Entertaining toddlers isn’t always easy. You can spend ages setting up an activity only for them to tire of it after a few minutes. Kids love playing – and always will, even when they are grown-ups.
First, you need to begin to understand what their interests are, what are they up to, what makes them happy, and what games can match their mood.
You can spend a small fortune on a new toy only for them to show more interest in the box. Often, toddlers spend more time playing with non-toys than they do with actual toys. This is challenging for all parents out there. You have to come up with a bunch of ideas so your little ones will never be bored.
Whether you’re looking for activities to fill an afternoon, or games to kill 20 minutes while you wait for a guest to arrive, you should find something in the list below that your toddler will love.
From messy play to toddler birthday party games, we’ve got you covered.
Games for toddlers at home
If you’re looking for activities and games to entertain your toddler at home, we have a heap of suggestions for you.
When you’re caring for a toddler, the days can seem very long – especially when you’re stuck indoors. Try the following activities to pass the time:
Not just a box
For this game, you’ll need a box. It can be any size, but most kids would agree the bigger the box the better.
First of all, you need to ask the toddler what the box should be. A car? A rocket? A television? This can also be a sign to let you know what your kid’s interests are.
When the choice is made, it’s time to make it. You might need to get creative with scissors, but your toddler can help with the decorating. Once the box is ready (and dry, if you opted for paints), it’s time to use your imagination and go on some adventures.
For this game, your toddler has to go on a mission and select five random objects from around the house. You could end up with a boot, an apple, some toilet paper, a teddy bear, and a jumper – basically anything goes.
Once your child has selected the items, you have to make up a story featuring all five. Older toddlers will be able to have a go at storytelling, too, after you’ve picked out the items for them.
For more inspiration for home-based toddler fun, take a look at Toddler Games – 7 Special Toddler Games.
Toddler messy play
The following suggestions aren’t for the faint-hearted. Your toddlers will absolutely love getting their hands dirty but you might not be so keen on the tidying up that comes afterwards.
Young children rely on all their senses to learn about the world around them and that’s why messy play is usually a big hit with little kids. Messy play is also great for developing their fine motor skills. Try the following messy play ideas for young kids:
This activity needs some forward-planning but it will be worth it. Hide some plastic (easily washable) toys inside some jelly. Once the jelly is ready, give your toddlers a selection of spoons and utensils to free the toys.
They will love the squelch and squish of the jelly between their fingers. This game will help to develop your child’s hand-eye coordination.
For this, you’ll need a toddler apron and a big table to work at. Set out some paints and some vegetables, and let your toddler paint a vegetable picture on the paper.
You can cut shapes out of potato halves for potato printing, which always looks great, or you can use the natural shapes of the vegetables to paint with. For example, carrot tops or celery leaves will give an interesting effect. Make sure you have wipes and a warm bath ready for when you’re done.
Toddler party games
If you’re hosting a toddler birthday party, you’re probably looking for games that will keep your guests entertained. You want games that are simple, fun, and safe.
Here are a couple of suggestions for fun party games that will help develop gross motor skills:
This toddler-friendly version of Musical Chairs is bound to be a hit at a toddler birthday party. Unlike the original name, you won’t need to find lots of chairs for this game. The kids simply have to sit on their bottoms as soon as the music stops. The last one standing is out. Have prizes handy for the best and funniest dancers; it will get the kids moving and having fun.
Dance-off with a difference
Toddlers will love this game. First, because it involves dancing – and toddlers love dancing – but also because it involves pulling funny faces. When the music stops, the kids have to do whatever you’ve said. For example, pull the scariest face, pull the funniest face etc.
It’s a form of Musical Statues so they need to stay still, too. Anyone moving is disqualified, but have plenty of prizes to hand out for the best faces.
Toddler board games
Your toddler might not be ready for complicated family games like Monopoly, but there are board games you can enjoy together. The key to toddler board games is to keep them short and sweet, and maybe allow some flexibility with the rules (for your sanity).
We think these are some of the best board games for toddlers:
Bimi Boo Wooden Matching Pairs
If you love wooden toys, you will love this toddler board game. It features 100 wooden discs, making up 50 pairs to play with. There are five different themes to choose from so you can switch up every time you play. Choose from animals, shapes, fruits and veggies, numbers, and transport. This wooden toy is eco-friendly, non-toxic and lots of fun to play with. Your child will love figuring out where the matching pairs are hiding.
Bluey is a firm favorite around the world and your Bluey fan is bound to love this themed board game. The aim of the game is to be the first one to the picnic. Players need to stay out of the shadows and collect enough cupcake cars to get to the picnic. This fun game is based on a popular Bluey episode. This is a great first board game for older toddlers. Designed for ages three and over.
Free toddler games
There are some fun toddler apps and games that will keep kids entertained for five minutes so you can enjoy a cup of tea in peace. Some kids have access to a toddler-proofed tablet; others might get to play with a parent’s phone.
Whatever your setup, the following apps are free toddler games your child will love:
Elmo Loves 123s Lite
This free app is full of games, activities and videos to help your kid learn about numbers and counting. This preview app by Sesame Street will teach your child the numbers 1, 2 and 3. Lovable Elmo will guide your children through the app as they learn about counting and adding up. There is a paid-for version of the app that features the numbers 1-20. This free app, though, will keep your kid entertained for a while.
Hungry Caterpillar Play School
The Hungry Caterpillar is a childhood favorite, so your child is sure to love this educational toddler app. Designed for children aged 2-5, the app features The Very Hungry Caterpillar and some of Eric Carle’s other popular characters. Your child will learn early maths skills, language and literacy, and problem-solving skills when playing with this app.
You can find more free games and apps recommended by BellyBelly here: Toddler Games | 10 Toddler Games That Are Free