Here's how to spend quality time with your toddler!
My youngest child turned two the week of writing this! In celebration of her birthday, and because I really want to make the best of this time, I created this list of fun activities for 1, 2 and 3 year olds. Sometimes you know you want to spend quality time with your toddler, but don't really know how. Well, have no fear!
I present the Toddler Years Bucket List!
Having a toddler around is SO busy; I don't want to spend the toddler years in a blur and miss the best parts of this cute and funny stage – I need this list! Many of these ideas for toddler activities come from when I asked readers about favorite fun activities for 2 year olds this summer. They gave me so many wonderful things to do with toddlers. I had no idea how HAPPY reading the responses would make me!
Don’t let this list overwhelm you! Just use it to get get re-inspired when you’re feeling exhausted by things like night wakings of your 1 year old, potty training your 2 year old, or the constant mess your 3 year old leaves in her wake. The quality time ideas on the list are the some of the most fun activities to do with toddlers. Many are simple toddler activities you can do at home and you don’t have to do them all – though I think you’ll treasure any you do. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I may receive compensation for purchases made through them.
The Toddler Year Must Do List – 50+ great ideas for how to spend quality time with your toddler
“My daughter particularly likes it went I pretend her nose makes different noises like beeping etc. Its so bonding and so fun” ~Mel, mom to a 2 year old
- “I spy” in the car or at the park
- Building towers and knocking them down
- Rolling along toy cars
- Movement Games
- Very Beginner Board Games
- Dress up
- Peek-a-boo, patty cake, hide and seek!
“Hide & seek in the house (which is really silly because it's just basic hiding beside the bed post or behind the couch).” ~Katherine, mom to an 18 month old
- Pretend to be tigers and chase each other
- Pretend you can't find their hands when you're helping them get dressed
“Stomping in muddy puddles; making the most of the weather whatever it is!” ~ Lucy, mom to 3 year old
- Feeding the ducks, or chasing them…(no! don't chase the ducks!)
- Feed a baby goat
- Fly a kite
- Walking in the rain
- Puddle splashing! Get some galoshes so you can play in the rain!
- Play outside in fresh snow. With the right gear, snow play is a blast.
“The look on my little one's face every time he was in a toboggan was priceless!” ~Rhonda
- Hop over waves at the beach.
- Look for crabs in the rocks, starfish in the rock pools.
- Plant a spring flower to watch it grow.
- Pick fruit off of trees
- Watch a caterpillar become a butterfly
- Explore the forest, touching everything. (With obvious exceptions for oh, cactus or poison ivy naturally.)
- Play ‘look high/look low' and see what types of creatures or plants they see.
- Run in the fields.
- Toss leaves
- Collect rocks.
“A daily afternoon pram walk, so we can talk about the gardens we see, trees, the clouds, we count the buses. We just connect, get some fresh air and if I'm lucky they have a nap ;-)” ~Caroline, mom to toddler
- Petting zoos
- A botanical garden
- An open gym day where your child can free play in the foam pit, the trampolines and the mats.
- A Children's Museum
- Public library toddler reading time, or toddler activity hour
- Cousins, Grandparents, and Friends!
Sensory Play Activities
- Sand castles
- Playing with rice, beans or cornmeal
- Playing with those arts and crafts poms poms
- Anything messy.
- Mud pies, mud holes, mud body paint
- Give a hand or back massage with nice smelling lotion
- WATER! In the sink with containers, in the sprinkler, in a sand and water table.
- Pour and measure – add a drop of food color for fun.
- Squeeze wet sponges.
- Walk the neighborhood with a watering can and water the flowers you see.
- Long baths with their favorite bath toys, and not just for getting clean – enjoy creative bathtime play too.
- Simply getting outside to play
Find more of our favorite sensory activities for toddlers here.
Songs, Rhymes and Stories
- Read books together
- Explore Touch and feel board books
- Sing and dance
- Sing Songs with lots of movement, like “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider”, “The Wheels on the Bus”, and “Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes.
- Have spur of the moment dance parties
“My kiddo and her young friends (18 months and 2 year olds) like to wiggle to music while wearing tutu's.” ~Katherine
- Pretend cooking in a play kitchen
- Real cooking
- Make goop, gak or slime
- Baking cookies or mixing pancakes together
- Bake banana muffins
- Have a Tea Party
- Decorating cookies with lots of sprinkles that go everywhere!
When my daughter was a 3 year old she had 2 of her friends over and we made Valentine's cookies–the floor was solid pink with sugar and sprinkles afterward! ~The Twisting Kaleidoscope
Arts and Crafts
- Finger painting
- Pudding Paint!
- Painting with brush – these natural paints even smell like fruits for a really fun sensory experience!
- Do A Dot Art Markers
- Sidewalk chalk scribbles
- Stamping – we've enjoyed the stamping washable markers from Crayola since they can be used to stamp or draw, and these big letter stamps look neat for beginning letter recognition while enjoying art.
- Make handprint art – tracing, impressions in salt dough and paint handprints
- Blowing and catching bubbles
- Balloons and balls -Balloon baseball!
- Bikes, Trikes and Ride-on toys
- Knobbed Puzzles
- Do “chores” with Mama and Papa
- Push baby strollers, shopping carts or push toys
- Rough and tumble play
- Build “forts” out of boxes or couch cushions!
- Make blanket tents and tunnels
And of course: Hugs, snuggles, kisses, and have lots of playful physical interaction. So many of the most important things to do with toddlers are simple activities that take place in the home as part of day to day life.
“I adopted my boys as 21 and 23 month old boys… they are now 5.5 I would say ANY of the suggestions here, because kids just LOVE to play and experiment, but more important was the fact that I was down on the floor with them, making eye contact, laughing, sharing, and connecting with them.” ~Margaret
This is YOUR list. Thank You. Thank you for all of your beautiful ideas for how to spend quality time with your little one as well as your adorable examples. And thank you for inspiring me and so many other parents to enjoy activities, love and snuggles with our toddlers!