How to entertain a toddler without a smartphone? Is not that easy as it might seem to be. Nowadays we really are so dependent on these devices, that it’s hardly possible to imagine our normal lives without them. Let’s face it, do we really want it? Probably not.
And you may be surprised to know that, as I see it, using a smartphone for entertaining a toddler isn’t inherently better or worse than a toy or a paper book. I believe nothing will happen to a child if he is being entertained with a smartphone.
The issue is for how long a kid is being exposed to the devices. It’s obvious that now we can’t pretend that smartphones do not exist, and we are not able to block an access of the kids to modern technologies. Internet and all electronic devices we have are an integral part of present reality.
I do know that majority of parents do their utmost to take a good care of their kids, but we all are humans, and we cannot spend every minute entertaining our child. We need to work, cook, clean, and have a rest too, at least have some private time for ourselves. Hope no one is going to argue that taking care of a kid is about a 24/7 job.
Just letting you know, if playing with a smartphone or watching any cartoon on my tablet keeps my little one busy for 10-15 minutes, I’ll go for it and either have a rest or a shower or whatever I’m up too at that very moment.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a child should be left either with a smartphone or a tablet for hours, I’m trying to be reasonable and take advantage of modern technologies.
There are a lot of cartoons or programs focusing on enhancing kids’ skills and strengthening their general awareness in different spheres of life and building language, social and other skills too. Having said that, some of them could be a perfect entertaining time for a whole family.
However, in our family we agreed upon the following: kitchen/dining room, bedroom, playroom and a car are gadget free zones. In those places we refrain from using smartphones and/or tablets. And my husband and I had to be a good example for our kids. Well, to be fair, it was not that easy.
I bet you understand what I mean…What is the first thing most of us are doing when we open our eyes? Turning to the mobile, of course. But we are managing without gargets perfectly well at the moment. Now we have more time to talk with each other how we get through the day, discuss plans for the coming weekends or holidays, birthdays, etc.
Below is the list of my worthy alternatives to a smartphone. Let’s have a look!
How to Entertain a Toddler Without a Smartphone: Reading (Books and Activities)
After setting the gadget free zones rule, I realized that I have more chances for reading too: instead of wasting time in the net and looking through some pics and posts, I take a book and read. When I was a kid one of my favorite memories were cuddling in with my granny and falling asleep while she read fairy tales to me – needless to say that I caught the reading bug after. I also loved when my parents were reading to me.
How to entertain a 2 year old
I do exactly the same with my little princess. For me it’s the best way to entertain 2-year-old. She loves The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I used to read it many times but she has never been tired of the story! Highly recommend it!
You can use this book in educational purposes. I started with teaching my toddler girl names of the fruits and some food, shapes and colors; days of the week and now we are doing counting. Using bead for toddlers’ kit I help her to do her own colorful hungry caterpillar (like a necklace, to be exact). I got to admit, it’s a lot of fun and a good chance to teach my little one shapes and color recognition.
How to entertain a 3 year old
Actually, you can think of many activities based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar. How to entertain a 3 year old? You can help him to draw a caterpillar (a few circles), to make a paper caterpillar or explain the lifestyle of this fuzzy, worm-like insect.
Press Here Board book is another must-have in toddler’s library. The purpose of this amazing book is to teach your toddler cause and effect. There are many instructions to follow and embark upon a world of new discoveries! Truth be told, I love this interactive book myself. It’s a great fun and lots of surprises for adults as well.
If you need to entertain 3-year-old, Dot to dot and Step-by-step drawing books are a good option too. These books are will give your little one a chance to try his hand at drawing and make his first steps in this sphere. As a general rule, the books have clear instructions and basic techniques that are very easy to follow. I believe they are perfect fun books for would-be artists. Just buy some crayons and you have a nice set for some hours of fun!
You can also consider coloring books for toddlers, there are lots of them nowadays. They are easy to use as they all include color prompts and a matching color key to help a toddler to learn colors and find a right one. My little princess loves coloring books now, but the start was not very promising…
You might have guessed what she did with the crayons and coloring books. She kept throwing both of them all over the floor, and when she had a chance, she tried to rip up the books. It wasn’t that easy to divert her attention to crayons and coloring books. But I did my best to be extremely patient with her, and it worked.
My second-best activity for 2- and 3-year-old toddler are the flashcards. I have different sets with various whimsical images and full-color illustrations.
These cards work perfectly well for my kids. I can say that for them it was the easiest and the simplest way to learn about colors and shapes, numbers, many words, and a world around them. Repetition is the key for improving child’s memorization skills.
3D puzzles are another good option to keep a toddler busy for some time and develop his color and shape recognition and problem-solving skills. To get the most out of any type of puzzles (3d, magnet, wooden, paper, plastic), I let my toddler girl do everything herself.
She loves to fit pieces into the right spots, and use them for an imaginative pretend play too.
Felt boards can also be used to entertain a 2-year old toddler. You can either buy a set with lots of pieces or do it yourself. Note, that some of the felt boards are travel friendly. They include a portable felt board and a storage bag for all tiny pieces and can be used anywhere.
As my little princes loves drawing, Doodle Magnetic Drawing Board is always at hand. It really keeps her busy during long car rides, for example.
My little girl also loves wrapping and unwrapping things (both in aluminum foil and normal paper). Sometimes we do it with her tiny toys, sometimes with fruits and vegetables. That’s a great chance for her to learn shapes and colors and learn new words.
How to Entertain a Toddler: Play Kitchens
If you have one, do your best to involve your little one in any cooking activities.
If I want to draw an attention of my daughter to this toy, I always pretend to be hungry and ask my little chef to cook something for me (depends on type of utensils, pretend food and accessories available).
Most of the kids love dramatic play and immediately start cooking. You might be pleasantly surprised watching your child playing and probably even copying your behavior in the kitchen.
If your little chef doesn’t have a play kitchen yet, my review of Best play kitchens for toddlers might be of help.
How to Entertain a Toddler: Musical Toys
A musical toy is a great way to amuse a toddler. I’ve already written a review of best musical toys for toddlers and not going to repeat myself. You can read it here.
The truth is, if your toddler is used to pass the time with a smartphone or a tablet, it’s not that easy to divert his attention to other activities. I bet most of the kids have a great number of toys in the houses, however, it’s always better when these toys are in demand by the kids and not in the bottom of a toy box.
And when it comes to any toy, quality matters not quantity. Well, it’s hard to imagine that a toddler would pick a toy himself and spend hours entertaining himself. Our presence and guidance are needed all the time. The earlier we start with this, the better.
Just don’t forget that in order to do it, you should offer worthy alternative to your little one.