Janine Smith

Toddler Play

The world for a toddler is all about exploring, playing, making mess and making noise and using their new skills. And the attention span of pretty much any toddler can be short, so they may need to go from activity to activity – I remember all too well the fun (chaos) of going from playdoh to painting to softplay, to picking up every piece of grass, every stone and cigarette butt on a walk…

Many toddlers struggle being indoors a lot because it is just too confining for them and they want to play, climb and explore – they are not bothered by weather in the same way we are so, chances are, your toddler will not care if it is raining so it could be time to wrap them up in waterproofs and wellies to go puddle jumping and to play in the rain. If you have a garden, open that door and let them crack on – as you watch from the window with a cup of tea…

In any one day you could find yourself: cooking, painting, sticking and making, using playdoh, music and singing, building with lego and bricks, walking, going to the park, playing in water, dressing up, looking at books, drawing, talking, swimming, watching some TV. In there somewhere your toddler may find time to eat, sleep and strop. They can be a non-stop whirlwind of fun and discovery.
Despite how exhausting toddlers can be, I love them because they find EVERYTHING really,  really interesting! They are also alot of fun – so embrace it and let out your inner toddler – be silly, play, pretend to forget things, whisper, drop stuff, pretend to get things wrong, go searching for fairies in the park.

Getting out of the house can also be vital for your sanity – toddler groups, classes and softplay will give them the chance to play and explore and you the chance to chat with other mums.

Time-In Together

And then there’s the quiet, cuddle time together, this can be a great time to give your toddler your attention to chat, play, read a book, do a jigsaw, give praise and maybe use star charts to reinforce all the good stuff. The Happiest Toddler describes this beautifully as having Time-In together.

After a chaotic, fun day – with a splattering of stress and tantrums – there is nothing better than a calm and cuddly bedtime with snuggles, chat and books.



adult black and white books boy

Reading with your toddler – a quick guide

12-24 months – talk a lot about what you see on the pages, point to the pictures to help your toddler learn and be encouraged to join in

24-36 months – read the story and, if it’s a regular favourite book, don’t miss anything out because your toddler will know!

36-48 months – your toddler may like to repeat lines and may enjoy it if you mix things up and make it fun

This entry was posted in: Janine Smith


An experienced specialist in pregnancy, birth & early parenting, I have worked with parents since 2002. I am based in the North East so I regularly work with parents from Newcastle, Northumberland, Gateshead and across North Tyneside. Face-to-face sessions will continue with North East parents but digital courses and online sessions means I can work with parents everywhere.