basically you freeze a bath toy in a container with water to yield a huge ice cube and then let your toddler try to “rescue” the duck. I tried it and it legit entertained my boys for 45 minutes – mainly because they are OBSESSED with ice and just sucked on it. Hey, whatever keeps them hydrated!
Pipe Cleaner Necklaces
Pipecleaners are magic around here. Grab some large pasta noodles (like rigatoni) and let your toddler thread the pipecleaners through the pasta. If this is too easy, you can also cut up some colourful straws and let your toddler pipe the pipecleaners through the straw pieces. You can also use Cheerios to thread onto the pipecleaners! No pipecleaners? No problem. Use a piece of spaghetti instead!
Stuffed Animal Bathtime!
I don’t know about you but my kids LOVE baths. They also love stuffies so a fun thing to do when they’re in a mood is to let him go into to a dry bathtub filled with his toys. Throw in a few books and maybe you’ll get some independent play time.
No Kess Finger Painting
I don’t know about you but the thought of letting my toddler finger paint makes me cringe. My floors are way too nice for that. What you can do is squirt a little paint into a large ziplock bag, tape it to their high chair or the table, and let them swirl the colours into each other while keeping them safely inside the bag.
Edible Finger Painting
If your kid really wants to FEEL the paint in their hands, you can colour some plain yogurt with food colouring, cover your table in a plastic tarp, and allow your kid to finger paint on a blank piece of paper. If they get it in their mouth, GREAT, healthy snack!
If your kid is obsessed with cars like mine is, use this opportunity to teach them about how to clean them. Fill the sink with bubbly soapy water and another container with clean water, and have a towel nearby. Have your toddler dip the cars into the soapy water, then rinse them off, then dry them off one at a time.
Fun Outdoor Toddler Activities to Do at Home
Rainbow Discovery Walks Around the Block
My little guys have a lot of energy so one way that we try to get their energy out is by going on daily walks as a family (Poppy in tow). Even though I live in the city of Toronto, we are lucky to live in a relatively quiet neighbourhood so it’s pretty easy to keep everything safe. While we all know it’s getting harder to keep our toddlers still in the stroller, one thing I have found to occupy my boys is a “rainbow discovery walk”. Basically, you need to coordinate with your neighbours (we have a neighbourhood Facebook group) and we asked that everyone with kids put a drawing of a rainbow in their window (this could be a heart, or star or animal). As we walk around the block, we count together all the rainbows we can see.
Make Play Time Outside
If your kiddo loves going to the playground, bring the playground to them! If you have a backyard, front yard, or any safe outdoor space, set it up with their favourite toys and activities that they love to engage in at the playground. Amazon has been a goldmine for fun outdoor playhouses and sandboxes that are perfect for the spring-time weather. My boys are obsessed with tractors right now so we made sure to get them a few new tractor toys to have fun with in our sandbox.
Actual Car Wash
Hey, our cars are probably all dirty from the change in weather. Now is a great time to get a big bucket of soapy water, a brush and a few clothes out and let your toddler help with the parts of the car he or she can reach.
If it’s nice and dry outside, you can make paint out of 1 part water and 1 part cornstarch and mix in a little food colouring. Then let your toddler paint the side walk with an old toothbrush.
Take a Walk in Nature
One thing that I am hella grateful for is NATURE. There’s something about being by the water or deep in the forest that immediately puts your mind at least and helps you forget about the outside world. I love going for hikes in the forest with my boys because they gets so fascinated by little things, whether it’s a rock or a branch or even another little doggy (which he calls Poppy) going for a walk. I feel calmer, he feels calmer, we all feel calmer.
More Blog Posts You May Like
Enjoyed this post about fun toddler activities to do at home? Check out some of my other toddler centered blog posts below!
- HEALTHY BABY AND TODDLER MEAL IDEAS FOR TRAVELLING
- BABY LED WEANING RECIPES
- HOW THE GUT MICROBIOME HELPS BUILD BABY’S IMMUNE SYSTEM
How are you keeping your little one occupied right now? What are their favourite fun toddler activities to do at home? How do you manage working from home while parenting full time? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear your tips!
Updated on July 5th, 2023
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.