How to keep a toddler or infant amused when it's too cold?
February 11, 2010 8:32 PM   Subscribe

What are some fun (inside) games to play with a toddler? I love my 13 monther dearly but the recent snow and cold weather in the Northeast has forced us to stay inside where it's tougher to keep her entertained.

We do the reading thing (a question I asked for which askme was awesome) but how many of her favorite books can we keep going over? We do the peekabo, building blocks, etc. We've even reneged and let some Barney into her view. Any fun games or activities for the pre-verbal toddler that have proven winners for Mefites?! We're trying to keep her to the toys she actually does have before buying others, but perhaps some true hit toys that people find educational and fun for this set? When it was nicer out, we'd go to the playground or long walks that were good for both of us! She sleeps only for 40-minutes and gets up around 7AM, sleeps around 8-9 so it's a lot of space to fill. Thanks!
posted by skepticallypleased to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Fill up a dish pan with water and let her splash, dump, and play.
posted by Abbril at 8:36 PM on February 11, 2010

tug of war with a towel.
sitting under a blanket and making noises until she pulls it off you
we have a soft round cat bed that our baby loves getting into and then we play "ufo" and carry/fly her around making vroom noises. i do this until i can't anymore
maganadoodle is a hit
we have a rubber ball (like 60% basketball sized) which is fun to roll and throw / crawl / walk after
silk scarf is fun, let it billow down onto her / you , can turn into tug of war or peekabo
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:40 PM on February 11, 2010

Do you have a big cardboard box handy? Cut a few flaps in it, give box to child. I kept my son entertained with the same box for like 5 years :D

Water stuff is fun, too: pull out the tupperware and plastic cups, dress child in swimsuit, turn up the heat and let her go to town on the kitchen floor with a pan of water (bonus: afterwards you're halfway to mopping the floor).
posted by jamaro at 8:41 PM on February 11, 2010

I too have a 13month old and have been snowbound for the last week. A few months ago we bought a SPEJA from IKEA. Best $20 ever spent. It is a 6 foot long tunnel, about 2 feet in diameter. I can chase my kid/be chased by my kid in it for hours a day. Maybe not super educational, but omg fun!
posted by ish__ at 8:44 PM on February 11, 2010

Put her in the bath tub with a set of plastic cups and bowls. Let the faucet run at a dribble of warm water and she should be able to entertain yourslef (although you will have to keep a close eye on her.)
posted by metahawk at 8:48 PM on February 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

Variation on water play: Fill a tub (the bigger the better, but at least dishpan size) with cheap elbow noodles. Provide implements for digging, pouring, etc. Noodles are less prone to straying all over the house than rice, cornmeal, or other things we tried.

At that age my kids loved it if I would gather up all the various little balls we had in the house, set the kid on the couch, sit on the floor, and try to throw all the balls onto the couch, while the kid tried to toss them back as fast as I could toss them up there. Actually, come to think of it, they were probably older than 13 mos when we did this. But try it anyway.

I think they like to open cabinet doors at that age. You could clear out the bottom cabinets of the kitchen or bathroom and do a little peek-a-boo type thing - put a stuffed animal in one while the little one can't see you and let him/her open doors until s/he finds it.
posted by lakeroon at 9:04 PM on February 11, 2010

Homemade play-dough (no biggie if some ends up ingested).

Turn on the radio and dance.

Put things on your head. This is apparently a fucking laugh riot when you're 1.

Learn some finger rhymes and bouncing rhymes and do them with her. (This is the way the farmers ride; 5 little ducks went out one day; etc. - there are millions of these, and they're also great for waiting at the doctor's office or DMV, so well worth learning.)

Any other kids around -- even bigger ones? You could offer to have a neighborhood 3-year-old over for an hour or two; the mother would bless you, and your child would be diverted by the company.

If your child isn't sick, go outside! I took my 3-year-old and 18-month-old out today for about an hour, in 20-degree weather, to play in our 3 feet of snow. I thought it had been at most 30 minutes, it was so much fun! You can drag her around in a sled; the neighbors will be out shoveling and come to say hi. She may even nap more than 40 minutes. ;)

Do your chores and cart her along in a baby carrier. Makes it good exercise for you, too.
posted by palliser at 9:15 PM on February 11, 2010

Pot and wooden spoon.

Advanced peekaboo: I used to play hide and seek with my barely walking toddler, I'd sneak into a room - he'd follow and I'd jump out and yell "Boo!" He'd squeal and laugh.

This little piggy - except I'd make up different stories about the piggies (who ever goes to market nowadays, this little piggy went to the train station, this little piggy went to school, this little piggy rode the garbage truck and so on).

Practice naming body parts. Even if your child doesn't speak, they can point to body parts, so you can do a biology lesson. This is your knee, and this is your toe. Touch your head.

Singing "insy winsy spider went up the water spout" run your fingers up her arm, "down came the rain" spirit fingers "and washed poor insy out, out came the sun, and dried up all the rain, and insy winsy spider went up the drain again."

Maybe get a dog?
posted by b33j at 9:18 PM on February 11, 2010

Response by poster: Great answers here so far! -- Thanks. I'll keep it going though since it's good for listing. I'll add a link that did help -- Slate's best iphone apps for kids and the site that inspired it bestkidsapps.
posted by skepticallypleased at 9:41 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Our 15-month-old boys love anything that isn't a toy. Plastic cups. Empty Sprite bottles. Those syringes that come with Baby Motrin. Cell phones (take out the battery first). Remote controls. Basically, they love trash.
posted by puritycontrol at 10:13 PM on February 11, 2010

Apparently when I was that small my favorite game involved our (inherited) eames rocking chair. When it was turned over and rested on its arms, it turned into an igloo or a house for me to hide in! I'd bring special things there to hide them and play inside-outside games. A scarf over the opening was the door, and useful for all sorts of other things. I also loved sitting in an upturned golf umbrella, according to mom, later when I started talking I told everyone that it was obviously a boat. So, see if there are objects that can be turned over or put on a side and they can turn into brand new playthings in an instant.
posted by Mizu at 11:49 PM on February 11, 2010

Find all the cushions and pillows in the house and make the BEST FORT EVER.
posted by teraspawn at 12:06 AM on February 12, 2010

Even though it's snowy - I recommend that you take her outside! Let her see the awesomeness of a snowstorm. If she's bundled up, and it's above zero, go take a tiny tromp around and let her see the drifts. Then, when you get back in, recreate it in blankets. When I was tiny, I loved the snow. Kids love to be tripped out.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 12:08 AM on February 12, 2010

Elefun is an elephant that ejects butterflies from her trunk, straight into the air, which you and your toddler catch with a net-- really fun, amazon has it for twenty bucks.
posted by jenkinsEar at 4:11 AM on February 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Pots and pans and tupperware as said above. I have a similarly housebound 17 month old and she can play with those for ages. Especially little containers that she can remove the lids from and try and replace them. Also, crayons and paper.
posted by gaspode at 6:15 AM on February 12, 2010

Get your shovel out and dig a path to the neighbors that have a similarly aged child. Nothing like a bit of play time together to tire the little devils out. That and there will be different toys at the other house.

Step2 sells a terrific sports activity slide. It's small enough to be used indoors during the winter months, and eventually out in the yard.

Target has a great little bucket-like sled. I take him 'out for a drag' around the neighborhood and he loves it. It's got a little seat belt to keep them secure. It tracks VERY well down hills and drags slowly enough to keep it from going too fast. He loves being set loose (by himself) down the local hill.

He also loves musical instruments. If they're electronic check them ahead of time to make sure the noise won't drive you batty. He loves his guitar and harmonica (geeee-TAR and 'MON-ica). I try to hide the drum but he keeps finding it...

Don't let the age guidlines on toys prevent you from considering things. You want to make sure the toys don't have easily separable parts that can be swallowed. Sure, making 'full use' of a toy (like a harmonica, listed ages 7+) isn't going to happen. But they can have a lot of fun with it even without 'getting it right'.

Don't get your kid started on fiddling with electronic gadgets. Unless you're prepared to have an extra one you'll NEVER be able to pick it up again without them demanding time with it. You'll want to have a spare remote and old cell phone handy for this sort of thing.

Meanwhile spare you kid the overdose of staring at a computer or TV screen. There will be plenty of time to waste on that later in life. Really, when a toy only does a little bit their imagination does the rest.

You may want to start eliminating the morning nap in favor of a longer one in the afternoon. That's how most daycare facilities handle it. Rev the kids up all morning, feed them lunch and have them crash for a 3 hour afternoon nap. Then get 'em outside for a bit of play while they're still daylight. Story and play time before dinner and then off to bed. Works great for our 19mo boy.
posted by wkearney99 at 7:48 AM on February 12, 2010

Putting things inside of other things: BEST GAME EVAR

Taking things out of other things: EVEN MOAR FUN

Seriously, my toddler can entertain himself for an improbably long time if you just give him a bucket, box, or drawer and a handful of smaller objects; he'll just happily sit there filling the box and then emptying it and then filling it and then emptying it.

Variations include "opening and closing things," and "bashing things against one another."
posted by ook at 8:17 AM on February 12, 2010 [2 favorites]

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