When temperatures fall BELOW freezing during the cold winter months, there’s no way anyone wants to hang outdoors, let alone take the little ones out to play for hours. But how can a mom keep her sanity when she’s stuck indoors facing toddler tantrums and random acts of household destruction?
What indoor activities can she do with a toddler??
Well after much trial and error, I found a plethora of options out there for moms to take advantage of. Sometimes you have to be a little creative to find things that work well for your kids; other times you simply have to open your eyes to what’s right there in front of you.
Here are 7 indoor play ideas to keep your toddler busy during the winter months:
1. Indoor Play Gyms
I started bringing Chili to our local baby gym at 6 months to help build essential motor skills and coordination. The gyms were so much fun, but I stopped going when he reached his first birthday due to time constraints. What I didn’t realize is that this type of place was EXACTLY what he needed during the winter months when he was eager to run around the house and throw balls all day. These gyms are perfect for letting toddlers release some of that wild energy when playing outside is out of the question. If you don’t have one nearby, learn how to make your own play gym at home!
2. Sensory Bins
Sensory bins are a great learning and development activity that appeal to your child’s senses in a fun way. They are visually, textually and audiblyappealing and can even help your toddler with a variety of skills from fine motor to counting or matching. The key is to grab a few containers, bins, bottles or even sealed plastic bags and fill them with an array of objects around the house that your child can explore — you can pretty much use anything as long as it’s child-friendly. Try things like toys and food (balls, plastic dinos, blocks, uncooked pasta) or keep them seasonal (sea shells, feathers, pretend snow). The possibilities are endless.
3. Building Forts
I love it when I come back from running a quick errand to find the hubby transforming a cardboard box into an obstacle course or fort for our son. It’s truly amazing the things you can create with a box, duct tape & scissors! Not only does it provide hours of entertainment but my little boy gets a kick out of destroying the box once he’s had enough of it.
4. Pretend Play
Pretend play is such a fun milestone to watch in your child. Whether your child begins to “feed” his stuffed animals “drive off” in his car or grab a wooden spoon and bowl to “prepare some food” it truly is an amazing developmental shift to witness. Pretend play is ideal for growing toddlers, so it’s important to provide them some small chunks of “alone time” (supervising them from a distance) to watch them at it. I love it when I find Chili playing with his dinos or stuffed animals and seeing how he makes them “talk” and “share” food. Super cute!
5. Arts & Crafts
For the longest time I decided to avoid any activity involving crayons and paints since our guy would either chew off the crayon tips or just make much-more-than-I-could-handle-mess with finger paint. But I realized you have to keep introducing arts and crafts and try to see what they respond to best. If the little ones don’t get much use out of crayons try round tip washable markers [affiliate link], chalk or even stickers to get the little artist in them a chance to shine. Getting creative can get messy, but they are so important for learning and development…and can be made from simple things like paper plates or toilet paper rolls!
6. Books & Music
Sometimes all you have to do is take the mundane to another level. Next time you break out the board books make sure you use all your quirkiest voices and skills to animate the characters and get your child into the story. Of course you’ll also want to pick short books that can hold their attention.
You can also pump up some music and have a little dance party right in your living room. Toddlers love jumping around and mimicking adults so it would be a great time to show them some moves. Just find some kid-friendly songs and rock out!
7. Waterworks in the BathTub
Oh yes, after I saw how much fun my toddler has during bath time in the evenings, I realized this is really something I need to be doing during the day when I’ve run out of games or activities for him to do. He already loves splashing around in the tub with his water toys and buckets, so I like to add some bath bubbles (or even blow bubbles) to help him have even more fun! Not only does he have a blast, but I also knock something off my to-do list and help stimulate his senses before bedtime!
Hope this list will help you find something fun for the little one even during the coldest of months!
Have any other indoor activities your toddler loved? Let me know in the comments, please!
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Ana, a mom to three rambunctious little boys, has supported thousands of women throughout their pregnancy and motherhood journey since 2012 as a prenatal and postpartum educator at MommysBundle.com.