Indoor Activities for Stir Crazy Toddlers

Cold rainy days stuck inside got you feeling stir crazy? I’ve got you covered with 4 indoor activities for toddlers! All 4 options are low-budget and will get your toddler engaged.

Salt Dough “Play-dough”

Homemade salt dough is a winning activity for all ages, from young toddler on up. (I remember some Toddler playing with Salt Doughelementary school snow days making salt dough!) Depending on your kiddo’s age, you can either prepare the dough for them or let those busy little hands make it themselves.

The awesome thing about salt dough is that it’s made with pantry ingredients that you probably have on hand.

You can add food coloring for fun colors. Break out the rolling pin and cookie cutters, or let your little ones squish it, roll it and pat it with their hands. (You know you want to get your hands in there, too. That squish of dough is just strangely satisfying!)

If you’re interested, you can bake the final creations for keepsakes or ornaments. It just depends on how Pinterest-y you’re feeling.

Find a recipe on Pinterest, like this one:

Simple Salt Dough

Bake Something!

If there’s one secret to having small toddlers help you out in the kitchen, it’s this: Get your ingredients prepped before your little one scoots up to the counter.Toddler using the mixer

I like to use the TV as a distraction while I get the mis en place ready. My goal is to have everything we need out on the counter so that I don’t have to step away. Stepping away invites disaster, so get the eggs out of fridge, and even pre-pour the milk into a measuring cup.

Stick with a simple recipe. The kind where you just dump it all into one bowl and mix. My toddler thinks using the mixer is the coolest so this is a big hit in our house. I favor muffins for baking with a toddler—placing the liners into the muffin tin is a great bonus activity for fine motor skills.

Bathtub Crayons

If bath time is normally an evening activity at your house, try switching it to mid-day to mix things up. It’s a Bath tub crayons in actiongreat way to warm up and pass some time. Add bathtub crayons to make it a special activity for your budding Picasso!

We find that bathtub crayons clean up easily with our usual cleaning products, as long as we clean them up within a day or two. It takes a little more elbow grease if you let them sit for too long—especially on grout. You have been warned…

I found a set of bathtub crayons on Amazon. These are the ones we have, but there are lots of options!

Window Crayons

As an alternative to bathtub crayons, Santa brought some Crayola Window Crayons to our house this Christmas, and they’ve been a hit. They also clean up really easily with regular window cleaner.

The theme here is that your kiddo gets to color off the paper without mom flipping out. It’s pretty exciting!

Wash Dishes

This is actually my favorite item on the list. Yes, it requires supervision and there is a lot of splashing. And, sometimes I have to re-wash some dishes But it’s worth it! Hear me out, mamas. 

Toddler washing dishes.
Yes, he’s standing on a chair, while constantly supervised. Be safe!

I learned that my son loves washing dishes from his Montessori school teacher. I never would have thought to let him try it! He started learning this skill at his Montessori school before he even turned 2. Plus, he is able to wash the breakable dishes, too.

A few reasons dish washing is such a hit:

  1. Your kiddo sees mom and dad wash dishes, so of course they want to do anything they see you do.
  2. It gives your kiddo the feeling that they are capable and they contributed to important household work. This is a huge self-esteem booster for a young toddler, especially.
  3. Dish washing is a very physical activity for a small body. Both fine and gross motor skills are engaged, and that adds up to my favorite thing: wearing them out! A long dish-washing session gets my toddler almost as tired as going to the park, no joke.

I hope I’ve sold you on the idea. Give it a few tries and see how it goes!

I like to make sure I have a stack of dish towels standing by, so my son can easily wipe up the splashed water as we go. I pre-fill the sink with a few inches of warm, soapy water. Then I give my son the sponge and let him get started. At 2 years old, we spend a lot of time working on doing things in order (e.g., first you scrub, then you rinse, then you put it in the drainer).

It takes longer than doing the dishes myself, but there’s not a toddler fussing at my feet while I do it, so it’s a win!

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Emily Hassman is a mama & artist living in a funny little ‘50s ranch in Smyrna. Her wild child Julian was born in 2014—he’s been keeping Emily and her husband Scott on their toes ever since! Emily left her career in IT after a long year as a working mom. Now she is pursuing her dream of working as an artist and maker. She is fueled by big dreams, lots of coffee, and getting outside every day. Find her on her blog Boolean (rhymes with Julian!), on Etsy, and on Instagram as @emily_hassman.