Toddler Tips for Indoor Play
When they can’t burn up energy outdoors, caring for toddlers is no easy task. Until you can get outside to play with your little bundle of energy, use well-planned, quality indoor play to combat your toddler’s spring fever. Penny Warner, author of “365 Toddler Tips” has great suggestions for how to achieve quality indoor play time with your toddler. Creative solutions like play dates, new things to play with and games like hide-and-seek can help you to entertain your toddler without tearing the house apart.
According to Warner, “Play dates offer a valuable natural forum for your toddler to develop many skills, especially language and social skills.” If done correctly, the play date can also be a tool to keep your toddler entertained before spring fever drives you both crazy. Here are some tips for creating a good play date experience:
Invite only one.
Start out slowly with just one other parent and toddler. Allow your child to become used to playing with (or along side) another child. Later, you may want to expand the group, but four toddlers are about the limit for a successful play date.
Time it right.
Set a time, such as midmorning, when the toddlers are at their best. Overtired, hungry or cranky kids won’t add to the fun. And avoid overscheduling. Every day or even every other day is probably too often; once or twice a week is about right.
Start in neutral territory.
Schedule the first few play dates on neutral ground, such as at an indoor community play area. That way neither child will have the advantage with “well, it’s my house” behavior.
Another great way to harness the creative energy that’s bubbling up inside your toddler is to use everyday household objects as toys. This will add new excitement to being indoors, and it’ll save you money on the cost of fancy toys.
Warner says, “Toddlers enjoy toys that appeal to their senses. Here are some suggestions for household toys that will enhance physical, cognitive and psychological development:”
• Aluminum pie tins
• Balled-up socks
• Cardboard tubes
• Empty boxes
• Measuring cups
• Pan and wooden spoon
• Plastic bottles, bowls, cups or cookie cutters
• Table covered with blanket or sheet
You may also try a more active indoor game, like hide-and-seek. Here are some variations on this classic game that your toddler will love:
Where’s the toy?
Choose a favorite toy and show it to your toddler. Tell her to close her eyes while you hide the toy somewhere in the room (in plain view). Have her open her eyes and look for the toy. Give her clues to help her find it if she needs assistance. Take turns hiding and looking for toys.
I hear something.
Have your toddler close her eyes. Then turn on a musical toy as you hide it under a pillow, blanket or some other object in the room. Have your toddler open her eyes and try to find the toy by searching for the sound.
Have your toddler close her eyes while you hide somewhere in the room. Then let her try to find you. Make some noises if she needs help. Expand the game to more rooms if she’s ready for that.
Hide four or five special toys or other items around the room. Tell your toddler what they are, give her a basket, and have her try to find them. Then let her hide some toys for you to find.