As your toddlers grow, you will notice you spend less time entertaining them. Instead, they will play with their toys, explore new places and interact with new people, all without your help. I guess all parents need to be prepared when this time comes.
All the kids in the world are going to go through this phase. So there is nothing you need worry about but to make sure you will be the first person that will reach out to their tiny little hands at all times.
Of course, you’ll be there watching at the same time, but you won’t be dictating the situation as you might previously have done. There are times, though, when your toddler will rely on you for entertainment.
Keep reading for some great suggestions for fun games you can play at home with your toddler.
How to entertain younger kids at home
It’s not always easy keeping a toddler entertained at home. Although we can be guilty of putting too much pressure on ourselves when it comes to entertaining little ones, younger kids don’t need an all-singing, all-dancing entertainment performance complete with jazz hands.
The most important thing you can do is interact with your toddler. Use every opportunity to talk to and interact with your toddlers.
For example, if you’re sorting laundry, involve them in what you’re doing. Name the items as you take them out of the basket, and let them touch the different things. You can get them involved in the sorting, too. That might sound boring, but your toddler will be happy to be involved in your activity, and they’ll be working on their fine motor skills and pincer grip as they fish for socks.
Whether you love playing with your toddler or find it boring, you will need some games up your sleeve for rainy days. If you’re looking for great games to try, here are some much-loved, tried, and tested toddler games to try with toddlers of all ages:
#1: Color sorting
Color sorting is a fun game you can repeat often, as you can choose different objects to sort. Firstly, you’ll need a couple of boxes to sort the colors into. Make sure the boxes are color-coded.
Now give your child an object, and ask him to place it in the correct box. Be sure to talk about the items and colors as you go to help develop his language skills. This game works really well for different ages, too. For example, with older toddlers, sort colored pompoms into colored cups using play tweezers; this will develop their fine motor skills.
#2: Hide and seek
You’ve probably been playing this classic game since your baby was born, starting as a simple peekaboo behind a muslin cloth. As your baby grew, he might even have taken on the leading role in the game, giving you peekaboos instead.
Now your kid can walk, you can play hide and seek. The counting to 10 could take a while to perfect, but he’ll love chasing you around the house to tickle you and vice versa on the next round.
#3: Secret den
Most adults have fond memories of playing dens in childhood. Maybe you played it in your bedroom, under the stairs, or in the woods near your home.
All you need for this game is a bed sheet or blanket to drape over furniture and create a den. Then, decorate the inside with cushions, blankets, and stuffed animals. An older toddler might like the den to himself, but a younger one will probably want you to sit with him in the shelter.
Outdoor dens are great fun too. Head into the woods and try building a den out of a selection of branches and sticks.
#4: Hop, skip, and a jump
Have your child stand on one side of the room and tell him how to move across the space. This could be by jumping, running, crawling, rolling, or using star jumps. The mix of movements and speeds will be great for developing toddlers’ motor skills since they are using most of their body parts.
This is also an excellent game for burning off energy and works well with all children at the park. You can even turn it into an obstacle course.
#5: Ready, aim, fire!
You’ve probably worked out by now kids love to throw things (it was the bump on your head that gave it away) but they don’t always have a great understanding of what they can and can’t throw. This game will help direct your child towards throwing acceptable objects.
This is a great way to avoid tantrums. When your child is mad and reaching out to throw something inappropriate, offer him a ball instead and ask if he’d like to throw it into a bucket.
#6: Use your imagination
Your young child might have already started to use his imagination without prompting. Perhaps you’ve noticed him tucking a stuffed animal in at night, pretending to cook with saucepans from the kitchen, or speaking to daddy on the phone.
Imagination and creativity are excellent tools for play, and you should let your child lead whenever possible. Playing dollies, grocery shops, cooking, cleaning, board games, and doing funny voices are great ways to introduce imagination into games. The game plots will become more imaginative and complicated as your child grows older. In addition, using smaller toys such as figures will help improve kids’ fine motor skills.
#7: Shark attack
This game requires imagination, balance, coordination, and a lot of bravery. Well, ok, imagined bravery, but that’s still important. In addition, your child will be developing gross motor skills during this game.
Imagine the floor is the sea, and there are plenty of sharks, mermaids, and whales swimming around in it. The furniture represents dry land and boats. The game is about making your way across the room without getting wet. It’s your own version of an indoor obstacle course. This game is excellent for developing toddlers’ problem-solving skills.
Spread cushions across the floor, and find a cardboard box to use as a makeshift boat. For extra fun, ask your toddler to point out the sights along the way.
Simple ways to entertain your toddler at home
It always helps to have a parenting toolbox of ideas and inspiration you can rummage around in when necessary. Here are some great ideas you can try to entertain your toddler at home:
Singing your favorite childhood nursery rhymes is a great way to entertain your toddler. Your young child will love listening to you sing, and learning the actions to go with the songs. Old McDonald Had A Farm, Row Row Row Your Boat, and Five Little Ducks are great nursery rhymes that are fun to try with your little ones.
Little kids love listening to stories. They love snuggling up to us and looking at the pictures while we tell them a story. It’s a great idea to keep a selection of books within your toddler’s reach so they can pass one over to you whenever they fancy a story. Reading to your young child is an excellent way to develop language skills; the more words children hear, the better.
How to entertain a toddler outside
If you’re looking for some of the best games to keep your toddler busy and develop their gross motor skills, try the following suggestions:
Can you find…?
An impromptu scavenger hunt is a fun way to entertain a toddler outside. Look around you and pick something your kids will be able to locate. You can play a mobile version of the game, where they have to retrieve the object and bring it back to you. You’ll end up with a stash of twigs, leaves, and pinecones this way.
This game is great for their hand-eye coordination as they stumble about picking up objects. Or you can play a version where they just have to point out the object; this way you can include things like horses, birds, different animals, and other people.
Playing ball games is an easy way to entertain your kids outside. All you need is a soft ball they can catch or kick, depending on your preference. Stand on opposite ends of the lawn, then pass, roll or kick the ball to each other. This is like a turn-taking game.
This game will help develop your child’s gross motor skills and get him running around and burning off energy. Toddlers also learn about switching roles as you pass the ball to each other.
Do toddlers need to be entertained?
This is an interesting question, and the answer is no – you don’t need to entertain your toddler in the sense of providing an endless stream of activities. However, you need to interact with and nurture your toddler, which is what parents are trying to do when they entertain their little kids.
Your toddlers don’t need you to direct their play or lead their activities. As parents, it’s easy to get into the habit of calling the shots. Does your child find it difficult to play without your input? If you constantly show your child how to use toys or play, he will learn to look to you for guidance. Instead, see yourself as the assistant and try to join in with the games your kids invent themselves.
Although toddlers will enjoy Pinterest activities and games, it’s important to remember they don’t need these all the time. Children benefit from free play. However, you can still play an important role by responding to them when they try to get your attention.
How to get a child to play alone?
Can your child play alone? If you’re hoping to encourage your child to play alone, the first thing you need is realistic expectations. Your kid isn’t going to master independent play to the extent that you’ll get hours of peace. However, if you’re hoping for short periods here and there, that’s an achievable dream. Here are some things you can try to encourage your toddlers to play independently for a few minutes (and longer):
Don’t overload your toddlers with toys
I know you would think the more toys available, the more they would play, but it doesn’t work like that. A huge playroom stacked high with toys could be overwhelming to your child.
The best thing is to have a smaller selection of toys at toddler height, so they can choose what they would like to play with. This should ideally be in a place where they are safe to explore without rules.
Choose the right toys
Screens and noisy electronic toys aren’t great for independent skills, although they sometimes have their uses.
Alternatively, you can create fun games by using materials that are everywhere. Examples are using cotton balls, masking tape, wrapping paper, construction paper, sticky tape, plastic cups, and food coloring.
The best toys for independent play are open-ended toys your child can play with in different ways. For example, blocks, figures, and sensory toys are great for encouraging independent play.
Follow your child play
Some days, your toddlers will be happy playing alone, and other days, they won’t. That’s normal. Some kids sit and play independently and happily, whereas others want their parents’ involvement.
Your job is to accept them as they are. If they’re going through a clingy phase, stay close by and don’t try to force them to be alone. Your toddlers will learn to play independently when they’re ready; all you can offer is gentle encouragement until then. After all, you are still their family.
For more inspiration, check out this BellyBelly article featuring 17 Activities Your Toddler Will Love.