baby and toddler activities, Parenting

5 Free Activities for Toddlers

At this time of year, the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to have a mix of indoor and outdoor activities on-hand to keep your toddler amused and learning. The list of things you can pay to take your kids to, or things you could buy to amuse them is much vaster than this. However, unless you’re a millionaire it’s just not practical or possible to fork out every time your kid is bored or needs some stimulation.

Here are 5 go-to activities that cost nowt, but will keep your child amused, active and learning.

Feed-the-ducks-toddler-activity1 Feed the ducks

Maybe I’m showing my age, as maybe it was something to do with Rosie & Jim, but I always loved going to feed the ducks as a child. Watching all the ducks come up for bread, sometimes getting a glimpse of little baby ducks and feeling a bonus thrill if swans or geese dropped by was often enough to make it fun. However if you feel like making it more of an educational experience, why not count the number of ducks and swans with your child, or point out the different types of birds that are feeding.

2 Playpark

Failsafe option every time. Playparks are always a winner, as kids never seem to get bored of swings or slides! Plus, playparks these days seem to be getting more and more impressive by the minute – flying foxes are all the rage in my neck of the woods! That’s not to mention the elaborate climbing frames, sandpits and trampolines that have become more commonplace in playparks. Usually there will be other kids around in the park too, meaning your toddler can enjoy playing with other kiddos too.

Playdate-toddler-activities3 Playdate

If there’s no other kids at the park, why not get in touch with a mum friend and arrange a playdate? I’ve already written about how much of a saviour playdates are, but don’t just take my word for it, experience it for yourself! Whether you go to their house, they come to you, or you meet in the playpark (weather permitting!), there are loads of benefits for mums and toddlers.

Messy-play-crafts-toddler-activitied4 Messy play/crafts

The same toys and the same cartoons in the house can get boring and repetitive after a while, and your little one might need some more stimulation after a while. If the weather is putting a dampener on any outdoor activities, why not get the crafts out or make some messy play? This doesn’t have to involve buying loads of craft material in – I bet you have plenty of items in the house that could be used. From basic colouring and drawing, to experiencing shaving foam, soapy bubbles and other interesting textures, your household items could become a great hub of crafting and messy play for an afternoon!

5 Bookbug

Another activity which I think is great for babies and toddlers is Bookbug. Run in Scotland in local libraries, Bookbug classes last around 45 minutes and consist of story time, rhymes and play. The aim is that parents and children will also check out books for their child and encourage reading from an early age. Classes are suitable from birth until around three years old, and take place weekly throughout term time. You can find out more about this great free activity in my Bookbug Week 2018 post.

5-free-toddler-activities

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moving-up-bigger-room-nursery
Childcare, Parenting

Moving to a new room in nursery

Just when we thought we were getting comfortable with routines and whatnot, we were told by the nursery that Travis is ready to move up to the “bigger” room. And I’m delighting and despairing at the same time.

“The big room” is the room babies move on to once the nursery are happy that they have become confident toddlers and think they will enjoy the challenge of new games, learning and experiences. The room hosts kids roughly from around 18 months to three years old. Obviously every child is different, so some may move shortly after their first birthday if they are confident walkers, in a good routine, or seem to be getting bored in the baby room, whilst others might be nearer two before they make that step.

I am of course delighted that my little munchkin is ready for this next chapter. At 16 months, I feel like he’s definitely progressed from the eight month old he was when he first started, and has come on so much even since his first birthday in October. Plus he’s been wearing clothes for 2-3 year-olds since the start of the year!

So in a way I wasn’t surprised by this announcement from the nursery, but it was still a bit daunting. I was only just coming to terms with the fact that my boy is no longer a baby, but a toddler, and now I have to prepare for him playing and learning with kids double his age!

toddler-new-challenges-nurseryNew challenges new experiences

One thing a new room promises, is a new environment to explore. The nursery have informed us that Travis will make visits to the new room during his regular nursery sessions, to give him a taster of what goes on in the room, and to get used to this new environment. Hopefully this will minimise the shock and confusion once he moves over there permanently.

I’m confident that he will love this room, as there are not only new toys and new nursery teachers, it’s also a big step away from more of the “baby” items and routines of the old room. For instance, there are little tables and chairs for having breakfast and lunch, rather than the high chairs of the baby room, and instead of cots/cribs for naps, everyone has their own mat and blanket.

In terms of fun, there are more advanced toys to explore, and an outdoor garden area specific to that room, which I’m sure will get much more use as the months go on.

 

independence-nursery-toddler

More independence

Within the bigger room, I think Travis will have more independence, as there’s a lot less one-on-one attention from nursery teachers. I’m hoping this will give him the confidence to explore and play on his own, but also to make friends, share and play with other kids. I’m also hoping that he’ll make the transition from high chair to small table and chair quite smoothly!

 

new-skills-toddler-nursery

Picking up new skills

When he moves up, Travis will be one of the younger ones in the room (despite probably being one of the tallest!), so I would like to think he would start to pick things up quite quickly from some of the older toddlers. Maybe his speech will come on by listening to other kids attempt sentences, and maybe he will get better with cutlery (he’s a very hands-on eater!) by watching kids his own size, and maybe he’ll pick up a million things that I’ll probably immediately wish he hadn’t, as it takes him another step further from being my tiny little baby!

Parenting

Playdates; the winter saviour for toddler mums

Its winter, it’s miserable, it’s dark and there’s nothing exciting like Christmas or New Year left to get excited about. The temperature is sub zero and unpredictable; will it be ice or snow, rain or hail in the morning?

Chances are, you and your toddler aren’t getting out to the park, because even when the sun is shining it’s still Baltic outside and you fear that their bum will freeze to the swing or something (just me?). Nursery is fun and all, but as a fellow mummy friend pointed out, we don’t get to see our little ones play there and we don’t get to join in and play with them.

Watching them play and interact
That’s just one of the things that make play dates so great. You can watch your child play and interact with another child, and get a sense of how they are developing and playing. You can join in and offer any guidance on things like sharing and “being gentle” with younger or smaller kids.

Time with other mums
Adult company is so important for all mums, whether that’s first time mums, new mums, mums of toddlers, teenagers or a whole football team of kids. Whilst the adult company is treasured no matter who it is, there’s nothing like trading stories, worries and advice with a fellow mum. You can talk about your wee one without fear of boring the bum off them (like with co-workers or childless chums) and can enjoy hearing about their wee ones progress or simply lend an ear if needed.

Exploring and learning new things
Play dates in different locations can involve lots of exploring of new surrounding, new toys and new faces. This is why it’s a great idea to switch play dates up between parents houses and places like soft play. Your child will not only enjoy uncovering new toys at their friends house, they will also discover new ways to play with their own toys with a play pal.

Making the day more exciting
In the winter, it can sometimes feel like days blur into the one same monotonous routine, guided by the weather. This often means staying in or finding indoor activities to amuse your child. Playdates take the boredom out of the repetition of staying indoors, making the day that little more exciting for your child. It might not seem like much to us, but even the addition of just one friend and mum into their usual daily space can add much more excitement and fun to their playtime.

I’m sure there are many more reasons why playdates are an absolute godsend for toddler mums, all backed up with scientific evidence and everything, but these are the things I’ve found to work and benefit out little family. I’d be interested to know if you have any other points to add or different ways you keep your toddler amused and learning in the winter!

 

PS Shout out to my mum pal who inspired this post after a play date with her and her little bear. Check out her videos here.