How to entertain a 2 year old while babysitting

Let’s face it: sometimes it’s hard to know how to keep children entertained—especially young children. Every babysitter of a toddler, or two-year-olds, in particular, has reached the point in time where they are out of ideas for things to do, and the kids start going wild.

Apart from meeting their basic needs and keeping them safe, making sure they are active, both physically and mentally, is an important part of being a good babysitter.

Two-year-olds have a penchant for finding ways to entertain themselves. Sometimes it works out fine, but (and every parent can vouch for this) if things are quiet for too long, be prepared to find some form of destruction or some necessary intensive cleanup.

Instead of taking your chances, consider some of the following options for keeping them entertained while they are in your care. They may just spark some ideas of your own and make you a more experienced babysitter!

Set Up Outdoor Activities

Sometimes nothing beats getting your shoes on, going outside, and letting your toddler run hog wild to burn off some of their energy. When they have settled down a bit, keep these simple guided activities on your mind as ways to make outdoor time fun for the both of you:

Create a Scavenger Hunt

Yes, you could definitely go on a simple walk, and that’s fine, but you could also step it up a notch and do a scavenger hunt while you go on your walk around the neighborhood. If you’re going to do a scavenger hunt with a two-year-old, you need to keep it simple. Some ideas for scavenger hunts could include:

  • Finding shapes in nature: For this scavenger hunt, draw or print out some simple shapes such as a triangle, circle, oval, and square and let them see just how many of these shapes they can find in their surroundings. The interactive nature of this type of scavenger hunt will keep them entertained and help them learn. 
  • Finding different wildlife: Print or draw out pictures of things you see in nature, such as birds, leaves, flowers, and rocks and challenge them to find an example of each.

Play with Water

You do not even have to go to a swimming pool to be able to enjoy some water activities on a warm day. Try filling up a bucket with water, place it on the porch or patio, provide the toddler with some plastic cups, and let them pour and transfer water to their heart’s content while you stick around to keep an eye on them. 

Another way you could incorporate water play is with a color hunt and sorting game. You will need the following:

  • A kiddie pool or tub
  • Several other pots or buckets
  • A net or toy scoop
  • Different colored balls (ping pong balls are cheap and come in a variety of colors)

Fill the pool or tub with water, put the balls in the tub, and give the kiddo the scoop. This can either be a guided activity (asking them to place all the same colored balls in the same container), or you could let them decide how to organize and transfer the balls on their own.

Get Out the Sidewalk Chalk

Another great option for entertaining a two-year-old outdoors is sidewalk chalk. Give them a piece of chalk and let them draw whatever they want. Or, try one (or all) of these games:

Stomp the _____game

Choose a particular concept you want to teach or reinforce, such as colors, letters, numbers, or shapes. Draw them out on the sidewalk, and then call out the one you want them to stomp on. 

For example, if you are teaching numbers, you would call out “Stomp the number 5!” and wait for them to stomp or jump on the number 5. If they get tired, have them call out the number while you do the stomping. This is a great way to keep their bodies active and their minds engaged and gives them the chance to be in control for a little time, as well.

Walk the Line

Draw different length lines of all different shapes-straight, wiggly, zigzag-and have them walk on it. This will help them with their focus, coordination, balance and improve their gross motor skills. As they master the simpler lines, you can create more complex shapes to walk on, such as octagons, numbers, etc

Beanbag Toss

Draw a circle and give them a bean bag or a weighted object of some kind. Have them toss it inside the circle. As they get better and improve their skill, have them try throwing the beanbag into the circle from increasing distances.

This fun activity helps toddlers build their balance, coordination, and understand depth perception and how much force they need for bigger distances than smaller distances. 

Set Up Indoor Play Activities

Of course, playing outside for hours on end is not always possible when babysitting. Sometimes it’s too rainy, cold, or hot, or the baby sibling needs some nap time, and you have to stay inside with them. For these occasions, look into some of the following options for keeping a two-year-old entertained while indoors.

Create a Pots and Pans Drum Set

Most toddlers love noise and music. If you have the patience and nerves to handle a lot of loud noise (and don’t live in an apartment or townhouse), pull out the pots and pans from the cabinet, turn them over, and give your two-year-old a spoon or spatula to play the “drums” with. This is lots of fun!

To make it extra fun and encourage their curiosity and the sense of “testing things out” that is innate to children, give them different kinds of spoons and cooking utensils, so they can discover the different kinds of sounds each makes when it hits the pots and pans. 

Play a Quiet Game

If you are looking for a quiet activity where you can keep an eye on them but don’t have to be directly involved—and will keep their brains engaged and encourage their creativity—you can have them do any of the following: 

  • Match shapes. Draw and cut out different shapes, then cut them each in half. Have your two-year-old match up the shapes correctly. Make sure to use different colors for each shape.
  • Stack cups. Pull out those paper or plastic cups in the pantry and let them stack them, then knock them down. This is a great way to help them figure out balance, and is a mess that is easily and quickly cleaned.

Get Out the Arts and Crafts

Every babysitter needs to have crafting materials on hand. Keep a good supply of paper, pom-poms, washable paint, paint brushes, pipe cleaners, clay, and markers in your supply kit. For more hands-on and guided activities, try the following fun craft ideas:

  • Handprinting. Cover their hand in paint (you can do it or let them take over; just be aware of any mess that will occur and plan accordingly) and press it onto paper. Help them wash their hands and repeat the process with a bunch of different colors. This is a great way to improve a toddlers fine motor skills.
  • Egg carton caterpillar. Instead of throwing an empty egg carton away, let the kiddo color or paint the carton any way they like, then help them glue on pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and pom-poms.
  • Create sticker art. All you need are a bunch of stickers and some paper and let them go wild. 

Final Thoughts

Babysitting a two-year-old toddler can seem like an overwhelming task at first, but if you come in with a plan and some activities in your arsenal, you can keep them entertained successfully and have fun yourself as you get to know them and learn how their mind works.

Make sure to have outdoor options to help them stay active, such as scavenger hunts, water play, and sidewalk chalk, as well as indoor options such as crafts to keep them entertained. Keep in mind that you can use many things around the house to guide them in their play and keep their attention. Have lots of fun!

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