Holly - 2004-09-08 10:27:51
When my son was that age (he's 11 now) he loved going for walks or playing active games (like Ring a rosie etc..) dancing to some fun music, and kids that age are great mimic (sometimes when you wish they weren't) and a child size rag or something so they can "clean" with you, or throw clean socks in a laundry basket or other "helpful" activities. Videos and talking books can also give you a free moment or two though at 17 mos they don't sit still for long. Or you could check your local library or bookstore for children's story times. My son loved those as they often had activities to go with the stories. As she gets older she will eventually learn ways to play by herself and occupy herself, it just seems like forever but it really goes quite fast.
Short North Mama - 2004-09-08 10:43:01
Oh, I feel your pain! I swear playgroup just about saved my life. Somehow, after she got over the shyness of being in a big group of strangers, Miss M became totally self entertaining for about 2-3 hours. Nothing short of miraculous. My girl is about 19 months old and her current favorites are a shape sorter and puzzles but that is only within the past two weeks or so. I keep a couple of shoe boxes of junk (a baby food jar, beads, an empty water bottle with rocks in in, a fuzzy ball etc.) tucked away and only bring them out when she just becomes unbearable. The novelty keeps her busy for a while. A bag of plastic easter eggs has never failed to occupy her for at least a half hour. Also, if you don't already have them, buy some toys that light up and play music. I HATE that kind of plastic crap, but it kept her busy for hours on end. We have musical block and another musical toy that has a bunch of different colored blocks from the discovery channel story that she just LOVES (I can't find them in the online store to show you). We also have this: and This: which have been big hits despite the high annoyance factor. Your dumpling may be a little big to sit in an exersaucer, but she could probably stand next to it and play with all the the attached toys. You can usually find decent ones at a baby thrift store for not too much money. Again, high plastic crap factor though. At the babysitter's, Miss M loves to play in a pop up tent (something like this: She also love big empty boxes and sitting inside an empty cupboard in the kitchen. That running stage is hard. Sometimes I just took Miss M to the mall and let her go. The malls near us have big foam playgrounds so they were great for turning her loose. Toddlers are absolutely exhausting. Good Luck!
kelli - 2004-09-08 11:34:55
My sis taught at Montessori schools while getting her Ed degree. She does all sorts of cool things with my nephews based on those experiences. Believe it or not, a toddler can be entertained for easily 30 minutes with a pack of drinking straws and a 2 liter water bottle. Putting the straws in the bottle also helps with fine-motor skills. Check out the book "Montessori From the Start" for other ideas - this is the book my sis recommends.
C - 2004-09-09 07:33:58
I remember when my daughter was that age, she absolutely loved doing things she wasn't supposed to, like play in the kitchen cupboards. So we left one without a safety latch that had all the plastic bowls and a few saucepans (she loved banging them with a wooden spoon - it's really not that bad and it's really cute). She loved playing with water (yes, I know, it's messy, but that's why they love it) so we'd fill up a tub of water and give her little plastic cups to fill and empty. And the other hit was to visit a nearby farm (we live in the city, but it's only a 15 min drive to the 'farmlands') and see all the animals and copy their moos and baahs. She also really loved painting because it was more 'efficient' (and messy) than crayons, so we'd put big bristleboards on the floor on a plastic tarp (also can be used for the playing in water activity) and let her go loose with a big paintbrush (easier for little fingers) and finger paint (easier to wash off clothes etc.) - she didn't want to finger paint, by the way, and I'm told a lot of kids that age don't like the gooey substance on their fingers. I think part of it is to see what she might be interested in - it's not necessarily the toys, but the way you use them. She loved pretending to be on the phone, and we'd have long pretend conversations (neither of us understanding the other) using hair brushes or spoons as phones (or sometimes the real thing when she managed to get her hands on it). Then there are the nature walks, playing with leaves, pine cones, rocks (all toddlers love pebbles) sticks (watch the eyes), etc. I think you have to 'let go' a bit, not worry about the activity itself and whether it is messy or whether she's learning something, but just introduce a new situation and let her discover things - they are wonderfully creative starting around that age! I hope that helps.
Short North Mama - 2004-09-09 09:07:19
I just wanted to thank Kelli for the straw-bottle suggestion. I tried it last night and it kept my daughter occupied for no less than 45 minutes. Brilliant! I am off to order that Montessori book right now.
kelli - 2004-09-09 12:39:39
Short North Mama - no problem! I don't even have children (just nephews) but I still get a kick out of learning different activities like that. Kids are amazing in what they can do.

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