Wherever you are in the world, it can be a battle to think of things to do with your tots when the weather isn’t great. We’ve put together a list of 20 fun and easy activities to do when the rain, snow and/or wind keeps you indoors.
1. Bring the outdoors inside
A fun way to keep little ones occupied is to bring the toys you usually have in the garden inside. You (and the kids) will find different ways to use the same toys. For example, a paddle pool filled with beanbags or soft toys is different to a paddle pool of water. A skipping rope becomes a magic bridge or part of a fantasy game. Pool noodles can become race horses and outdoor chairs can be set up as a fun obstacle course.
2. Indoor construction site
Let your little ones to use pillows and blankets from around the house to build a den/fort. The different size and texture add a whole new dimension to construction and will keep them occupied for hours.
3. Make a head box
Find a large empty box. Cut the top and one side so that when you turn it upside down, it’s a box that your baby/toddler can lie under. Cover the inside of the box with black paper and hang (and stick) shiny objects onto the box. Think glow in the dark star stickers, glitter balls, shiny fish shapes – you choose. Your baby will be fascinated for ages looking at everything.
4. Make a sand-free sand box
Find an empty trough/tub big enough for your little one can sit in. Put dry pasta or rice at the bottom of it and add measuring cups, funnels, Tupperware containers, plastic cups and saucers, or anything your little ones can explore with their hands.
5. Shaving foam messy play
Shaving foam is great for tactile play and a quick and easy way to keep your little one occupied. Use a shaving foam that is fragrance free and suitable for sensitive skin. Spray some into your baby’s hands or put it on the tray of their high chair to explore with their fingers.
6. Pasta / corn flour messy play
Put some left over pasta on your little one’s high chair tray to play with or use some corn flour with a few drops of water to make a paste for them to explore. You can even add a few drops of food colour to the paste. Messy but great fun!
7. Toy Bath Time
Use the opportunity to ‘bath’ i.e. clean toys like dolls, dolls clothes, special teddies, Lego, tea sets – anything that could do with a bit of a scrub. Do it where it suits you, in the kitchen sink, in the bath or in a tub.
8. Puzzles, games and cards
Simple puzzles, board games or card games are fun to do if you have the time to play the whole game. Choose something age appropriate and let them win.
9. Have a movie day
Take the duvets and pillows off your beds to make a comfy spot on the lounge floor big enough for all of you. Make popcorn, have drinks handy and snuggle up under the covers to watch a fun and entertaining movie.
10. Sort the toys
Use indoor days to sort through your child’s toys. As you take games/toys out to be sorted your little one will rediscover old favourites and breathe new life into them. Get them to decide what they want to give away to charity or pass on to other family members.
11. Record sounds
Record everyday sounds around the house (dog barking, doorbell, washing machine) and have your little one guess what they are.
12. Junk modelling and box play
We all know that when our kids get new toys it is often the box they play with the most at first. There is nothing better than an empty box your child can sit in. There are no limits to what that box could be in your child’s imagination. Collect clean boxes you can give your children to build with. Boxes come in different shapes and sizes so they are great for construction, special awareness and exploration.
13. Play with string
Just as a box can be anything your child dreams up so can a piece of string.
14. Art and craft
Collect art and craft materials and keep them aside in a box for indoor play. Paints, pencils, different papers, bits for cutting and sticking, old greeting cards, shiny stickers or sequins and glue. Lovely creative fun.
Baking with your baby/toddler is a lesson in science and it involves all your senses. Plus, it provides opportunities to introduce different foods and ingredients. Try to cook savoury as well as sweet things and always allow a little extra to taste along the way.
Music, whale sounds, white noise or nature sounds will all grab your babies attention. Play music or sounds softly in the background and lie on the floor for a snuggle with your baby. Great bonding time.
17. Colour and movement
Remember the days of cocktail parties? Paper umbrellas in your drinks and tiny food on wooden sticks. Well, ditch the drinks and food and get yourself the little umbrellas and cocktail sticks with fun shiny bits on the end. They are sharp so make sure they are out of reach, but when your baby is calm and alert lie them on a blanket on the floor and hold the umbrella’s and cocktail sticks above their face to look at. Shake and twist them. Move them around for your baby to watch.
One of life’s most special moments is when you get to massage your baby. Doing it after bath time is great, but also try and put aside other times during the week to be able to massage your baby. The deep touch and quiet will keep your baby calm and contented.
19. Texture mat
If you are handy with a needle or know someone who is, make a texture mat for your baby to lie on. Get a large blanket and find different scraps of material with different textures. No need to buy anything especially, just whatever you can find, and sew patches of material onto the blanket. Anything from faux fur, velvet or old T-shirt material will do. Tummy time on this mat will be a great experience.
Give your baby plenty of opportunity to grasp at objects. Reaching out and grabbing builds the muscles in their hands and arms, plus the added elements of texture and shape make for exciting exploration and discovery. You can use anything (make sure it is safe though) from soft toys, empty shampoo bottles, large Duplo blocks. As your baby grows encourage them to reach for objects.
There you have it! 20 great ways to keep older babies and toddlers occupied. But what about my tiny baby?, you ask. Keep things simple and not too busy for babies under 6 months. Focus on one sense one at a time and keep the focus only for a short time – 10-20 minutes is enough. Sing little songs and nursery rhymes, play peek-a-boo, explore textures, enjoy tummy time together on the floor or do gentle exercises wearing your little one – there are some great mom and baby exercise classes online where you can wear your little one in a baby sling and exercise at the same time. Whatever you decide to do, enjoy your time indoors with your little ones!