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How to Keep a Toddler Busy

Updated on March 10, 2014

Terrible Twos?

If you're the parent of a lively toddler, then it's no surprise to you that they have energy to spare!

You already know that they can and will get into anything and everything that is at eye level (and let's be honest, everything that isn't).

So what can we as parents do to keep these little busy bodies content and out of trouble? Here are a few tricks of the trade that might help you out!


Movies & Shows

Now I'm not saying to plop your child in front of the TV all day everyday, but it's not a crime to let them watch a movie or show once in a while. Depending on their age, they're going to have different qualities in shows that they enjoy.

Got a two-year-old? Try a movie gift basket filled with Little Einsteins, Handy Manny, Dora the Explorer, Bob the Builder, or any animated movie such as Toy Story, Despicable Me, Monsters Inc, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, etc. These are all great places to start. These are wonderful if you have an iPad, iPod, iPhone or any type of smart phone where you can play movies or shows in the car. I know from experience that car rides are a tough time to keep toddlers strapped down and happy!

Three-year-olds might require something more appealing and attention-grasping. Just make sure that it's age appropriate. We've watched Spiderman and Iron Man which are every little boy's dream. The superhero phase is never really grown out of!

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Group Games

Not only do games improve brain functions and thought processing, but it's fun for kids to take part in! These games can be with or without you, depending on the circumstances. Good games to play with your toddler include:

  • Operation
  • Memory
  • Go Fish
  • Hide and Seek
  • Hi-Ho Cheery-O
  • Guess Who
  • Candy Land


Solo Games

Sometimes we just need to keep them busy while we clean, make dinner, or help the older kids with their homework. When that's the case, it's okay to give them activities to do by themselves. It's not a bad thing! They have to learn to be independent and problem solve on their own too! A few good activities for toddlers to do by themselves include:

  • Puzzles
  • Coloring Books (Goal: Only color inside the lines!)
  • Matching Games (Memory, etc.)
  • Baby Book Gifts
  • Build Train Tracks


Let Them Help

Sometimes all our children want is to do is be around us, and be treated like a big kid. You can help them teach responsibility and life skills all at once if you let them help you with some of the little details.

You might even find that once they rise up to the challenge, they want to move on and learn bigger tasks!

If you're stressed out about household tasks, or chores, give them a shot! Let them set the table, fold their baby clothes, separate lights and darks, or take out the trash. These are all things that they have seen you do before and that's half the battle.

Show them how to do it and then let them try their hand. If they don't do it perfect, that's okay! Give them positive reinforcement for trying and you'll find yourself to have a new little helper when things need to get done.


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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I think these are excellent ideas -- but sometimes all you need to give them is a large box and they'll find creative ways to use it. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • janices7 profile image

      Janice S 5 years ago

      Great hub! Entertaining my nephews is always a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, they like running around outside and playing Wii which I love too so we play lots of Mario Kart together.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 5 years ago from East Coast, United States

      The short attention span of a toddler can really drive you crazy and you really have to stay ahead of them to keep them out of trouble. Lucky that they are so darn cute and entertaining. I would limit TV though. Some doctors feel that a child should watch no TV at all.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      This is a great hub, not only do these suggestions keep them occupied but they are learning at the same time.

      My granddaughter used to insist on washing the dishes when she was younger on her visits, I just did the mopping up adterwards. Lol.

      Super hub and wonderful advice, voting up

    • kjrzeek1 profile image

      kjrzeek1 5 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Great sdvice. I have a 4 year old and he needs to be kept busy or else..I try and limit TV, but sometimes it is a must!

    • Nicole S profile image

      Nicole S Hanson 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Lots of great tips here! My little guy is always getting into things the second I turn around. I love the idea of having them help, it's a great start!