10 Clever Ways to Keep Your Tiny Toddler Busy

by Melissa Willets

10 Clever Ways to Keep Your Tiny Toddler Busy

We’ve found 10 activities geared toward tiny toddlers—1 and 2 years old—that are safe, fun and sure to tire out your tot by bedtime.


If you’re a parent of a 1- or 2-year-old, you’ve probably noticed that most activities are geared toward kids 3 and up. But your young toddler is walking and climbing now, and he needs constant stimulation or else, well, he’s going to find something to do, and it may not be mom approved. We’ve found 10 activities geared toward tiny toddlers that are safe, fun and sure to tire out your tot by bedtime.


1. Tried but true


Toddlers don’t require complicated toys and activities to keep them busy. A simple water table or a large bin filled with water can engage a toddler for hours. Of course, you’ll need to supervise your sweetie at all times, as even a small amount of water can present a danger to a small child. And be sure to provide tons of cups, squirt toys, balls and assorted other water-friendly objects to extend the fun!


2. Including the kitchen sink


When weather prevents your peewee from playing outside, you can still use water to keep him occupied; just plop him on a foot stool or chair at the kitchen sink! Sponges, suds, spoons and measuring cups all add up to at least an hour of entertainment.


3. True mess-free painting


We know; you’ve heard the phrase “mess-free painting” before, but it never turns out to be true. Believe it this time, because your busy little bee isn’t even going to make contact with the paint. Instead, you fill a plastic Ziploc bag with paint, and secure it to a window. The sensation of moving the paint around the bag is what keeps your kiddo interested. See, no mess!


4. Kitchen staple reimagined


What toddler doesn’t love opening up kitchen cabinets and emptying the contents? Then this activity involves something your little one is probably very familiar with: a colander. All you do is weave pipe cleaners in and out of the little holes, and let him pull out the ends and try to stick ’em back in. Simple, smart and it won’t get old for a long time!


5. Edible fun


Since toddlers put everything in their mouths, why not let ’em? This activity is sensory play at its best—and grossest! Edible sludge is easy to make and mushy enough to engross a toddler for much longer than yet another attempt at coloring.


6. Go ahead and play with your dinner


Another activity little kids can eat involves a pasta sensory bin. Touching, squeezing, throwing, eating; it’s all good when your a tot in a bin full of linguine noodles! Just be sure to use longer cooked pasta shapes, like linguine or spaghetti, so as not to pose a choking hazard for your hungry honey.


7. Homemade musical shakers


Every little kid is a peewee percussionist-in-training, so why not help him get his groove on and make instruments right in your own home? You’ll need a plastic container that can be tightly closed and beans, rice or seeds, and voila! Your baby band is in business.


8. The ultimate busy box


Do you have a box, a pencil and ribbon? Great, you now possess the items needed to occupy your toddler while you cook dinner. This DIY tugging box is cheaper than any toy and will likely engage your curious cutie for much longer.


9. Back to basics


Nothing delights young children more than bubbles. Why not try making your own? It’ll be so worth witnessing the glee on your wee one’s face as she chases them around the yard with an abandon only a munchkin can muster.


10. Sideways streamers


Save this simple yet genius idea for a rainy day: tape streamers from wall-to-wall in a hallway or small room and let your little one bust through ’em. Caution: giggles ahead!