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Entertaining a High-Needs Toddler

Entertaining a High-Needs Toddler

Kids get sick. They get sick and you have to stay inside together for 12+ hours at a time. Sometimes they’re just well enough to not want to rest, but just sick enough not to be safely back at daycare. That’s the worst, right? My son isn’t a TV guy. Don’t get me wrong, we know all about Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Toodles is a favorite around here. It’s just that he won’t sit and watch it for more than 10 minutes. He’s just an on-the-go kind of guy! Here’s what we do to have some fun, when we’re cooped up inside.

Art Time

Coloring books, paint, crayons, all of this is readily available at the dollar store. I take his shirt off so he doesn’t take off his clothes, tape down a doggy-pee-pad or some newspaper for easy cleanup, and let him go nuts.

Coloring pages with familiar characters seems to be more fun for him, than just coloring blank pages. Not sure if it’s an age thing, but this is the Mickey Mouse coloring book we have – $5.99 on Amazon.


It says ages 3+ on the container and I think the reasons are obvious. It’s colorful, squishy, and you just want to eat it. I mean… um… toddlers just want to eat it. We play with one color at a time, in a supervised area. I give him things to stick into it, and that seems to be the most age-appropriate game “stick the thing into the playdoh”. Don’t bother with any fancy sets yet.


Sticker Kits

These are such fun. Beginning at 18 months through elementary school, kids love stickers. We found this sticker kit on Amazon and it allows you to peel and re-stick your stickers on to scenes. It does kind of come apart quickly, from a book to individual pages, but that works well for me since I just spread them all out around him. It comes with animal stickers too, so he selects animals as I tell him what they are, what sound they make, what letter they begin with, and ask him where he wants to place them. Then he puts them down. He’s learned a lot about animals this way and we have a fun time with this.

Of course, you have to supervise them if you have a sneaky baby who likes to pop things in their mouth (as mine does). Mine attempted to eat a dinosaur.

Hide and Seek

If your child can understand “I’m going to get you” and “Your turn”, you have a game of tag or hide and seek! Mason always makes me laugh with where he thinks I can’t find him.

Cooking and Cleaning

What is it about kitchens that attract children? I’ve given up on trying to keep my son out, and started teaching him the basics. Now he gets really excited to help Swiffer, stir a bowl, wipe something down. He loves feeling like he’s part of the action, and it’s better than wondering what he’s up to while I’m in the kitchen. I like having my little buddy by my side.


What do you do with your toddler when you have a ton of time to kill, and can’t leave the house?

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