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Toddler Fun: Play, Travel, Cook, and Get Outside!

One of the best things about toddlers is how fun they are. They are completely uninhibited and full of creativity and energy. They learn, and learn, and learn some more and love every minute of it. Having fun with your toddler can range from a planned activity to just cuddling and giggling in bed. It can range from playing, to going outside, to family vacations, to cooking together. This post pulls together some great ideas for having fun with your toddlers.


Nurture Store came up with a great list of Top 5 Toddler Play Ideas especially for the Carnival of Toddlers. Head over there to read more about how to:

  • Make your play space toddler friendly

  • Encourage super sensory play

  • Boost your toddler's language skills

  • Play grown-up

  • Be inspired

On that last point, there is so much inspiration out there. Some great places to look include The PhD in Parenting Carnival of Play and my friend Allie's great craft blog No Time for Flash Cards.  Do you like paint and play dough? If so, check out these recipes and ideas from Sixty Second Parent and Nurture Store. When you're all done, it is time to clean up those toys and Code Name Mama has some great tips on getting your toddlers to help pick up.

Go Outside

I think one of the most important things is for toddlers to have the opportunity to go outside and play in an unstructured and exploratory environment. Let them roll the grass, pick up leaves, stroke the bark of the tree, watch the ants walking around, gaze at the clouds, and more. If you're looking for fun ideas for things to do outside (even in the rain!), check out my Carnival of Play posts on outdoor play.


A lot of people are scared to travel with toddlers. Don't be afraid! It can be a lot of fun, as Corinne from Have Baby Will Travel will tell you. Her website is full of amazing resources for parents who want to travel with their babies and toddlers. Codename Mama also has a list of ideas to help make travel with toddlers easier. We've done both structured and unstructured vacations with our kids, ranging from resorts to camping and from Europe to Cuba.

The important thing is to respect your toddler's pace and abilities and come up with a plan that is flexible and keeps their needs in mind. Every destination has tons of great things to do with toddlers, from more structured options (like Children's museums) to impromptu activities (like counting the stairs on the steps of a Cathedral). Travelling with a toddler is the best way to ensure that you stop to smell the roses along the way, whether you are exploring a world far from home or just the next town over.

Cook and Bake

Do you like to cook with your toddler? Involving your toddler in the food process can be one great way to get them interested in eating. Two of my readers like to get their toddlers involved in the meal planning. Check out the great meals that Housewife's Utopia and Life With Roozle's toddlers came up with.

I don't do a lot of cooking with my kids, but we love to bake together. It has become a weekend tradition and now I often have to bake with one of them on Saturday and the other one on Sunday so that they both get a turn. Whether it is granola bars, zucchini muffins, or leftover cereal cookies, they love being able to help measure and mix and of course they're happy to taste test once things are done.

As you are cooking, think about incorporating some of Sixty Second Parent's ideas for exploring the senses of smell and taste.

How Do You Have Fun With Your Toddler?

This is just a beginning. There are, of course, so many things that you can do with your toddler. Reading was another important fun activity with my kids. What other fun ideas do you have for hanging out with your toddler?

Toddler Carnival Sponsor

 Photo credits: Toddler with bubbles from abbybatchelder on flickr.
« Toddler Behaviour: What's Up With That? | Main | What Toddlers Can Teach Us »

Reader Comments (8)

one of our favorite activities here all times of year, but especially when the temp outside dips below 20 is to turn on and/or up the music and dance, move, sing, and be silly together. I sometimes demonstrate formal steps, sometimes bust out instruments, but also follow her lead and try out her moves too (a lot of squatting and spinning action).
I do cook with her a bit, but I am still trying to figure out a safer way to allow her to see the counter and participate in the prep.

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermegan w.

We also love to chase, dig in the dirt (for HOURS), dance, bake, and travel. I love to travel with my toddler and preschooler. I don't love sitting on the floor building things with Legos, but I love to *do* things with them - take them somewhere or integrate them into what I'm doing. Toddlers love to help! They can sweep, empty the dishwasher, "help" wash dishes in the sink, vacuum, wash windows, even fold laundry (the older ones), as well as bake.

I think the age of about 10 months (that's when my kids started walking) to 2.5 are just the best. Watching the joy light up my 1.5 y.o. is pure magic.

@ megan - you could always do the safe prep stuff on a small, toddler sized table, rather than on the counter, to make it safer and easier for the L.O. My kids caught on really quickly about not touching mommy's knife, and they love to put the cut veggie in a bowl, although they love to measure and pour the dry ingredients the most.

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErin

We have stools that the kids use to get up to the sinks in the bathroom. When they help out in the kitchen, they go get their stool from the bathroom and bring it into the kitchen.

January 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

We have all types of tea parties. Dress up, Victorian, Disney themed.

January 19, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermichele

Fun ideas! My son loves to bake with me-I give him his own spoon to stir, and I let him put liner papers into the muffin tin if we are making cupcakes or muffins. He loves crafty stuff too...but only for a couple of minutes at a time, lol. I think he likes baking better because he understands that the end result is going to be something delicious.

January 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrunchy Con Mommy

When my kids were toddlers one of their favourite things to do was to play dress up. We had a trunk full of costumes that we filled gradually over the years Often we went out after Halloween to pick up inexpensive costumes from grocery stores that were selling them off, but also to the Salvation Army where we often dug up some great secondhand finds: flowing robes, "wedding" type dresses, costume jewellery. Great fun... especially when you invite little friends to play along too.

January 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterandrea from the fishbowl

My little ones LOVE to help bake, but they won't eat anything we make together! It doesn't matter how sweet and yummy and chocolate chip-y. They just won't eat it. (Which ironically makes me feel less guilty for having lots of sweets around the house.) (They do, naturally, eat all kinds of baked goods we can purchase.)

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterErin

We just got back from the UK with our toddler. He is really a fantastic traveler every time we go somewhere. The only issue this time was food. But nothing spaghetti or pizza every night couldn't fix.

Right now fort building is big in our house. Love it!

January 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJen

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