Mummy Confession: I’m not rich. So sometimes, I use things around the house to keep my kids entertained.
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Here are 10 activities to keep babies and toddlers entertained with things you can find around the house! Free and fun! You can get as creative or simple as you wish with these – the sky is the limit!
Some of these activities require close monitoring, so please keep an eye on the little ones at all times when using any of these following suggestions! Some materials pose a suffocation or drowning hazard if left unattended.
(Water safety: even shallow water poses a drowning risk, so NEVER leave babies or children alone around water, no matter how little it may be!)
1. Drum circle
What you need: Some wooden or plastic spatulas, Pots and pans
What to do: Set up a circle using your pots, pans and bowls and place baby in the middle with a spatula. He will love banging on the different shaped objects and hearing the different noises that they make. Encourage him by holding your own spatula and tapping the different dishes.
2. Messy play
What you need: A plastic tablecloth (to protect your floor), A variety of cooked food, A bath ready and waiting for the aftermath
What to do: Cook a few bits of spaghetti and some kala chana and pour it all over the floor to let baby have at it.
I have to admit, most of it was consumed, hence why I used food as opposed to anything else. There are so many recipes on Pinterest for baby safe gloop and paint. The world is your oyster when it comes to messy play. Have the bath ready and waiting and then let babe enjoy a long soak afterwards.
3. Tummy Time Water Play
What you need: An oven dish, Plastic ducks, Some water
What to do: Pour a small amount of water into the oven dish and place some ducks in it. Place baby on his tummy and let him splash the water and move the ducks. Endless hours of entertainment for a baby who hasn’t yet learned to crawl.
4. Treasure baskets
What you need: An old washing up bowl, Any bits and pieces from around the house that baby loves
What to do: I bought a washing up bowl and started collecting stuff in it that Baby took a shine to such as a large yellow sponge, a whisk, measuring spoons and a plastic spatula. Whenever I need to keep him preoccupied for a few minutes, I bring the treasure basket out and let him have a play with the bits and bobs while I get my jobs done. This helps me massively when I’m trying to stop him crawling into the kitchen!
5. Wallet Play
What you need: Wallet & business cards or used iTunes cards, anything not too important in card form. (You can also do some pictures of the people they know or of objects they love. Laminate those if you want them to last.)
What to do: Give them the cards and the wallet. Let them practise motor skills by putting cards in and out.
I take a wallet everywhere with me, and this always offers some distraction at least for a little while. If you don’t want to use an old wallet, they’re cheap enough to buy, or you can order blank plastic cards online or cut up cardstock if you don’t wish to use old cards.
6. Tea Party/Picnic
What you need: Cups of any sort, pretend or real beverages, pretend or real food, pretend or real (or toy) guests, blanket/towel/sheet
What to do: On top of material (blanket/towel/sheet), arrange cups in either a hap-hazard order or even practise etiquette and manners. This can be educational or just downright fun! Use silly voices and give yourselves outrageous names. Pretend play is fun! Everyone loves a good High Tea! Host your own with or without costumes, real treats, guests, and superb conversations. For added bonus, send out an invite or create your own invitations for guests.
7. Fort Building
What you need: Sheets, Blankets, Towels and pillows. Support such as a cot, air dryer, or table. Couches or cushions also work well for this activity.
What to do: Using support, cover with materials you have. Create fort. For added bonus, host a tea party, watch a movie, tell stories, or read a book together inside. Forts are always fun!
**Just watch here for toppling things and you’ll be alright. My kids like to pretend my laundry is their fort every time I hang it up.**
8. Object Sorting
What you need: Any objects, big or small. I went with pegs (clothespins), and two or more containers.
What to do: Honestly, this one is just for the fact that kids love to move things from one place to another. Without fail, I find them digging through my clothespegs and sorting them, so I just gave them two different containers to sort. They are usually in a basket, and I provided them with an empty wipes container that they love to stick the pegs through the hole. This helps to develop hand-eye coordination I’m sure, and the kids just love moving things (as I’m sure you find with their toys, too). For more complexity, find coloured containers and have them sort according to colour, shape, or size!
9. Scavenger Hunt
What you need: Coloured containers, or colours on a piece of paper, and your house.
What to do: Colour on a piece of paper if you don’t have coloured containers, and have the children look around the house for anything of that colour. If you have containers, have them put them inside. You can specify to various categories, like “your toys that are this colour,” “objects in this room with these colours,” or just have fun with it. Alternatively, go outside and find things of various colours, too. Pinterest has hundreds of ideas for various scavenger hunts, so check these ones out!
What you need: Box big enough for child to fit in, crayons/markers/colouring utensils, stickers and other craft items are optional
What to do: Place child in box with colouring utensils. Let them go crazy! Obviously, you need to watch and ensure the box doesn’t topple, or that your munchkin doesn’t eat the crayons, but this can be a decently calming activity.
This is such a great idea I read a long time ago, and my kids absolutely love it! Mum loves that it keeps the colouring tools contained and off the walls. (Side not: make sure the box isn’t near the walls…) I instituted a “crayons stay in the big box” rule when we had a really big box they used. No complaints from my child, just lots of creativity and fun! Afterwards, you can just recycle the box, or even better, use it as a fort or cut it up and make a cool house! So many uses, and kids love boxes!
I hope these ideas can lend some help to you mamas out there whether you are looking for something to distract for that moment, or something fun and educational. Add your twist of creativity! Have fun with your children and remember, sometimes the best toys are right under our noses.