Sometimes it seems toddlers are perpetual motion machines. Keeping up with them can really keep you on your toes. Children in the toddler stage develop at such an incredible pace and it can be tricky to keep them entertained, but honestly an entertained toddler is much less likely to be wreaking havoc. These seated activities can keep toddlers in highchairs interested and give you a bit of a break.
Not only are engaged toddlers more peaceful, they're also happiest while learning through play. Here are eight playful ideas for toddlers in high chairs, even if we know they won't be seated for long. This still may be just enough time for you to finish dinner or make that phone call.
Eight Highchair Activities for Keeping a Toddler Happy and Busy
These activities are great for when you need to keep your child seated for a short period of time. For instance if you need to make a phone call or help an older child with their math, a few minutes can be golden. Obviously some of these activities require supervision – you know what to do. This post contains affiliate links.
- Paint with water – no paint required, just a shallow dish of water and a paint brush (we like these chunky ones from Melissa and Doug). I usually do this with my 18 month old in a highchair and let them paint the tray, a dish towel, or other cloth. It also works great on the sidewalk or a fence. Find more easy toddler water play ideas here.
- Playing with a tape ball – cover a tennis ball or other similarly sized object with Masking Tape, sticky side out using short strips of tape, then let your child peel off strips to experiment with.
- Destruction play with a foam tray – Foam trays offer many interesting play ideas. Breaking them up is a favorite for toddlers. Give your toddler a clean foam tray to break into pieces, and perhaps a cup to stash the broken bits in. They may also enjoy using toddler utensils to poke the tray. The kids like the satisfying crack the foam trays make as they break up. (Of course be alert for toddlers who like to put the pieces in their mouth. Use your best judgement for this activity.)
- A rubber stamp with washable ink – Your toddler can use washable ink right on the highchair tray. This is messy but will definitely fascinate your toddler. I keep the ink pad aside and just ink up the stamp every few minutes. This is a high chair only activity in my house. I recommend keeping the high chair out of reach of walls unless you want wall art.
- A very small cup of salt and a spoon: Demonstrate building a small amount of salt onto a tray or plate. Toddlers enjoy the feeling of touching the salt, scooping with the spoon and spreading around their highchair tray.
- Shaving cream or whipped cream painting:
Squirt a pile of shaving cream into a pile on the tray and let your little one finger paint. For toddlers who put everything in their mouths, stick with the whipped cream – more ideas for edible sensory activities here.
- Lengths of ribbon or straws and a small basket or crate: The old berry crates are perfect for this, but they're becoming increasingly rare so any small crate or basket with holes will do. Simply demonstrate how the ribbons or straws fit into the holes. Then let your child poke and pull the ribbon through.
Favorite High Chair Toys
Here are a few of the most highly recommended toys for your baby or toddler's highchair tray:
- Grapple Suction High Chair Baby Toy Holder Leash – reduce the game of 52 toy pick up by attaching your toddler's favorite toy to their highchair using this suction cup leash.
- Suction Kupz – stick 'em, fill 'em, stack 'em. Fun set of cups to play with on any smooth surface, so these can easily be used on a highchair tray or as a bath toy (more of our favorite bath toys for toddlers here).
- Melissa & Doug Bead Maze – with suction cup feet. This bead maze can attach to a smooth highchair try using the suctions cups. The toy lets your baby move beads satisfyingly along the tracks.
- Sassy Wonder Wheel Activity Center – This is the most popular suction-to-a-highchair toy on Amazon with 4.5 stars and over 3,000 reviews. Conveniently it's inexpensive as well. While I have not had a toddler that had this toy, it seems many other little ones find it very entertaining!
Variety is the key to an entertained toddler.
Keeping a variety of these activities on hand will help you keep your growing toddler interested and engaged, just remember to switch things up and be ready to offer new opportunities as they master the activities you have. Find more ideas for toddlers on our toddler years bucket list.
Bounceback Parenting partner, Hands on as We Grow offers a week of fun toddler activities when you join her challenge here: