Monday, September 16, 2013

Keeping a Toddler Busy

It's true. My baby isn't a  baby anymore. He's a toddler. A running-through-the-house, louder-than-ever, demanding-my-attention, adorable-yet-sometimes-infuriating, miniature person.

With this wonderful shift to toddlerhood comes a variety of things. For Brayden, one of these changes is his preference of activities. He still plays quietly with his toys by himself sometimes (or preferably with me sitting right next to him). But more often than not, he wants to be doing stuff. Cool stuff. Different stuff. Fun stuff. (Come on mom, what the heck are you here for if not to constantly amuse and amaze me???) My little guy still has NO interest in television (which I love!) so these days, he really seems to be demanding that constant attention.

You're not paying attention to me? No problem.
I'll busy myself by emptying out this cabinet of dog stuff
and trying to stack it all on top of each other.
Sometimes it's easy. He brings me books to read him, asks for his bubbles, or gives me his shoes as a not-so-subtle hint that he wants to play outside. We also do the normal kid stuff - coloring, finger-painting, occasional use of markers (but really, with a 15 month old, that's just asking for something irreplaceable to have lines of red and blue drawn on it during the 10 seconds I turn my head). Brayden really enjoys artistic endeavors. But sometimes, I have to be more creative. Over the last few weeks, I've tried a variety of things:

Pasta Box
By far, Brayden's favorite "toy" that I made him. When the box is on a shelf, will stand by it and reach his arms up asking for it. He simply adores it. All I did was put a few boxes of different shaped pasta in a tupperware container (including all those half-used boxes in my kitchen), threw in some containers for him to fill, and added a set of miniature animals I bought at Michaels.

Brayden plays with this everyday and doesn't seem to get tired of it. He fills the cups, pours them out, uses shovels (and other toys) to move the pasta around. He especially loves the animals hidden in there. I used them as a way of teaching him different words. I started showing him an animal, saying its name, then putting it in the box and asking him to fetch it. After asking "Where's the giraffe?" so many times, he caught on. He now knows all the animal names and can get each one if I ask for it (wondering if I can turn this into some kind of party trick...). He also enjoys the game where I line all the animals up and ask him to give me a specific one. (Once he figures out the animal I want, he usually makes the animal noise as he grabs it)

Button Jar
Brayden was really interested in this at first. For the first few days, he loved playing with the buttons. Take one out. Put it back in. Hold the jar over head and pour everything out. Repeat. He goes through spurts with it now, but is still generally amused by it. I try to fit those teachable moments in here as well, since all the buttons I got are different colors and shapes.

Random Assortments
For those times when I need to make dinner and don't feel like doing it one-handed (or with a child attached to my legs), I try to give Brayden a collection of totally random things to play with. Things that could go together (in the mind of a 15-month-old). One of the most successful ones was empty toilet paper rolls (cut in half), pom-poms, bowls, and a muffin tin. Kept him busy for a while. I should really pull that stuff out again...

More Random Put-Togethers
Brayden has exhausted his interest in pots-and-pans, so I have to try to spice them up a bit. Most recently, I did this by putting pipe cleaners into a colander. I think he thought it was some kind of Rubix-Cube puzzle, because for the first few minutes, he just sat there staring at it with the quizzical eyebrows he gets. Then he started moving pieces around, taking some pipe cleaners out and putting other ones back in. Probably great for motor skills, but this kid already manages to open child-proof vitamin bottles (what a sham those things are!) so I'm not too concerned about that area of development.

Coloring Box
I've been terribly sick this week and needed something that would keep Brayden busy and allow me to only half-pay attention to him while I tried not to die. Answer = put toddler in an empty box (I buy a lot of crap from Amazon). Add crayons. Boom. It's like writing on the walls for him.

Not all of my endeavors have been successful. I tried making him a sensory bottle with pebbles and water. I thought it was pretty cool, but he played with it for a total of about 8 seconds before tossing it aside. He went back to it the next day, hoping it would be cooler. But it wasn't.

I also tried putting tempura paint in a zip-lock bag so he could "color" with his fingertips in a mess-free way. Unfortunately, he watched me put it together and was way more interested in the bright green tape I used to hold the bag down than in the paint itself.

I'm running out of new-and-exciting things for my little guy so I anticipate him getting antsy for new challenges any day now. Not sure what next week will bring, but with a little MacGyver-ing, I'm sure I'll think of something. (In the meantime, any other recommendations are welcome!)


  1. You may have just saved my sanity today. Pasta is going in a box in ten seconds. Hoping this keeps my grumpy child occupied for enough time for me to go to the bathroom! ;)

  2. Love these ideas. Will share on my Facebook page,

    Vida Marie