Soooo Boooored....
April 22, 2014 1:07 PM   Subscribe

Give me some fun ideas to do with my not yet walking, grass hating, only has interest in climbing stairs 15 month old. I'm getting rather bored with him during the day and I don't know what to do with him.

I can only carry him around the house naming things so many times. He doesn't care for any of his toys. Bought some crayons, but those are just too tasty to scribble with. He has kitchen cabinets full of tupperware to make a mess of. I feel like I'm not doing enough to stimulate his brain. I have tried to lead him by the hand and 'walk' in the yard looking at flowers, but he doesn't want to walk. He hates the grass, so he cries when I give up 'walking' him and just try to coax him to crawl in the grass. There is also a baby pool on the deck for fun, but he doesn't seem too interested. We go to the store and get out of the house, so this pertains to being at home.
posted by MayNicholas to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (28 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
When my second one was a similar age, I set up a small homemade sandbox on the back porch of our small apartment. I put sand in a Tupperware storage box and bought some super cheap things like children's buckets and shovels and other things you might take to the beach. I sometimes would add water. When not in use, I covered it with a Tupperware lid.
posted by Michele in California at 1:14 PM on April 22, 2014 [7 favorites]

Dancing to music? Simple rhythms, bouncing up and down in time?
posted by Leon at 1:17 PM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

I used to worry about stimulating my kid. The only thing that worked, though, was not getting in her way while she pursued her own ideas of stimulation. So, I dunno, let him climb stairs? Climb other stuff, maybe?
The problem of course is that you have to stand next to him while he does it.

Do you have playgrounds nearby?
posted by Omnomnom at 1:19 PM on April 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: At that age, statstoddler really enjoyed the "sensory" things that they would do at daycare. These things might be too messy for at home but they played with yogurt, shaving cream, ice, and jello.

Music was also a big hit. He would bang on a drum (as well as his musical table) like Animal, and we'd play with the egg shakers.

Oh, and bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles.
posted by statsgirl at 1:20 PM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sorry, just saw you want inside suggestions only.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:20 PM on April 22, 2014

posted by the young rope-rider at 1:23 PM on April 22, 2014

This is why people join Mommy and Me classes and schedule playdates with parents of similar aged children. It's to relieve the boredom of the stay-at-home parents, not the kids!
posted by Jacqueline at 1:24 PM on April 22, 2014 [21 favorites]

Kids that age also like pouring things so those same sandbox toys might be entertaining in the splash pool. My boy started being interested in cars/things with wheels at that age and would push them for (toddler)hours. Fingerpaints are fun- use paper plates as a canvas. Bowling games using empty cereal boxes and a tennis ball. Bath-time can be fun too- no cleaning, just playing. He's almost big enough for blocks, yes? Bubbles... Gymboree has the best bubbles.

That stage was hard for me because I wanted them to DO STUFF and they just weren't quite there yet. I still had to DO the STUFF to entertain them.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 1:25 PM on April 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Nobody ever warns you that toddlers are tedious, especially at that age. You are in no way failing by being bored. PorcineWithMe has it exactly right.

My go to activity is floating boats in the kitchen sink. By boats I mean anything that floats -- plastic cups, spoons, plates, tupperware, etc. When boredom sets in, add soap for suds. When boredom sets in, add food coloring.

You can also play music and bang the Tupperware with spoons or hands. You can also blow bubbles for him indoors. He might also enjoy chasing balloons. You can put magnetic letters on a cookie tray and he might enjoy sliding them around. You can also spray shaving foam, or jello or jam or icecubes on the cookie tray on top of a drop cloth and let him go to town. Library? Picture books about kitties or trucks or animals or story hour or... ?

It is entirely possible, however, that all he wants to do is climb stairs right now, in which case it is just going to suck for awhile.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:54 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lay out a towel on the kitchen floor and pull out a bunch of pots and pans and containers and some wooden spoons then give him a bunch of ice to play with. He'll love it!
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:00 PM on April 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yep, we went through the climbing stairs phase. It was while we were on a cruise. I spent a week climbing stairs up and down the Pacific Coast.

The hardest thing about new walkers is the "no, no, no" as they try out their new ability to explore their world. Try to make at least one room in the house a "yes" room.

At our house, rather than baby-gate our toddler in, we baby-gated around the electronics area to keep the baby out, and otherwise let him have free rein of the living room (it helps that we also don't have a lot of breakable tchotchkes in that room). That way, I could sit down on the couch and just watch him, without having to be right there saying "don't pull up on the tv stand" etc etc.

I also only locked a few of the cabinets in the kitchen. I let him have the run of the tupperware cabinets, so he was happy entertaining himself on the floor while I did whatever else needed to be done in that room.

Again, having things to say "yes" to really cuts down on tantrums because you are not saying "no" all the time. When there are "yes" things around, you won't be the one who has to work so hard to entertain.

And when all else fails, but him in water.
posted by vignettist at 2:14 PM on April 22, 2014 [12 favorites]

I think that a lot of kids get over the hating the grass thing pretty quickly. You could try laying a blanket out on the grass and put some toys around. Then he'd have the freedom to tentatively try out the grass if he felt like it. Hopefully his curiosity will get him to try it a few times and learn that it's okay.

If not, layout a bunch of blankets/towels and make a trail he can roam. You could space them out a bit to see if that encourages him to cross a short space of grass (if that doesn't frustrate him too much).
posted by agog at 2:35 PM on April 22, 2014 [5 favorites]

Other free activities:
* Walks with the stroller. Stop a lot to look at squirrels, etc.
* This sounds weird, but try asking him to do things and see how complicated the directions can get. "Can you get the ball? Now can you get the ball from the couch and put it by the door? Now can you kick the red ball onto the rug and then put it back on the couch?"
* See if you can get him to repeat the alphabet one letter at a time (but some kids aren't ready for this at 15 months)
* Teach him funny faces. "Show me your surprised face!"
* Nthing baths.
* Set a big box on its side so that he can crawl inside (or make a blanket fort). Add toys. Play peek-a-boo.
* Puppets, maybe, but he may just want to grab them for a taste test.
* Find something that routinely makes him laugh really hard, like pretending to lose your grip on something, bumbling it about, and dropping while making loud dramatic "Whoah! Uh oh!" noises. Although maybe this is exactly the kind of thing you're hoping to escape.

And if you want to throw money at the problem:
* Our daughter loved Music Together classes; our sons not as much, but maybe yours would
* Swimming lessons
* We generally avoided TV until our kids were older, but a Baby Einstein DVDs can feel like a life saver if you're at wit's end.
* Baby sitter. Maybe there's a kid in your neighborhood who's too young but almost old enough. See if s/he wants to practice for 30 minute stints while you hide in another room. (I'd talk to the other kid's parents about paying first.)
posted by agog at 2:43 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

When my boy (just turned 16 months and started walking) didn't want to hold hands to walk we bought a little push cart with chomping alligators. We got a Melissa and Doug brand cart. We basically just took that around to different areas of the house and outside. We had to help him a lot at first since he couldn't turn it on his own.

The other thing we noticed was he is done playing with "baby" toys and fully into vrooming cars and trucks all over. Dump trucks and garbage trucks especially, probably because of the moving parts.

We also have switched it up location wise for toys. The kitchen stuff (Tupperware, wooden spoons) seems kind of new and fun when it's in the living room.
posted by Swisstine at 2:47 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My boy is a similar age/stage (13months, not yet walking, climber), and I'm not very good at coming up with ideas but his two day a week nanny is (she's worked at a preschool) so here's some things she does with him (I'm scrolling through the pictures she sends for ideas), or that he likes (that she probably taught him b/c I know he didn't get making car noises from me!):
  • Playing with cars, vroom, this is new and so cute
  • Finger paint, she puts (tapes?) down two plastic placemats, on the table in front of his high chair and a glob of paint and he smears it around and gets SOOOO messy (judging by the fact that he isn't blue when we come home on these days, I'm assuming a bath is the next activity)
  • Playdough with a similar set up. I think the first couple of times she put the playdough in a sandwich bag.
  • Drawing with a similar set up (I think she tapes down the paper). I think all of these involve lots of repetition of "don't put that in your mouth" with limited, but increasing success.
  • A sensory table my husband built on her suggestion, it's a super simple wood frame about a foot off the ground which a flat sweater/underbed storage rubbermaid thing fits into, we've got two rotating right now, one for sand, one for water/rice/oats/flour/whatever. You don't have to fill it up, just a contained space to push it around and touch and scoop. He dumps a lot of this out, so be warned if you do it inside. And basic kitchen things can be good in any of these, funnels, spoons, little colanders, etc. in addition to traditional sandbox toys. The table isn't even necessary, the containers could go on top of a box or sit on the floor, but I would say get the ones with the latching lids so you can close them up.
  • Playgrounds of course, but more particularly, one of our (outdoor) malls has an awesome little kid playground where the ground is molded composite rubber. Wonderful for crawlers or kids learning to walk. You might want to see if any of your local malls have kid activities.
  • Stickers
  • Chopsticks - for some reason he loves chopsticks
  • Wooden clothes pins - he's been loving these too
  • Hair brushing - despite the fact that he's virtually bald still
  • This might be more him, but he LOVES trying to put things together, straws into cups (as well as just straws), lids on cups, caps on baby food containers, etc. plus putting things into other things - empty Kleenex boxes are good.
  • Looking out the window at passing people, trucks, etc. He stands on an ottoman next to the window so he can really see.
  • Sensory bottles - old water bottles (or milk storage bottles) with different things inside, something that makes a rattling noise, water with some brightly colored objects, etc. You can glue on the lids for mess/safety.
  • We used these command strips to hang some picture frames at his level in his room. They are essentially plastic velcro. We tried them because they seemed safe, but he seems to enjoy going around his room and pulling down all the pictures. And it takes just a minute to put them all back up. Ikea has some cheap bright frames that have plastic instead of glass which are kind of perfect for what we're using them for.
  • He's starting to look at books more on his own, so making sure they are easily accessible
Plus lots of good suggestions above (bubbles, puppets, boxes, lots of safe to explore places). Problem is most things seem to be fascinating but only for a little while, or occassionally.

Oh, and my little guy is okay with grass, but we have rather rough patio (made of decomposed granite, so very hard and pokey) so we got a cheap outdoor rug from costco and laid it out, this might be an option to put down on the grass if you want a bigger outdoor space to play in sometimes. This is generally where his sensory table lives too.
posted by pennypiper at 3:39 PM on April 22, 2014 [7 favorites]

My mom used to open up the dishwasher door and let us sit on the floor and play there. You could put water in it, or make a mess with jello, whipped cream, etc and then just close the door and run the dishwasher to clean up the mess. While I don't have kids myself, it seems like a pretty good idea.
posted by JannaK at 4:38 PM on April 22, 2014

Best answer: Oh, but if you do the dishwasher thing, don't let him climb up on it...he can break the door or it can tip over. Being a parent means being mildly paranoid at all times.

I wonder if you could set up a climbing space for him? Like low things surrounded by pillows. Ottomans, storage trunks. Clearly that's what he's into right now. Interspersed with things to climb into like boxes.

My kid bored me stupid at that age. Not his fault, I just didn't enjoy the types of play he was into after a few minutes, and he wanted me to play along; I couldn't just sit next to him. It was hard! But it got easier. But don't feel bad if you need to take him to someplace with a bounce house or toddler playground to keep yourself from going crazy.

(and now he's 8 and we have amazing discussions and he cracks me up constantly. You'll get there.)
posted by emjaybee at 5:09 PM on April 22, 2014

Get yourself to Pinterest! There are a zillion mom blogs with ideas for toddler play on there. One I like is called Fun at Home With Kids. Her son is about the same age as yours. My baby is 11 months and some of her ideas are a little old for him, so they would probably be great for you.
posted by apricot at 5:50 PM on April 22, 2014

Response by poster: Thank you for all the helpful suggestions!
We already do Music Together classes.
We have a back deck that is just calling for jello, whip cream, and sand!
He also refuses to stand without help even though I know he can. I am glad to hear from other caregivers that this boredom is common.
posted by MayNicholas at 5:56 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Does your local public library have toddler story time? Check it out! And check out a bunch of books to read to him. Walks around the neighborhood are also entertaining.
posted by mareli at 6:51 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pinterest for sensory tables or trays. Basically you get lots of cool ways to put things into rice, jello or dried leaves or whatever, and theme them up. Your kid won't care so much that you lovingly assembled little plastic fish among green tissue paper fronds with blue-dyed rice but it is weirdly fun to put together. They will play with it for anywhere from 10-30 minutes, but you can reuse them repeatedly.

The clingy phase is really boring. If you can put him in a sling on your back, you can do more stuff while chatting to him.

Also it's good to put him in a fairly rich sensory environment and leave him alone while you are nearby. You can do this in a child-safe corner, with blocks and a few interesting toys, or in the garden on a big blanket. He may cry briefly and ask for attention but this is a good age to have him learn that Mummy is nearby but not instantly responding to the attention cry, only the "I'm hurt" crying. Brain-wise, the damaging thing is being in a sensory-poor environment with no interaction. In a diverse environment, it's good for him to be frustrated and bored at times, because they then have to figure out how to interact and explore and play by himself.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:18 PM on April 22, 2014

Tie some string or yarn between two sturdy chairs or railings, and put clothes hangers on it. This was highly entertaining for my little guy a few months ago. Might even be incentive to stand up on his own?
posted by daisystomper at 8:00 PM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

My 15-month-old loves looking through board books on his own (when he gets to the end, he flips it upside down and reads it backwards - double the mileage!), methodically destroying anything made out of Duplos, crunching leaves, bath time with toys, digging in sand at the park and dumping the bucket out, watching the older kids at the playground and occasionally yelling a them, and chattering to himself in an old magnetic school locker mirror stuck to the side of the fridge. Books are his most intense [stationary] passion, but he definitely has some he loves and others that he could care less about.
posted by Maarika at 9:07 PM on April 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Does he like the scarves from the Music Together dance party time? If so, you can buy some from Dharma Trading Post (in any of a zillion different shapes and sizes) and dye them with unsweetened Kool-Aid. My 13-month-old is obsessed with them.

This is also the perfect age for fill-and-dump. Our biggest hit: wooden blocks and Trader Joe's coffee cans.

Dirt. Sticks. Things that make noise when he bangs them. Things with wheels. Pouring water. Board books with pictures of other babies. A big cardboard box with a door cut in it. A plastic tub with ice cubes and measuring cups.

Ideas from Pinterest can be great, but please don't let them make you feel inadequate because your baby doesn't have, like, a daily routine of pre-literacy activities and design-blog-worthy sensory bins. Thar be madness.

Truly, it would be wonderful just to plop him on the floor and go about your day! Everything stimulates his brain, including boredom, and it's good for him to explore on his own. My aforesaid 13-month-old may actually be the clingiest baby in the world, and even she enjoys and benefits from wandering around the house by herself.

Do you have hobbies? Do them! Do you want hobbies? Pick them up! Are there places you want to go? Go there! He will learn tons just by tagging along in a stroller or carrier, and you will be much less bored.
posted by a fair but frozen maid at 9:25 PM on April 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fifteen months was totally the hardest time so far in my parenting experience, so I feel your pain. They're highly mobile, but they have absolutely no ability to control themselves and no sense of peril yet and they won't play alone for much time at all. It's exhausting. Mine is nearly 3 now, and though we are having a particularly hellish week, he's usually a lot of fun these days (being able to play with Legos? YAY).

One thing our kid loved to do at that age was knock things over. We could entertain him for a while by building towers of blocks and then letting him knock them down. He also loved pulling out all of the DVD cases from under the television, and couldn't open the cases yet, so that worked well. Basically, destruction was the thing.

We also did a lot of walking around with him in a stroller at that time, and we were lucky enough to have a playground a couple of blocks away with a good toddler area. A playground with a bouncy surface and a fence would have been amazing. As it was, he was walking by 15 months, so we'd basically just put him down, and he'd take off, and we'd watch him go until we realized that he really did not care if we were following, then we'd go get him and reset the whole thing. He was still slow enough that we could basically just let him roam. This would require your kid to get over the grass thing, though. Er, but the point is that if I had a 15 month old at this point, I'd probably drive to any playground that was sufficiently contained with soft surfaces and just let him go.

If you are not already reading mommy blogs and so forth in your area, they might be worth a look. I am constantly surprised at all of the things out there for SAHMs and their tiny kids.
posted by hought20 at 5:38 AM on April 23, 2014

Best answer: Oh, also! By the time mine was 17 months, he was playing with a train table. He loved it so much that we bought one for him that Christmas. It was AMAZING, because he suddenly played alone! For, like, half an hour at a time!

Barnes & Noble often has a train table in the kid's section, so you might want to go see if your kid is interested.
posted by hought20 at 5:40 AM on April 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

What I did with my highly clingy not quite toddlers was to wear them on my back (in an Ergo) whatever it was *I* wanted to do, just with them attached. Long walks! Grocery shopping! Library! Picking up the house! Not too dangerous cooking! That way, not quite toddler gets what they want (constant contact and conversation with mom), and I wasn't bored silly. Win win, if your back can take it.
posted by Wavelet at 7:52 AM on April 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

And I am one of those "bad" mommies who turned on the tv for kiddos while I read....yes, I did many of the other things....but sheesh that child has to emancipate at some point. All 4 of them are fine...and one loved when I read so she could learn to read as well....and she did.
posted by OhSusannah at 7:41 PM on April 24, 2014

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