Toddlers are known for being rambunctious balls of energy with speedy little legs and often-bruised foreheads. They’re curious explorers
and daredevil risk-takers, with too many things to see and do in a 24-hour
period. (That’s why, naps? Noooo.)
Yet that insatiable curiosity can be satisfied in ways that
don’t involve outside voices and bloody lips. If you’re lucky, your little
busy-body can channel that energy into something…quiet.
For those days where you need them to just SIT STILL PLEASE
SHHH, try stocking up on some of these quiet-time toddler activities. You can
never be sure what your child will be interested in (that day, that minute),
but these are some safe bets:
1.Puzzles and Activities
From about 18 months on up, I
always had a few puzzles out in his play area or in the living room, only
because it was such a sure-fire way to get him to settle down and quietly play.
I added more quiet-time activities as the months went on—like these Kid O
magnetic letters and counting/tracing activity books.
2. Painting /Coloring
Noah got an easel for his second birthday and it was
one of his all-time greatest presents. Not only is it how we discovered that
painting is his thang, but OH the countless hours he’s stood
still, silently painting. Now if your younger toddler would most likely go on a
painting binge the minute your back turns, then the scrubbing and
reupholstering might not be worth the few quiet minutes. Your call.
Picture books, picture books, picture books. Just have
stacks of them lying around—one is sure to catch his eye. And there’s nothing
I like more than to cuddle up with a toddler on my lap and read stories.
4. Interactive Book
If your older toddler is having trouble sitting still for
books, try an interactive book like “Press Here”
by Herve Tullet. It has no electronics whatsoever—just old-fashioned
interactive directions, which has kids twisting, turning, and shaking the book.
I read this to Noah in Barnes & Noble, and a crowd of kids circled around
us within minutes, laughing and playing along. That’s when I knew I had
stumbled on something special.
5. Building Blocks
Everything from LEGOs to wooden blocks to those big
cardboard bricks—all sanity-savers, I tell you.
Whether you pack the kids in a stroller or just head outside
into nature, there’s typically enough going on—planes flying, birds
chattering, leaves blowing—to keep your little one stimulated. Grass, rocks,
and dirt alone is enough to quietly occupy the little ones. And don’t get me
started on sticks.
7. Play Clay
Whether you go for the store-bought variety or make your own,
even adults can get sucked into a quiet clay-molding session.
They can paint it, climb in it, and shoot off to the moon.
They can turn it into a fort or a car. The possibilities! We even have this
giant cardboard house that Noah spent weeks coloring and playing inside.
Once the weather warms up, chalk can calm down even the
And magnets! Never underestimate the mesmerizing allure of a
pile of magnets.
Get the kids into the kitchen with some age-appropriate
baking—like measuring, dumping, and mixing. And, of course, chatter-boxes
can’t chatter with food in their mouths (at least not as much).
12. Big Helper
Break out a mini toy vacuum when you’re cleaning up the
floors, or hand your little one a rag to help clean up. Many toddlers will
eagerly want to be a big helper!
This has been the #1 source of quiet-time play in the Horton
house—and I especially love listening to his imaginary scenarios and
14. Train Sets
A combination of building (tracks), magnets, and play
figurines—no wonder train popularity peaks in toddlerhood.
15. Some Screen
When all else fails, break out the digital books and iPad
games—the most effective tool in the history of parenting. And enjoy that
sweet, sweet silence.