DIY, Parenting, Parenting Hacks

Keeping Your Toddler Engaged – Three Easy Ideas

This week has been a good week for blogging, eh? I know for a fact that next week would not be the same, so here I go with the next post before things get too busy. 

So, how many times a day do you wish your toddler spent a few minutes by himself/herself so that you could finish something ? It could be for anything like fixing a meal or putting a batch of clothes to dry or just to take five whole minutes to use the loo. At such times, I, for one am desperate for an activity that needs minimal supervision but can also keep the toddler occupied for a few minutes at a stretch. After months of experimenting with many things, I have realized that there are very things that almost always work for us and today, I am going to share our little secret(s) with all of you. Because I know the feels, sisters (and brothers). 

As much as I admire all these creative parents who come up with great activities to keep their kid(s) engaged, I do not have the patience nor the creativity to do such stuff. I do get ‘Pinspired’ all the time, but the number of times I actually take the time to do what I see is far and few between.

If I go by what some of my friends say, I know I am not the only lazy mom out there and that makes me really happy. *evil grin* 

Since making him sit with a bowl of fries or ice cream or letting him watch a video on YouTube isn’t always an option, let me introduce you to three easy-peasy, engaging, inexpensive activities that will (hopefully) keep your toddler occupied while you get a few minutes to finish whatever it is that you want to do. 

Activity #1: Doodling and Coloring

You will need:

  • Paper/Whiteboard/Blackboard/Notebooks
  • Non-Toxic Coloring Material (crayons, color pencils, water colors, etc.)

This is one of the least expensive activities to keep your toddler engaged while you can go on about your work. 

Charts or larger pieces of paper work better than notebooks since they have more space to explore. This requires minimal supervision unless your toddler is still in the I-will-mouth-everything-I-can-lay-my-eyes-on phase. Also, I’d highly recommend getting larger sized crayons and color pencils as they are more sturdy.

If you are skeptical about using store-bought paints or have some time in hand, make your own. Yogurt+natural food colors (fruit purees, pureed spinach, turmeric, etc.) make for easy edible paints.

Large whiteboards and washable markers work well too.

We even converted his first birthday party standee into a blackboard of sorts (the back of it was already black and had a very blackboard kind of feel to it) and A loves scribbling with a chalk on this. I don’t let him do this when one of us is not around though, because I have caught him trying to nibble pieces of the chalk piece one too many times. *rolls eyes*

Activity #2: Ball Tube 

You will need:

  • Plastic/ Ping Pong Balls (as many as you have)
  • Cardboard tube (you can use the tube that comes with aluminium foil or kitchen towels or make your own with thick chart paper or a cereal carton like what I did)
  • Heavy duty double sided tape (heavy duty because you don’t want the tube coming off in two minutes – see how lopsided our tube already is?!)
  • A basket/container 

This is a very simple activity (a no-brainer actually) to set up, costs almost nothing since you would have everything needed at home and it has kept A occupied for 15-20 minute stretches at least.

Activity #3: Fun with Pipe Cleaners

You will need:

  • Pipe cleaners (different colors and sizes)
  • A colander

    This is another really simple activity that is great for developing fine motor skills, color identification, etc. For older kids, you can skip the colander and just make shapes and little things with the pipe cleaners, maybe?

    Bonus Activity: Books!

    This should have ideally been the first activity. This is what I rely on the most. Touch and feel books, books with flaps, sound books are a forever a favorite in this household.

    I lay out a variety of books so that he can pick what he wants to ‘read’. Adding other fun stuff like little toys, finger puppets etc. that go with the theme of the books will buy you a few more precious minutes.

    Bonus Activity #2: 

    Get this vegetables/fruit cutting toy set if you find it anywhere. Just get it. You can thank me later! 

    What are some of the favorite activities in your household?  Tell me!

    7 thoughts on “Keeping Your Toddler Engaged – Three Easy Ideas”

    1. A bit messy but I use rubber sheet/bedsheet below and give my kid Chapathi dough rolled like a worm or a circle and sphagetti sticks. Just ask the kid to poke on the dough.

      I found this online – Same dough made into several balls and poke a wooden skewer. Give him some penne pasta tubes and insert penne’s into the skewer.

      Messy to the power of Eww activity but gives more time for me in the kitchen – potato masher/fork with some tomatoes, chapathi dough, mushy fruits that we don’t feel like eating :))

      You are a super mom – Be it cooking new dishes, Baking such wonderful goodies. I just about manage to cook regular meals :((


    2. A valuable activity for this adhvik. I havnt tried giving coloring activity yet. He wont take evrything into his mouth, still i was in a dilemma. Since now u gave a valuable idea of making natural colours. We are gonna begin with tat.

      Most of the time how i engage him is by giving wheat flour dusting box. He pours it is in the floor spreads it 🙈and creates some art (he thinks so)😉


    3. Hi madhumitharam,really thanks for the tips ur giving for toddler mom’s.Especiallyprevious post it’s so amazing.”keep calm and parent on”I lyk ur ideas.i want some birthday party ideas from u on blog.


    4. Lovely writeup Madhu. The present day parents have to think of easy yet creative ideas to keep kids engaged irrespective of their age😀 Building blocks and puzzles have been a major boon for me in addition to books and artwork, when my daughter was a toddler. Keep writing!!!


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