Toddlers are funny things. They require constant attention and play just to keep their busy minds away from all their troubles in life (mainly teeth.)
My little man is no different. Well ok, maybe he is a bit different but never mind… Here are some some of the ways that I keep him entertained, they may even work on other kids too!
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How to entertain a toddler
This could last for hours. Quite how any adult could beat a toddler in a marathon is beyond me. Robbie can just run and run all day, whilst poor dad needs a sit down and an energy drink after around 30 seconds, so that’s when the time comes to cheat a little…
Show them what they look like
Mirrors, pictures and videos of Robbie always seem to make him smile.
My personal favourite is to record him laughing when playing during the day and show him all the videos I have taken at a later time. Now either Robbie is extremely vain and just enjoys looking at himself or the sound of laughter makes him happy. I would prefer to think it’s the latter, but I really don’t mind too much.
Nothing makes him stop and have the time of his life more than watching himself on video, film star of the future?
This ultimate cheat takes a little preparation by ensuring you have your phone at the ready when playing before the exhaustion kicks in, but the results are phenomenal.
Peek a boo
This one is a sure winner. Popular with every child ever born and one of the few forms of Child entertainment that can be performed entirely from a seated position.
Robbie has loved this since he was a week old and it is still going strong 18 months later.
For those living on the moon, this is a simple game where you cover your face then say boo. For those looking for a more challenging version, try covering your child’s eyes instead. This game really has no limits.
Perhaps he will grow out of it soon and I will have to trawl the web for sensible ways to amuse a toddler. I hope not.
Now I realise this will be the most controversial choice on the list but it may also be the most sensible thing I write in this post.
Kids television has changed and it has evolved rapidly. It is no longer simply crazy cartoon characters with no meaning. If you find the right channels, TV can be both educational and interactive.
Our family favourites right now include Gecko the mechanic, due to Robbie’s love of cars, and Badamanu songs (Both on Youtube)
Gecko teaches all about vehicles, numbers and the alphabet and is great for when Robbie needs some downtime to sit quietely and focus. He shouts the numbers before Gecko so I guess our little green friend can take credit for teaching Robbie to count before he can even talk properly.
Badamanu is non-stop upbeat music that keeps Robbie (and Mum and Dad) dancing around the room together but again, also teaches the alphabet, numbers and shapes.
Of course, there is also a lot of rubbish out there. One American song about a granny practicing shooting her pistol being one example.
Take a walk
Now this may actually seem like a load of effort as trying to get a toddler to stand still and get dressed to go outside can feel like a scene from Mission Impossible. Once you’ve achieved this however, the rest is easy.
Robbie loves seeing the great outdoors. He spends half of his day staring out the window and spooking the neighbours so even a little walk to the shop makes him happy. One of his favourite places to visit is Admirals park in Chelmsford as there is so much wide open space for him to run around and burn off energy. It can even result in a slightly sleepier and more controllable beast later in the evening.
Get out in your garden
Obviously, some similar benefits to the walk but much simpler. Make sure your garden is full of toys and things to do as well as being safe and secure. My garden is packed with footballs, mini trampolines, swings and cars to keep the boss happy. The only small negative of the garden is his absolute determination to eat a stone, I have thwarted many attempts but some have been pretty close!
Sing a song
Every kid has a song (or many) that will make him slow up and pay attention. Fortunately you do not need a great voice or any classical training for this. Robbie’s top tune Is ‘You are my Robster’ sang to the tune of You are my sunshine and I have sung this to him since he was one day old. This works particularly well if you have any actions or dances to go with it that they can interact with.
A very complicated choice this one as The Robster LOVES bubbles. The Robster also HATES when the bubbles go. This causes a constant loop of emotional turmoil for us all as the bubbles float gracefully before vanishing faster than our hopes of a good night’s sleep. If you want a few minutes of peace, I would strongly advise getting yourself a bubble machine to make life easier. Click the picture below to check out some great machines on amazon.
Find your kids soft play centre
There are some days when outside play just is not possible. Particularly in the UK where this covers around ten months of the year.
Kids soft play centres are ideal places to go and let your child burn off any extra energy and have the time of their lives! Many will also have their own cafe aswell so it may even save the hassle of trying to make a meal whilst your little angel causes terror.
Food makes everyone happy. This is maybe more a tip for entertaining humans rather than just toddlers but never mind!
Make sure you are stocked up with healthy snacks for when your child gets restless as they can save you a lot of headaches. Keep a good stock supply of chopped fruit, Veg and other healthy snacks ready to insert straight into the gob when the screaming starts.
Go for a bath
Most kids love baths and Robbie is no different. Rather than Considering bath time to be an essential chore, view it as a great chance to play in a different atmosphere.
Fill the bath with toys, play games and most importantly let your kids have fun!! Robbie loves to splash and I will usually end up just as wet as him when the time comes to get out but it is well worth it for the fun…. And the nice clean boy!
Bounce bounce bounce!
Cheap, easy and fun! Bouncing is sure to make your toddler smile and laugh. Many parents will use a bouncing ball but there are so many ways to do this.
Personally, we have a tiny trampoline in the garden and a bouncing hippo indoors (Due to my better half’s inexplicable obsession with the animal!) Most of the time we use neither and bouncing him on our laps or on the floor can be just as fun.
There are also some great songs out there to encourage this, if you haven’t heard ‘hop little bunny’ at least 3 thousand times you really are missing out. Just remember to always keep hold of your child whilst they are bouncing as they can get a little carried away!
Let them help
So we all know that toddlers are not particularly helpful beings (apologies to any toddlers reading this) but they really do want to be.
It is not easy for me to do anything with Robbie around but letting him join in makes life a whole lot easier. For example, when trying to wash up I give him a towel and a few of his plastic plates and spoons to help me out. I realise that these will just end up hidden in strange areas of the house and need cleaning again but it is a small price to pay to buy yourself a little time.
A few child friendly replicas of things you use every day can also help with this. Robbie has his own mini plastic phone which I hand him every time he tries to steal mine.
Toys and ‘special toys’
The most obvious way to keep a child amused is simple, loads of toys! Right now Robbie has a love of cars and trucks and the house is littered with them. It’s always good to have toys that help with his development as well. Many of our toys help with counting, shapes and animals and although the constant noises may give me a headache it is good to know they are helping the little man’s development.
We also have some ‘special toys’ that are not always out and available. It’s wise to have a weapon up your sleeve for those times when he is getting bored of his normal gear or I need 5 minutes to actually achieve anything in my own life.
Have a dummy ready
I have no idea how these work but they are magical. The wizard that created them should be remembered as one of the world’s greatest heroes. There should be statues in the street and perhaps even national holidays in their honour. National dummy day has a nice ring to it as well.
Anyway, dummies calm babies and toddlers down in seconds. We are currently in the process of weening Robbie away from his but in times of needs such as a bump or an extravagant strop, it is still our saviour.
Find them some company
Particularly useful for an only child such as Robbie. He loves watching other children so arranging a play date, visiting a friend with kids, parks, and play areas are all winners. Social interaction is also crucial to a child’s development so it is always good to mix with other children whenever you can. Even a video call to another kid can be an absolute winner.
Baby classes and other child meeting groups are fantastic. As well as meeting other kids they will gain all kinds of skills through educational play and songs.
We currently attend Hartbeeps classes every week where he let’s loose and goes crazy in a room full of other insane kids and bewildered parents. If you have a class locally, I’d highly recommend you check it out. https://www.hartbeeps.com/
Such simplicity but so effective. A small rubber, bouncy ball can provide hours of fun. As long as you are willing to play the dog in a game of fetch, kids will spend a huge amount of time throwing and watching you go and bring it back to them. If the ball flashes, even better!
I hate being tickled, as do most adults. Kids on the other hand find it so completely hilarious and will come back begging for more.
The exact age that being tickled stops bringing the feeling of ecstasy and changes to contempt is unclear but for now it deserves a place on this list.
If all of these tips fail, there is one last solution….
Let someone else do it
Nurseries are fantastic places. They will cover almost every one of the tips above whilst you can relax at home!
Robbie only goes for 1 half day session per week but he really enjoys himself each time. He loves all of his teachers and the other kids there as well as learning to spend just a little bit of separation from Mummy and I.
All of the staff there are amazing and some even turned up to surprise him at his 1st birthday party. I couldn’t recommend this nursery highly enough and anyone in the Clacton area should certainly take a look at chestnut grove nursery.
Thanks for reading! If I have missed anything or you a great idea of how to entertain a toddler please drop it in the comments. For those that haven’t already, check out my ‘Diary of Dad’ series below. They are only short and will hopefully bring a smile to your face!