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Easy Activities that Encourage Independent Play for Toddlers

Is there any greater triumph as a parent, than discovering an activity that facilitates independent play for your toddlers? I think not.

If you have a golden child who happily plays independently with ease, then maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. (And maybe you should have a second kid so you can see what I mean… or maybe not.)

I happen to have both sides of this coin – my two kids are completely opposite in their demeanors and play style.

My youngest – a 2-year-old girl – has always been super independent. As a newborn, she fussed when we tried to snuggle her for too long (and would instantly quiet when we laid her down in her bassinet or on a playmat).

As a crawler, she relished the opportunity to explore new areas of the house when no one was looking. (“Where’s Evie?” was the most-spoken phrase in our house for the first 18 months of her life.)

And even now, as a full-fledged toddler, she’ll happily toodle all over our playroom from toy-to-toy, all by herself, chattering away to her stuffies and dolls all the while. She’s an absolute dream of independent toddler play.

My first-born, however – a 4-year-old boy – has always been a Stage-5 Clinger. He never wanted to be put down as a newborn, never wanted to explore by himself, and would happily live attached to me like a little baby kangaroo if he could.

So when I find an activity that keeps him entertained and focused without me… I relish it.

The Importance of Independent Play for Toddlers

I know there will come a day when I’ll be begging for my kids to let me hang out with them – but today is not that day.

Today is the day that I need like one hour of solitary play out of them. MINIMUM.

Especially now that my husband and I are both work from home parents, with both toddlers on the loose every day, I’m digging more than ever to find independent play activities to keep them out of my hair for extended bits of time.

I mean, it’s bad enough that I have to come up with meal ideas to feed these kids for every single meal of every single day, but I have to entertain them too?!

Apparently, yes, according to the toddler and the preschooler. And as much as I would love to just succumb to screen time all day every day, my mom-guilt just won’t allow me to.

{Even though I’m actually a proponent of screen time, and I firmly believe that educational shows can be highly beneficial to toddlers and preschoolers!}

But luckily, I’ve found a select few activities that seem to trick them into independent play (or at least, play with low parent involvement).

10 Easy Activities that Foster Independent Play for Toddlers and Preschoolers

What keeps your toddlers and preschoolers entertained with solitary play? Share them in the comments – we all need ideas!

{And P.S. – if you need some ideas for new toys for toddlers, check out our favorite STEM learning toys for toddlers!}