Finding something to keep toddler busy without a screen always feels good!
As moms we often find times where we need to get things done, but our toddlers or little ones want to be held. Attached to mommy’s hips no matter what she needs to get done.
…or your toddler is happy while you are working on dinner or cleaning. But, they are getting into mischief coloring on the walls or getting into food in the pantry.
Hopefully this post will give you some quick ideas to get your toddler entertained just long enough for you to tidy up the living room, cook dinner, or get some focused work done if your a work at home mom like me.
Why is my toddler so busy?
Toddler’s are busy because they are learning. They learn through exploration. So, it makes sense that if you don’t give them something to do they will get into mischief.
How do I entertain my toddler all day?
It may feel like your toddler needs to be entertained all day, which can be frustrating. Especially during meal time or if you have to work from home.
As a work at home mom I know this struggle. Feeling like I’m a horrible mom if I’m ignoring my toddler’s need for entertainment to try to meet a work deadline on my computer.
Also, the struggle of actually keep them entertained while not glued to the floor with their eyes fixed on a TV screen or electronic device.
Whenever possible it’s great to keep your toddler engaged and learning, even when your busy.
Here are some non-screen toddler entertainment ideas:
1. Toddler Sensory Bins
There are tons of tips below for keeping your toddler entertained. But, one of my favorite is toddler sensory bins.
Sensory bins are easy to put together with large bins, colored rice, kinetic sand, scoops, and toys. They will keep your toddler entertained for ages and you can easily switch out the toys each time they play with them or keep different themed bins ready to go.
Here are some things we love to get you started making easy sensory bins:
2. No or Little Mess Art
Same idea as food. Put your toddler in a high chair with something they can safely make art with. Some non-toxic finger paints or toddler friendly crayons.
Here are some no mess art projects your toddler or preschooler can do!
3. Toy Swap
Keep small toy bins hidden in a cupboard or the garage and pull them out to keep your toddler busy.
We have a large ottoman where I will set out some toys my toddler hasn’t seen in a while and he plays for hours. I usually keep it the same theme (cars, action figures, barbies, blocks, crayons). Just leave them there when they aren’t looking and let them discover it… then enjoy some me time.
Sit your toddler down in a high chair or at the table if they will stay with some breakfast or lunch. LET them get messy with yogurt, spaghetti noodles, or cereal and milk.
They might need a bath afterwards, but this will give you 30 minutes to get something done.
5. Music and Stories
I am in love with our Google Home Mini because I can ask it to play children’s songs or to tell a story to my toddler. They get entranced with it, usually dancing around the living room for a good 30 minutes while I get a few things done.
6. Go Outdoors
Get a playhouse, water table, or sandbox for your kids to play with outside. This is a great place to go when I need to get some work done for my home business. Toddler is contained in the fenced in yard and it is a nice refresher to work for a while outdoors.
Sorting– Give your toddler some different color items to sort into the same color cups. Toddlers love learning activities like this.
Dress Up– Keep a dress up chest and get it out when you need to get things done. Your toddler will love trying on different clothes and getting things out of the chest.
Pots and Pans– If you are trying to cook in the kitchen get some pots, pans, and spoons out for your toddler. They will love making music with them and being close to mom at the same time.
Large Puzzles– Buy some large puzzles and matching games for your toddler to play with in a pinch.
On-the-go bags– Put together some on-the-go bags for your toddler to play with while travelling or at a doctors appointment. You can include crayons, paper, or toys to keep them busy.
Favorite Toddler Toys and Activities
Melissa & Doug Latches Board
The Melissa & Doug Wooden Latches Board is an entertaining and educational activity play board that helps kids build dexterity as they navigate latches that hook, snap, click, and slide.
Toddler Busy Board - Montessori Sensory Board
Let kids learn and practise essential dressing skills at their own pace while playing.
Playahoy Apple Lacing Plastic Threading Toy
Help the caterpillar munch through the delicious red apple by threading the caterpillar in and out of the sleek holes. Help the worm reach all 16 holes!
Playskool Sit ‘n Spin
Remember when you discovered how to sit, spin, and giggle yourself silly. Well, now it’s time for YOUR little one to enjoy the winning spinning fun of this classic sit on spinning activity toy
Crayola Baby Shark Wonder Pages Mess Free
MESS FREE COLORING: Colors appear only on special Color Wonder Paper, not on skin, clothing, or carpets!
Little Tikes Spiralin’ Seas Water Table
Water play table helps develop "put-and-take" and early motor skills with fun characters
FunzBo Arts and Crafts Supplies for Kids
Everything you need is all in 1 Arts & crafts supplies jar so you could create art to your heart's content
VTech Touch and Learn Activity Desk Deluxe
The Touch and Learn Activity Desk Deluxe is an interactive desk and includes five activity pages to explore that are filled with engaging content
Crayola Ultimate Crayon Collection
One Crayola Ultimate Crayon Collection Coloring Set with 152 crayons, 1 crayon sharpener, and 1 portable caddy
Melissa & Doug Color-Your-Own Sticker Pad
Extra-large sticker and coloring activity pad
More tips to get things done with a toddler?
Use some of the tips above to make sure your toddler is entertained. If you are working or need to clean, cook, or just need a break follow these tips.
- Nap Time is a great time to get a nap for yourself. You can also take a chance to get a power hour at work or cleaning.
- Take advantage of times where you have your spouse or a family member available to help babysit your toddler.
- Make sure your house is baby proof, so your toddler can’t get into harms way while you are trying to work around the house. Check out these expert baby proofing tips!
- Try to work your toddler into your routines when you can. Try putting your toddler in a baby carrier while you clean or looking at a book on your lap while you work. Sometimes when the “busy activities” aren’t working you have to get creative.
- If you have to resort to screen time try educational shows that engage your toddler in song and dance. I love Sesame Street and The Wiggles for this!
When do you struggle with keeping your toddler entertained? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
Hi my name is Sarah I’m a mother of six I have 3 children that are adults ages 23,21,19 I had my tubes tied when I was 21 but got them reversed at 28 and had 3 more children my son is 11 and my daughter is 3 and my baby is 1 I feel like the second time around it seems harder been a stay at home and not going to work seems harder to me I’ve been a stay a home mom now for 4 years I could use some help on how to keep my babies busy since they are two years apart I feel like I can’t keep them busy at the same time and if I let them play together they are constantly fighting if I let my 3 year old color and try to let my one year to color to he starts to eat the crayons so does anybody have any opinions on how to keep them both busy while I get my house cleaned up cause I usually have to stop what I’m doing just to give them attention I wish there was two of me cause I feel like I just don’t have enough time for everything I have to do
Hi Sarah, I can totally relate as a mom of 3 ages 11, 4, and 1. For my 4 and 1 year old I try to find things they both can do together. I used to stress about my 1 year old eating crayons, but they are non-toxic, so I tried to let that go and teach him not to eat them. I started buying my kids the jumbo crayons and that helped the baby grip them better and he stopped trying to eat them. They also have Crayola Color Wonder markers that are mess free, sometimes I’ll give them those to play with.
I’m a huge fan of sticker books, reusable stickers, and magnets/magnet books. These keep them entertained for a while either on the refrigerator or in a magnet book.
We have a big stepping stool in the kitchen where they can do dishes together while I clean. I just turn on the water in the kitchen sink, give them some pots and pans, and a few sponges. They LOVE this!
Another idea, is to have a water/sand table, playhouse, and/or kitchen outside. The weather is pretty mild here in California, so sometimes I will leave the back door open while I clean so I can hear them play. You can switch out toys in the sand table to make it more fun and exciting, put water in there with bubbles, or put some coloring in there to make it fun.
Hope these ideas help!
Susan E Stitch
I’m a grandma who babysits my granddaughter full time. When I need to clean the bathroom, I strip her down to her diaper and put her in our shower with a bucket of water and several cups for pouring. She plays for 20 minutes, and I just have to be sure to refill her water bucket occasionally!
I’ve definitely done the same thing when cleaning the bathroom or even if I need to go to the restroom and toddler needs to be in there with me. haha Such a great idea I’ll have to add it to this list.
Yum :) She definitely approves. My kiddo loves these too.
Just don’t eat the crayons by accident hehe :) My son would still eat the crayons…
Haha! Too true, I have to keep an eye on my toddler with those crayons too. Usually she’s okay, but if she gets too quiet I know what’s up. ;)
I’m also a stay at home momma. Its very tough trying to do it all plus raise two teenagers and a 3 year old little man. To keep him busy it really depends on what I’m doing at the time. If I’m folding laundry, I try to make a game out of it and have him fold wash rags with me. If I’m doingthe dishes I have him help me count the forks and spoons. If I’m vacumming he is vaccuming too.Its all about team work even with a littleone.. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Thanks for your insightful comment Kristina. It is hard being a momma. I have my 1 year old doing laundry, dishes, and cooking dinner with me too. Even if she doesn’t know how she likes to put the clothes in piles and watch me cook. I sure hope those teenagers help you too! ;) Thanks for stopping by.