Children have fun learning and bonding, which develops a sense of confidence and security. As a kaiako (teacher) of children in home based childcare, I’ve learnt that having fun not only brings joy to your child’s day, but yours too. Here’s 13 fun indoor activities for under two year olds.

As a parent or in home childcare provider, you should let your inhibitions go, be a bit silly, forget the mess and join in with play wholeheartedly.

The benefits of creative play are absolutely huge for the development of your two year old. And you’ll find that encouraging creative play from an early age will be a great start for your wee one.

Here are some fun indoor activities that you can do with your under two year olds to encourage learning through play.

1. Mini sand pit – use a large storage container and fill with sand (around $7 from hardware stores). Add some sand toys and you have your own mini indoor sandpit that you can pop the lid on and put away when you have finished. Develops – hand eye coordination and dexterity in the hands and fingers.

2. Box play – open up a large box at each end so it forms a tunnel. On the inside have textures to crawl on such as bubble wrap, carpet squares, silky materials, pillows or some leaves. Enhances – large muscle development and sensory exploration.

3. Paddling pool – bring the paddling pool inside for a change. You can fill it with balloons, pillows or different textured material scraps. Great for newly sitting infants. If you’re keen put out some towels and have a warm water pool party inside. Extends – sensory play.

4. Laundry basket – fill it with pillows and it makes a fun place for baby to sit and watch as you do any necessary housework while still feeling part of things.

5. Treasure baskets – have baskets or containers around the home with interesting items for your baby or toddler to find. Curiosity is a prime motivator for learning so what better motivation than crawling or walking around the house to find some ‘treasures’. Babies and toddlers love to explore so put toys in boxes with lids, under blankets and inside pillow cases. Fill baskets with safe objects such as wooden spoons, plastic bowls, and tennis balls.  Fosters – learning through the senses. Developing an understanding of object permanency – objects exist even when they can’t see them.

6. Painting – there is lots of non-toxic children’s paints out there to buy at affordable prices or you can make your own using the following recipe; Finger paint – Mix 150 grams of cornflour to a smooth consistency with water. Add boiling water slowly and stir until thick. Add a few drops of food colouring. Pop your child in their high chair and squirt some paint on the tray and let them go for it. You can press paper on the tray to take a ‘print’ of their painting. Provides – sensory play, dexterity in the hands, early science with colours mixing and changing.

7. Balloons – fill some with water (use a funnel before blowing it up) or some with sand. The balloons will feel, move and sound different. Develops – cause and effect – their actions have a reaction.

8. Tummy time – use a baby safe mirror for interest and have board books propped up around a baby to look at – great for early literacy skills as this is when it all starts. Make sure you put objects on both sides so your baby doesn’t always look at one side. If you have noticed that your baby already favours one side, put some toys only on the opposite side a few times a week. Extends – physical development.

9. Old fashioned games – these really are the best. There’s a reason they’ve been around for a long time. Playing peek a boo and doing action nursery rhymes such as round and round the garden are some of the simple pleasures. Babies love it when you stand in front of the mirror and play peek a boo. Develops – self awareness.

10. Huts – make some huts with blankets over tables and chairs or set up some pop up tents inside. Fill with pillows and books for cuddles and stories or pretend your huts are caves.  Enhances imagination.

11. Indoor obstacle course – Have a mattress to jump and roll on, chairs to crawl through, boxes to climb in and out of and tables to climb under. Develops – physical skills.

12. Dance with your baby or toddler – hold them close and waltz or make them laugh with some 70’s disco.  Develops – rhythm and coordination.

13. Have a party for no reason – blow up some balloons, invite over other parents and children and get them to bring a plate. You could even turn it into a toy swap where each family can swap some toys. Enhances – social development.

Goodbye phone and internet?

Well at least for the day or even a few hours. Checking our phones and Facebook or answering emails takes us away from the moment and interrupts the natural flow of play with your child.

Set some time aside where these are off or at least on silent and enjoy the time with your child.

Always remember the old saying “they grow so fast”  is really true! Let your inner child out and have lots of fun with your children, or the children that you care for at your in home childcare service.

If you’re looking for even more indoor activities for under two year olds, check out our Preschooler activities section.

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Jacqueline Taylor, mum of two, worked for 25 years in ECE and currently works as an early intervention teacher. As a qualified ECE teacher, she is especially interested in working with under 3s to understand and help them develop a strong foundation for the future.

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