Back 2 School: Things to do with your toddler when their siblings are at school

ATLANTA — Having a child at school can be difficult if you have another at home who’s now left without a playmate.

Here are some ideas to get you started on activities that you can do to keep your toddler occupied while their older siblings are at school.

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1.) If the weather is nice, why not kick start the day with 15 minutes of playtime outside? Whether it's in your backyard or at the playground near your older kid's school, playtime and fresh air can help tire out your toddler in time for lunch. On a hot day, you can add toys to a small bucket of water with cubes of ice in it and let baby splash and play.

2.) Put down large sheets of construction paper, then tape crayons or markers to toy cars and let your toddler roll them around on the paper-floor, creating a picture-masterpiece every mother could love.

3.) Around lunchtime, since kids put everything in their mouth anyway, pierce hot dogs with uncooked pasta noodles and cook the pasta as normal. Then, voila, food you can encourage your toddler to play with. Feel free to add food coloring to the pasta for a colorful meal, or make a hot dog and noodle necklace for those who want to take a little more time.

[Back to School 2021: When does my district return to the classroom?]

4.) Around bath time for baby, run a glowing bath that’s sure to sparkle and dazzle baby. Get stick-on glow in the dark stars, glowsticks and glowing shapes and place them on the walls around your toddler. You can add some glowing bath toys as well and let them splash and play in outer space -- with supervision, of course. Feel free to cut up some pool noodles and add them for homemade bath toys.

5.) Create a sensory board for you growing baby. Take a cardboard shoe box or something similar with smooth edges and glue down fun things your baby can touch, like ribbon, sandpaper, cotton balls, silk, old patterned gift wrap and bubble wrap for your toddler to safely explore. The same idea can be done on a short wall space if you're comfortable safely and securely affixing the materials to the wall. Add a mirror so that your toddler can see themselves as they play.

6.) If you toddler likes to draw on the walls, you can get a smooth, but large cardboard box and put them in it, equipped with markers, crayons or even glitter. Do not close the box and add a bubble wrap mat taped to the bottom of the box for added fun.

7.) Get large, gallon-sized plastic bags. Separately, take a piece of white paper and put globs of different colored paint onto it. Carefully slip the paper with the paint on it into the bag. Close the bag and tape the closed bag to a surface. Let your toddler squish and move the colors around in the bag, painting without the mess.

8.) Put different colors of glitter into mini water bottles and even add food coloring if you want to get creative. Seal the water bottles with clear, strong glue so that they cannot be reopened and let your toddler roll them and shake them around. You can vary the amounts of water, glitter, food coloring or even colorful rocks per bottle.


9.) Cut a slit into the top of the plastic top that goes on top of a Folgers coffee can, for example. Give your baby large, plastic coins, big enough that they can't swallow them. When your baby does something right or you want to congratulate them, use this fake-money, makeshift kindness jar for them to add coins to.

10.) Take molding clay or Play-doh and stick a stick of uncooked pasta in the center of it. Let your baby put cheerios onto it as they eat in the highchair. This is for children who can be trusted not to poke their eyes out with the uncooked pasta. Watch your child as they play.

11.) If your baby sits in a swing or seat inches from the floor, you can put a small bucket of sand or smooth pebbles inside a container and let their feet explore the texture as they sit and play while you cook, shower, or do chores.

12.) If your toddler wants to do everything you do, make a black Velcro chore board. Cut out colorful shapes that stick to Velcro and let them add pieces to the board every time they help you. When they reach the goal for the day, give your toddler a special prize and let them clear the board off before a brand-new day. Make the board into a big puzzle if you want to get more creative.

13.) Get a laundry basked that has large holes in it, then weave string throughout the basket, creating a maze of string. Then add balls, toys and stuffed animals at the bottom and let you baby figure out how to pull them out.

14.) If your toddler is walking and wants to help around the house, make a square on the kitchen floor with blue tape or something similar. Buy a short broom, then let your toddler try to sweep everything into the square. This will help mommy around the house and allows your toddler to have fun helping.

15.) Get playpen-sized balls and let your toddler balance them on a cupcake baking pan or an empty egg carton.

16.) When your toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls are finished, gather the leftover cardboard tubes and align them on a wall with tape and let you toddler drop things in at the top of the maze and see them fall out at the bottom. Arrange them in lines, zig-zag or otherwise. Add a bucket at the bottom for easy clean up.