23 Ways to Keep Kids Busy
Toss a bunch of small objects (that aren’t choking hazards) into a box for the baby to examine, dump, and gather up again. Two ways to prolong the activity:
Pick novel objects (measuring spoons, shiny bangles, balls, and rattles—random is good), and use a box with a lid. Even better, use an empty diaper-wipes case with a rubber (that is, gentle) hand-trapping opening.
Give your child a fresh box of little (dentist-size) paper cups and let her stack and crash to her heart’s content.
Put him in his high chair and spread shaving cream on the tray. Let him “paint.” If he’s too young to know that shaving cream isn’t food, use vanilla pudding. (This is a clothes-free activity.)
Set up a dreamy winter landscape that she can touch and transform: Mash white Play-Doh into a small cookie sheet or pie tin. If you’re brave, mix in silver glitter. Add toy animals.
Grab two mixing bowls and a bag of large (and blissfully quiet) pom-poms. Let your child scoop them from one bowl to the other using a spoon, a soup ladle, or a measuring cup. You can also bury “treasures,” like blocks or small toys, for her to discover while digging.
All she wants to do is eat the pom-poms? Then feed her! Create a kid-friendly tapas bar with small snacks—raisins, edamame, Cheerios, apple chunks, cheese cubes, bits of ham—in the compartments of a clean ice-cube tray.
Fill a baking pan with a bit of water and a squirt of dish soap and set down a few Matchbox cars or mini trucks. Have your child clean them with a toothbrush. (Less detail-oriented toddlers can just sail boats through the sudsy flood.)
Offer a stack of colorful Post-it notes and ask for an art installation on the nearest wall.