Toddler’s Activities

Q.  Anybody have suggestions on keeping a toddler busy so I can have time for the new baby in the home and have time to spend with my older girl so she’s not glued to the TV?

A.  I have a 21 month old and it can be a challenge.  I’m also due in December with #2. : )

A.  The first and best suggestion I can give is to get and learn how to use a sling.  Once you know how to use it with confidence, you’ll have both hands free to do other things.  You can even nurse virtually hands free!  I know my toddler loves going outside for walks or collecting fall leaves in a basket (baby kept warm and happy carried next to you in a sling).  You could also sling the baby while coloring, building with wood blocks or mega blocks, reading books, or finger-painting (1 cup flour, 1 cup water, 1 tsp salt, and food coloring).  My toddler also likes "helping" with sweeping the kitchen floor, vacuuming, and putting toys away.  We bought her a toddler sized broom ($6) and vacuum ($10) ….you can do almost any stand up chores (except dishes) with the baby in a sling.  A lot of malls have toddler/preschool play areas that you could go to during the day (they are less busy during the day…so safer for younger toddlers) and the sling would let your hands be free to help your toddler climb around.  See what I mean about it being so helpful?

A.  My two children are 14 months apart, now 4 and 5.  You expressed concern about keeping your older girl occupied and not glued to the TV set.  What I have to suggest may sound severe but I firmly believe that it is one of the best things I ever did for my family…..  GET RID OF THE TV.  I never thought I was the kind of mother who used tv as a babysitter until we got rid of ours.  Several times a day I would find myself thinking, "Is Dragon Tails on yet?"  This only lasted for about a week.  Without the television draining energy from my children they PLAY.  I don’t need to furnish anything more than the boxes of crayons, stencils, and papers that are under the coffee table.  They will play with play-dough for literally hours at the dining table.  All of these things I get at a dollar store.   When mine were that little I used to put dried beans in different sized containers in the high chair and hand the children a spoon.  They would sit there developing their hand-eye coordination and other skills by transferring the beans from one container to the other.  Muffin tins are great too. 

A.  If the idea of not having a TV makes you feel isolated keep in mind that the internet is a much better source of up-to-date news than TV.  We do have a video card in our computer and cable internet service so we can actually watch TV on our computer.  The children don’t know anything about it and we can still watch the news during emergencies. -Mary

A.  I used to take my granddaughter to all the free outdoor activites that were appropriate for her age, symphony concerts by the lake at the local University, feeding the ducks at the lake, free activities at the outdoor theater in the local area. Not only did we enjoy the music, there were other children with whom she could play. Free items at the local radio station mobile van, free audio tapes, free hot dogs, free pizza, etc. They announce in our area where the van is each day. There is usually a list of public activities in the newspaper. The local colleges and universities have some of the most interesting activities. At the same university that has the symphony concerts by the lake, free, they also have the military bands during the year inside, free. Children love music and can really sit through such a concert as they have breaks. If you sit in the front row, they are fascinated by the performers playing the musical instruments and will be unbelievably quiet during the performances. The public library also has many activities for toddlers, story hours, etc.  Playing in the local park is also something we’d do. Although you can play at home, it is fun to change the place where you play. There are also other children with whom they can play. May The Angels Watch Over You, Betty G.

A.  I don’t know if this site will help you but I got this in a newsletter I get today.  It’s the Kellogs activity site.  Hope it’s useful. http://www.kelloggs.com/ From  CSinbad

A.  Check out the perpetual preschool (one word) website.  It’s got all kinds of themes that are easy so you should find something there.  http://www.perpetualpreschool.com –Shelly

A.  My older boy was 19.5 months when little brother was born. One craft idea is to make edible finger paint. Simply make a flour paste of the right consistency then add food coloring. Can be used on freezer paper or just regular paper.  Another idea is put clear contact paper on the refrigerator, sticky side out, then give her pictures, yarn, fabric, different papers to stick on it. To save, cover with another piece of contact paper, or I leave it up for a while and Jonathan rearranges things at will. –Dawn

A.  Music!  Invest in some tapes/CD’s geared for children.  Our personal favorites are "The Donut Man", and the "1st, 2nd,etc Sunday School Songs". Not only are these entertaining, they instill our faith into our children’s minds and hearts.  Your little one will be dancing and singing all over the place!  It’s amazing how fast she will absorb the songs.  While she is listening to the music, just let her play with her toys and explore on her own.  Always be close at hand for hugs and kisses!  We parents want our children to be able to play/learn by themselves.  We aren’t here to "entertain" our children.  We are here to raise them to be responsible adults.  Our culture emphasized "entertaining" too much.  And you are right about limiting the TV!  If a child watches too much TV, she/he loses her natural creativity and has to be spoon fed entertainment.  It doesn’t matter if it is educational or not…the TV is NOT good for our precious little ones.  My husband and I have 4 blessings ranging from 16 years, down to 10 months.  Enjoy every moment!  This time goes way too fast!  Lori

A.  I had 3 children in less than 4 yrs – for the far distant future – encourage hobbies – keeps them busy and with mine, they still have the same hobbies. –Pat

A.  Have you thought about taking another child in two days a week? You can make some extra money and your 19-month old daughter will have a playmate.  They will parallel play but kids are fascinated by other kids.  I recommend a playmate who is a little older who she can learn from. Also, I recommend story time at your local library or bookstore. You can advertise as a caregiver for free on Yahoo classifieds or contact a non-profit organization like 4Cs. –Kimber

A.  Here’s a good website for toddler activities and crafts.  I hope you can use it for your little one.  http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/toddler/  God Bless,  Joyce Steinmiller

A.  I want to let you know that I understand fully how difficult it is to care for two babies.  My grandson is also 19 months old and his new sister is one week old. Luckily, I live in same apartment bldg. with my son and his family so a built in baby sitter helps.  My grandson likes household items better than toys.  He is so very active and nothing holds his interest for long. He loves empty thread spools, plastic food containers and looks at catalogs for hours especially those with seasonal items, pumpkins, skulls, Santa, etc.  He is also into the big crayons and we all have a "masterpiece" on our walls.Since money is so tight for most of us, these "toys" are worth their weight in gold.  The good toys are for the times he is really fussy. Take care and have fun with the precious little ones.   Bobbie

A.  This was an idea I got from a preschool teacher. Take dad’s shaving cream and put big globs on the table Let them write in it, draw in it or just squeeze it !! It’s very safe, it’s just soap. But I wouldn’t want them to think it’s frosting and just eat it 🙂 Lisa

A.  From the ideas listed here, though it may seem like it is only for young children, you will find something for every age — from the smallest toddler up, including parents and grandparents.  Those who babysit could also use many of these activities.

A. When my children were little, trying to have a telephone conversation was almost impossible without constantly running to see what they were doing. My boys liked to play office so I decided to make up a ‘telephone’ purse (I called it a briefcase).  In the ‘briefcase’ I put plastic spoons, plastic measuring cups, junk mail papers to play office, small toys. The rule was that when the phone would ring,  they were allowed to pull out the ‘briefcase’ and play with it if they stayed right with me. When the phone conversation was done, everything went back in the ‘briefcase’ until the next time the phone rang. Occasional little surprises from the dollar store would be added periodically that they could ‘keep’ after the phone call was done. –Burnice

A. I am not a parent but I have learned some things by doing a lot of babysitting.  There is one single mother in particular I admired, because her children were so sweet, capable, and responsible.  Her trick was to get the children helping her with the housework as early as possible.  A child who helps with housework from two years old will take to it more enthusiastically than one who is asked to help out for the first time when they are ten.  A two year old may not be able to do much, but they WANT to help.  Her two year old could set the table for dinner and loved doing the "important job."  He could only carry two plates at a time (which I would take down from the cupboards for him), and sometimes the spoons were on the wrong side, but with praise and encouragement and gentle suggestions rather than criticism, he could feel proud and happy with his work and everybody benefited.  He could also make his own bed and pick up his toys and put them in the toy box and on the lower shelves.  Her six year old would help me make dinner. About the only thing she could not do was use a sharp knife on her own. I never knew the kids to argue about helping out, because they understood that every family member pitches in, and that’s just the way families work.  And I think her children had about the healthiest self-esteem of any kids I know. Just a thought. -Holly

A. One of my favorite projects for little ones was to acquire a large roll of paper. Cut off a large piece  and let them color or draw to there hearts content. Then later when a little older with scissors that have round points, they love to cut , cut, cut, making their own designs and shapes, and their hand and foot prints. "Oh such beautiful shapes." I felt this teaches them coordination and control and confidence in using their hands and fingers. "Besides what child doesn’t love to make snips." I hope this helps and congratulations and have a nice day. Audrey

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