Enjoying winter with toddlers really can be easy. There is something magical about how toddlers view winter; everything is new and wondrous, even if it’s their 3rd winter! I vividly recall standing at the window with my first child as he watched snowflakes drift silently to the ground for the first time. He was captivated.
Since then, I have been lucky to share the magic of winter with quite a few more toddlers. Each winter, I find new ways to appreciate winter with the little people in my life, and I wanted to share some of them with you.
One of the most helpful tips I’ve found about dealing with busy toddlers and finding things to do with toddlers in the winter when sometimes it’s harder to get outdoors is to watch the rhythm of your day. Bursts of more energetic activity followed by downtime and periods of resting, then followed again by something that involves getting outdoors or using their body for big gross motor play can keep toddlers on an even keel.
Active Play for Toddlers in Winter:
- With the right outdoor gear for your tot, you can enjoy snow activities with toddlers.
- If you’re stuck indoors, you can play with toys that help burn energy and get toddlers moving.
- A sensory activity can be the perfect way to engage toddlers inside due to winter weather – Play-Doh is a particular sanity saver around here.
- Making an obstacle course gets toddlers moving
too. Hands on as We Grow has some fantastic easy to make obstacle course ideas.
- And, as the saying goes – if they get cranky, put them in water. Bath time can be a fun way to do a bit of sensory/water play in winter. Here are some of our favorite bath toys for toddlers in the tub.
Indoor Activities for Your Toddler
If it is far too cold to take your toddler out on some days during the winter, then as parents, you are tasked with trying to find fun and creative ways to keep them occupied indoors while also finding ways for them to run off all that excess energy they have building up. So, what do you do?
In addition to the tips and things above, we also recommend the following:
Build an Indoor Play Gym
An indoor play gym helps build essential motor skills and coordination while letting them burn off some of that pent up energy. You can blow up a small children’s inflatable pool and fill it with balls to make your own ball pit. You can also give them sensory balls and a bucket to help with tactile senses. In addition to these, a small slide, a trampoline, and a popup tent and tunnel are all great ways to round up your little DIY indoor play area.
This is a learning and developmental activity that will appeal to your younger child’s senses. Sensory bins are visual, textural, and audible and can help with fine motor skills, matching, and even counting. All you need are a few random bins you probably already have laying around the home. Now fill these bins with objects from around the home – as long as it is safe and child-friendly, of course. You can then let your little one begin to explore and discover all these things.
What toddler doesn’t love to dress up as their favorite television or movie characters and pretend play? Maybe they want to have a tea party with their many stuffed animals. For this activity, you can allow your child to have some “supervised” alone time, so they can play with their toys and learn to be creative and use their imagination.
Build a Fort
Remember back in the day when we all would use pillows and blankets to make a fort in the living room? Well, why not let your younger children experience that same thing this winter? The best part? Now, they have actual fort building kits you can purchase. Many of them will come with all the essentials that are needed to build an amazing fort that will probably last slightly longer than our classic blanket forts of the past. Once you help them build the fort of their dreams, why not snuggle in for some story time?
Want to get out of the house, but it is still too cold to take your toddler outside to play? How about some of these other winter activities for toddlers?
Have you ever considered getting a museum pass? It is the perfect thing to do on rainy days, cold winter days, or days where you and your child are bored and want to get out of the house for a while. It is something fun and educational that you can both do together.
Swimming in winter? Yup. Many clubs and other local organizations offer indoor swim lessons during the winter months in their indoor pool to get your child ready for the impending warmer weather. These classes can last from one day to a course of several weeks depending on what kind of swim lessons you want your little one to have.
Outdoor Winter Activities for Your Toddler
You may not think there is much for your toddler to do outdoors during the winter because they are still young, but that would be wrong. There are several activities your toddler can participate in.
This is a fun activity you will definitely want to do together. You can go down your favorite hills or make it an event with friends and family. It is also a good time to introduce some pretend play and encourage some creativity by making up a game or story to go along with your sledding fun. Here are our favorite sleds for toddlers.
Build a Snow Fort
For this, you break apart some snow and form it into blocks and then stack them in place. You can take the opportunity to have a conversation with your child and maybe talk about the different shapes of the blocks and the sizes as you build your snow fort. It helps develop motor control and has your child work on lifting and balance.
Flatten out an area in the snow and show them how they can draw shapes in the snow with their mittens or even a stick. You can even let them scavenge the area to find small items they can use to create artwork in the snow.
No matter which of these activities you decide on for your toddler, don’t forget the hot cocoa!
What do you think about some of these hands-on activities for your toddler to do during the winter? Have any other ideas you care to share with us? Let us know!
Follow active play with a snuggle and good book.
About the Author
Alissa is a resilience coach, cartoonist, and advocate for ‘connection, not perfection’. She’s dedicated to helping others find a sense of safety and belonging inside themselves so they can heal, connect, and build authentic, joyful lives.