Things to do with toddlers before they turn two

Many of you have followed our list of 52 things to do with a baby and are hungry for more. What happens after Week 52?

Toddlers possess the amazing ability to simultaneously demonstrate knowledge about how the world works AND cluelessness about their role in it. (Sorry Sweetie, Mommy is not going to help you push the stove out of the way so that you can ride your plastic car through that part of the kitchen.) No longer satisfied by an activity gym on the floor, they are ready for some more exciting activities.

A helpful list of things to do with toddlers

Here are some that we like:

Indoor activities for toddlers (which are also handy when you need to make a phone call or complete an online purchase without someone hanging off your body.)

  1. Sitting in front of an open cupboard or drawer full of plastic storage containers and messing around with them.
  2. Hunkering down in an unexpected place, such as inside the closet or under a table. Throw a sheet over it to make it special. {tips for a better blanket fort}
  3. Squeezing and squishing play-doh. Fear mess? Keep the playdough in a sealed baggie while your child handles it.
  4. Drinking toddler tea out of a real ceramic cup (add lemon or a shake of cinnamon to warm water). We love this gender-neutral set for pretend play and real use.
  5. Turning regular shoes into tap shoes, and back again.
  6. Gathering all the washcloths in the house and laying them out in various patterns. “Shoot it out!” my daughter used to say. Washcloths are more manageable for little ones than baby blankets, but blankets are a good time, too.
  7. Playing with magnets on a cookie sheet or metal bucket.
  8. Helping sweep up with a little dust pan.
  9. Placing different lengths of Scotch Tape or masking tape onto paper or the side of a box.
  10. Sitting in a box. Yep.
  11. Taping up a train track on the rug. Choo choo.
  12. Getting silly with finger puppets.
  13. Playing hopscotch inside.
  14. Organizing small objects, like Cheerios, in a muffin tin.
  15. Creating a felt food feast.
  16. Pouring water between containers at the kitchen counter (AKA potching)
  17. Trying on all the hats in the house.
  18. Removing everything from the bookshelves. Maybe putting them back.
  19. Sticking and unsticking stickers! On the paper, on your shirt, on your cheek. Hooray.
  20. Playing in a ball pit from your old pack n play.
  21. Helping grind coffee beans (or is this just my kid?).
  22. Tearing up paper – use old magazines or newspaper.
  23. No-mess finger painting.
  24. Banging pots and pans really loud (not so great for that phone call).
  25. Solving puzzles like these simple ones.
  26. Running trains over the tracks you put together.

Outdoor activities for toddlers

  1. Discovering how chalk works on the ground outside
  2. Playing hide-and-seek with small toys or fruit from a tree, Easter Egg-style. (Give your child a bucket to collect the items you’ve “hidden” at the park or in your yard).
  3. Throwing. This simple act never gets old. “Let’s go to the park and throw sticks at the bushes!”
  4. Going anywhere in a bike trailer.
  5. Collecting rocks into a container. Stacking rocks. Lining up rocks. I’m surprised they don’t sell rocks at Toys R Us. I bet someone has tried.
  6. Pouring water in and out of a large container.
  7. Starting a butterfly garden.
  8. Playing fetch with stomp rockets or other “blast-off and chase” toys

Outings for moms with toddlers

  1. Home Depot or other massive hardware store. Check out the light switches, the door bells, the orange cones. Basically every thing your kiddo enjoys seeing in the world around him is sold there. Look at all those potties!
  2. Public Library. Since other people’s toys and books are more fun than your own, this is a place to enjoy them for an hour or two. No pressure to buy anything!
  3. Zoo, time to think about a membership, mama.
  4. Elementary school playground, watch some big kids or test your daredevil.
  5. IKEA. If you’re lucky enough to live near one, here’s a list of why it’s awesome for parents.
  6. Chase the garbage truck! Some days are easier to get out of the house when you know your garbage routes.
  7. Children’s museum (save money on membership when you follow our tips).
  8. Pitch a tent at REI.
  9. Sip pretend coffee at a kid-friendly cafe. (It’s called steamed milk, and they’ll make it not-too-hot if you ask.)
  10. Your friend’s house, where the toys are fresh and novel.
  11. Anywhere with trains.
  12. Push a doll stroller or drag a wagon around the block. Even better, find a friend with a baby in a stroller and let your toddler push her stroller on the World’s Slowest Walk.
  13. Ethiopian or sushi restaurant where eating with your hands is worldly.
  14. Indoor playspace with climbing, bouncing and toys you don’t need to keep at home.
  15. Bus ride, round trip.
  16. Take a class together.
  17. Botanical garden with leaves to touch and bugs to chase.
  18. Toy store; keep your wallet hidden, why not teach now that a store is like a museum of cool stuff to admire?

52 things to do with toddlers before they turn two

Related: Best gifts for a two-year old.

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