Tiring Out Your Toddler

Ask an adult to name their favorite part of the day and, nine times out of ten, they’ll describe that blissful feeling of sinking into their mattress at night. Ask a toddler what their favorite moment of the day is and they’ll probably tell you that it’s any moment that isn’t bedtime. When it rains or snows (or rains or snows for a few days in a row!), it can be a real challenge to tire out your toddler. So here’s some inspiration to help keep everyone entertained and active!

Follow the leader

If you’ve got a group of kiddos to entertain, follow the leader is a great game for three or more players. First, appoint a leader, then have the followers play along by mimicking the actions of the leader. The leader may choose to jump up and down, act like a monkey, or whatever else comes to mind. Followers who start lagging behind, or don’t obey the leader’s command, are out of the round. The incentive? The last one standing becomes the new leader! If it’s just you and a single little one, challenging him or her to just do what you do is also a safe bet for some fun, active play.


Bump up the jams and have your little one dance along to the music, then shut off the music and yell, “freeze!” Once the music stops, he or she must freeze in whatever position he or she is in, no matter how tricky it is to hold – though for tots who are brand new to the game, just halting dancing on command might be a great first challenge to start with. This is a great way to shake out the sillies and have some laughs, too.

Hide and seek

This classic game doesn’t need much of an introduction, but it sure is a great way to pass the time and get creative. If you have a baby with an older sibling, you can have him or her hide, then have the younger child cover his or her eyes while you count aloud, and partner up as you search the house for the hidden older player, and keep going until you’ve run out of ideas (or giggles). If it’s just you and one child, it’s probably easiest for him or her to hide, and you to seek, or, even better, for him or her to hide a specific toy, and then come back to watch you look for it.

Duck, duck, goose

If you need a refresher on this classic, you start by forming a circle and choosing who will be “it.” The person who is “it” walks around the circle, tapping everyone’s head and calling out “duck,” until finally choosing someone to be the “goose.” The “goose” then chases the one who is “it” around the circle and tries to tag that person before he or she is able to sit back in “goose’s” seat. If “it” successfully reaches the goose’s seat without being tagged, the goose is the new “it.” If the goose tags “it,” the goose keeps his spot in the circle. “It” must then either continue for another turn, or sit in the middle of the circle until another “it” is tagged. This one isn’t as easy to scale down to a two, or even three-person game, but if you and your little one are willing to get a little creative about designating dolls or stuffed animals as players, and then having them “run,” it’s definitely still possible.

Treasure hunt

What’s a hunt without a little incentive? Read out clues and have your little one try to follow the hint to find a piece of treasure. What you include is up to you: candy, coins for the piggy bank, or small toys. Get creative and encourage some thinking!

Red light, green light

Finding things, dancing, and now having to stop at red light after red light? It’s starting to sound like your child is just getting initiated into adult life. For this game you can cut out a large circle of green construction paper and a large circle of red construction paper. Explain to him or her to run to you when you’re holding up the green ‘light,’ and to stand still when you are holding the red ‘light.’ He or she might enjoy making car noises, too.

With any luck, these games will help your toddler need a solid nap or be completely ready to collapse into bed at the end of the day. These days might feel super long, but soon enough the sun will be out and you’ll be back in the fresh air!