Ultimate List of “almost” FREE Toddler Activities

This one is for Jenn from Free in Parker FB page!  I hope you can find a few things to keep your kiddo busy!

I would like to just remind all parents that no matter what activity you plan for your toddler, he or she will only be interested in it for a short period of time. The rule of them is that their attention span in minutes equals that of their age in years.  So if your child is 1 year old, yep, you guessed it, they have the attention span of one minute!  EEEEKS!!!!  That doesn’t mean they won’t find certain activities totally fascinating and spend a half an hour or even more on them depending on their mood. If they are a bit sleepy and you give them a quiet activity like a wind-up musical toy with soft lights, for example, they may be content watching it and playing with it for quite a while.

If your playing WITH them and continue to keep engaging them, minute after minute, their attention span will grow.  So, they may get bored after one or two minutes but then you show them a new part of the toy (even the back side of the toy) and all of a sudden they are interested again for another couple of minutes and so on.

Sensory activities are HUGE for toddlers.  I’m sure you’ve figured that out by now while watching your little human touch and try to taste everything.

Once when I was working a night shift, my husband was home with our son who was a toddler at the time.  Timmy, our son, was like a ninja when it came to getting out of bed. Didn’t matter if we had a monitor or slept with one eye open, he could sneak out of any room without being detected.   He would then go on an exploration or hunt to see what he could get into.  It was a very difficult time for us.  We could either somehow lock him up (which we obviously didn’t do), never sleep (also not an option though some days and nights it felt like we didn’t get any) or baby proof and basically pad the whole house up so he wouldn’t get hurt.  Pillows and blankets on the floor by his crib, etc.  He was a climber to boot.  Baby gate, no problem, locked bedroom door (with us in there with him, no problem). Nothing would hold him back from his adventures (into the cabinets, my purse and makeup, closets, drawers, you name it!) He climbed out of his crib at a young age, pushed chairs up to the counter and climbed onto the counter. I am not kidding when I say that we found him on top of the fridge one day. It was where we kept his medicine.  He was sitting up there with the CHILD PROOF medicine bottle open chewing on something.  It was TERRIFYING.  Thank God he only took one baby aspirin because he had a “heg-ache.”  I was getting migraines at the time (wonder why?) so if I had one I would ask him to please be quiet because Mommy has a headache.  OMG, that child.  Anytime he didn’t want to do something, at that time, he would say to me “No.  I got heg-ache.”  He didn’t quite understand it but he knew enough to try to make it an excuse.

Well, (I really wish I had pictures of this), the day I was working the night shift I got a frantic call from my husband. I swear I thought he was in tears.  I thought the worst, “Timmy had fallen and hurt himself badly or got into something very dangerous somehow.”  I was in a panic the moment I heard his voice.  He said “Chrissie, it’s Timmy, I need you to come home.”  Talk about a mom’s worst nightmare!  It turned out that my husband had fallen asleep with Timmy but, of course, Timmy sneaked out of the bed and got into something. He found one of those large jars of Vaseline (of course it was way up high) in the cupboard and proceeded to smear it over his entire body. He put it on so thick that my husband had already given him 2 baths and couldn’t remove it.  That child was greasy for at least a week! (I did NOT come home from work for that but I did feel for him.  There’s nothing worse than having to deal with something like that when you’re dead tired).

Toddlers are naturally very inquisitive and want to try out everything!  Another time when we were at my in-laws, we are all together visiting in their sunroom.  Timmy was happily playing around right in front of us until one minute later we didn’t see him.  He couldn’t have left the room.  There was a pool table out there and some other hiding places so we were calling him and looking.  Low and behold we found, him sitting very quietly behind the bar with a bottle of whiskey, lid off, sitting beside him, taking a big ol swig from the bottle.  Didn’t even flinch when he tasted it.  Scary!

With sensory things in mind for that age, here are some ideas to keep that little one busy! Can’t keep them out of your sight though.  Not even for ONE minute.

Sidewalk chalk pack of chalk

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Chalkboard and chalk

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big crayons and a couple of large paper grocery bags cut open

boxes for moving house

a box! so many possibilities with this one.  its a car, plane, house, boat, secret hideout, cave, you name it!

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bubble wrap

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pots, pans and a wooden spoon

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Purchase here (no affiliation)

magnets on the fridge at their height

jell-o squares (make them a little on the firm side so they can be cut into squares).  Easy treat on a hot day. recipe

Popsicles to eat and play with (they are kids- they get to play with food at this age! As a matter of fact finger food are the BEST for toddlers)

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cheerios necklaces (careful here with the string- just need to not leave them alone with it, obviously) Good for fine motor skills though.

 Excellerations® Plush Pull & Play Tissue Box - 12 Scarves

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An empty box of kleenex filled with pieces of cloth they can pull out one at a time (then, when they aren’t looking, you put them all back in and say they missed some. heehee)

Baby dolls or action figures- play acting things out

Think: Gross motor activities- jumping across a line (tape that you’ve taped to the floor), baby trikes, dancing to kids songs (I’ll include my favorite links in a separate post), running around at the park, playing catch, chasing something like a wind up car.

6 ideas for toddler bath time

when in doubt, give them a bath with bath toys.  That usually tires them out too.

(Speaking of this, babies and toddlers will not sleep unless they are exhausted.  Had I known this when I was a young mom, perhaps Timmy would not have done so much exploring.  Live and learn.  I wasn’t  peds nurse then, just a new mom trying to figure it all out).

This is to be continued.  I have so many more ideas.  These are just the FEW that came to my head without looking at Pinterest or anything else.  Please let me know what you’ve tried and if this helps in any way!

Please check back soon because there are A LOT more posts to come!

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Summer is upon us!

If you’re in the US, you know that summer is upon us. The kids are out of school or soon will be, the weather is getting hotter (depending on where you live, of course) and your thinking to yourself, “How will I keep these kids occupied for the WHOLE summer?”

Fear not!!!!!

I am dedicating a big part of this blog to helping you with just that! I’ll have lots of activity ideas in one place. Why would you not go to Pinterest, you may ask yourself, for these ideas. Well, you can. In fact, I’ll be getting lots of ideas from there as well. However, I’m going to add some ideas to these activities to make sure they are safer for special needs kiddos, a little more educational, provide sensory stimulation and cost very little money. I’ll do the research for you and even try out a lot of the projects myself. No Pinterest FAILS here. I’ll be sure to post things that are doable with easy to fairly easy cleanup and let you know about how much time it takes, cost of project and overall fun factor.

I’ll rate them like this:

Cost in: supplies

Cost in: time

Cost in: cleanup

Cost in: sanity

I might post some fails too just so you can see what not to do!

Follow me and check back often for summer ideas to keep those kids busy!

Survey SAYS!

Dear Parents of medically complex kids,

I need your help!

Please take a few moments to fill out this survey so that we can better understand the needs of parents like you!

You’ll need to print it out, fill it out then send back to me via email at lambieandbellybutton@gmail.com

(If there is an easier way please let me know. I’d be happy to make this as easy as possible for you!)

Your answers will remain anonymous and 100% confidential. Your email address will not be used for any purpose unrelated to this survey. The information gathered is to help better assist future families of newly diagnosed medically complex babies.

I sincerely thank you!

Be well!

Survey

Here is what the survey looks like if you want to see it before opening the link to download.

Hi. My name is Chris Eich, RN. In an attempt to make things easier for parents and families with medically complex children, I have created this survey. It is my hope to provide better service to parents, their unique and precious child and his or her siblings, before discharge of the hospital, during the transition from hospital to home and for as long as they need help. I sincerely appreciate your taking time out of your busy schedule to honestly and openly fill out this survey. Though it won’t change whatever your experience has been, it could impact future families. It is my goal and mission to fill in the gaps between hospitals and home health care the best I can. I would like to perhaps provide assistance in ways that hospitals, home health and insurance can’t cover.

Keep in mind that these questions are an effort to find out more of where you need/needed help and assistance. Feel free to write in the margins, write on the back and add as much information as you’d like. Skip any questions you don’t feel comfortable answering. Feel free to remain anonymous.

Did you feel supported by hospital staff when your child was first diagnosed?

Were all of your questions answered in a caring manner?

Was there anything the staff could have done differently to help you with your emotional needs?

Can you explain how you felt when you were being educated about the needs your child would have and what his or her conditions would mean for their future? (for example: overwhelmed, confused, scared, difficulty connecting with your child, feeling alone, depressed, angry, not knowing who to turn to for answers, content in knowing he or she is well taken care of, faithful that everything will be ok, or all of the above!)

What kind of support did you have? (family, friends, church/mosque/temple, hospital staff support or support groups)?

Did you feel well educated and confident in caring for your child at the time of discharge? Did you still feel confident once you got home?

If not, what areas did you feel you could have used more education/hands on experience with?

Was your home health company successful in helping you on the day your child came home as far as explaining how home health works, providing phone numbers and helping you set up your child’s room (as far as emergency equipment and basic medical supplies)?

If not, where were they lacking?

Were you given hospital resources and did you use them? What did you use them for?

How has your experience been with your home health company overall? (excellent, good, fair, poor, very poor)?

What has been the biggest obstacles you have had with home health? (staffing, communication, lack of resources, nurse competence, professionalism, etc)?

Please place a check mark on the line for the following items for which you wish you could have had help (or further help) with. Please also circle whether you did or did not receive any help at all with these items (Even if you received help you could indicate that you needed more help for any issue). If you don’t think it applies please indicate with n/a

  1. ________Organizing my child’s room (received help/did not receive help)
  2. ________Organizing all the paperwork (received help/did not receive help)
  3. ________Help with household chores (received help/did not receive help)
  4. ________Explaining all of my options as far as medical decisions regarding my child (received /did not receive)
  5. ________Having a family member help me with some of the appointments so I didn’t have to take so much time off of work (received/did not receive)
  6. ________Bringing my family some meals in the early days (received/did not receive)
  7. ________Having a non-biased counselor to help me with emotions and stress (received/did not receive)
  8. ________Respite care, specifically so I could take a break/rest (received/did not receive)
  9. ________Respite so my partner and I could have a date (received/did not receive)
  10. ________Giving my family privacy when we needed it (received/did not receive)
  11. ________Feeling respected and in power over my child’s well-being and all decisions related to his or her aspects of care. (received/did not receive)
  12. ________Couples’ counseling (received/did not receive)
  13. ________Setting up therapies and doctor appointments (receive/did not receive)
  14. ________Support and education for siblings (received/did not receive)
  15. ________Counseling for siblings (received/did not receive)
  16. ________Help in understanding insurance and what equipment or services my child qualified for (received/not received)
  17. ________Education about how to work new equipment (received/not received)
  18. ________Ongoing education about medical diagnoses, treatments and new issues that came up (received/not received)
  19. ________Organizing and assisting me in meeting other parents in a similar situation (received/did not receive)
  20. ________Organizing and helping with play dates for my child on well days (received/did not receive)
  21. ________Music Therapy for my child (received/did not receive)
  22. ________Massage Therapy for my child (received/did not receive)
  23. ________Other alternative therapies for my child ___________________(received/did not receive.
  24. ________Monetary assistance for bills (received/did not receive)
  25. ________Groceries (received/did not receive)
  26. ________Clothing for my child (or their siblings) (received/did not receive)
  27. ________Personal care items for parents (received/did not receive)
  28. ________Toys, sensory items, blankies, pacifiers, bottles, etc. (received/not received)

What else did you receive help with or did not receive help with that you would like to share?

________

________

________

Is there anything else you can share that would better help me to assist families who are new to having a medically complicated child? Perhaps some things they need/could use help with but don’t even realize they need? (Again, I sincerely thank you for your time. I wish you and your family good health and many happy days ahead. I want to acknowledge your strength, courage and dedication to your family. You are amazing and an inspiration to me!