I have often heard things like “I think my toddler is bored with the toys we have” or “nothing seems to keep his attention more than a few seconds”.
If you think your toddler is bored there are a few things to try BEFORE adding more toys to your house.
First, rotate the toys. In general, take a few toys away for a few days (or weeks) then get them back out. It’s like they are new and interesting all over again!
There are a many ways to do this. Grab a plastic bin and load it up. Hide it in a closet or the basement for a rainy day or choose a schedule, like every Monday or the first of the month, then get it back out again (while adding toys to the next big plastic bin to continue the rotation). For extra points, wrap up a few toys so they can be future “presents” on a rainy day. Sometimes the “rotation” might just be a location change. Move a toy that is usually in the playroom to your child’s bedroom and it may become an entirely new experience for them!
Secondly, simply add a new empty box or basket or other container to the mix of toys. Sometimes just the novelty of having a new “collection” box, sorting container can provide a new purpose.
The best idea is to find NEW ways to play with your current toys! You may need to demonstrate once or twice. Instead of always stacking the blocks, try interesting ways to knock them down. Instead of completing the puzzles, hide the puzzle pieces for a flashlight hide n seek game. Instead of pushing the cars and trains around aimlessly, try “parking” them in a line or washing them in a bucket of soapy water.
Need more ideas? Most of my play ideas come from toddlers teaching me how to play during years of practicing speech therapy (or with my own kids). These ideas don’t usually involve much preparation or extra “stuff” and generally minimal mess. I’m more interested in meaningful interaction when it comes to play. That’s how speech and language skills develop!
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For even more ideas, I offer play classes for toddlers and caregivers called “Let’s Play”, parent workshops called “Sounds to Sentences” for teaching play-based strategies for early communication, and I offer play sessions in your home! Just ask.