30 Activities to Do with Toddlers and Babies

As the weather warms up and schools and preschools let out for the summer, you might be looking for ideas to entertain your young children. Getting outside as much as possible is a great way to improve everyone’s mood, but it’s helpful to have indoor options when you want to avoid the heat. From backyard activities to visiting local museums, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the season and introduce kids to new experiences. 

This list of activities will help keep everybody in your family happy and engaged during the long summer days. Create an online sign up and invite friends to join the fun! You don’t need to spend much or go far to have a great time soaking up the sun and making fun memories together.

  1. Pool day- Nothing beats the heat like a day at the pool, playing some fun games and relaxing in the sun. If you don’t have access to a pool, consider purchasing an inflatable one for your yard. Just remember to always keep an eye on little ones near water. 
  2. Picnic - Before it gets too hot outside, make the most of milder days. Grab a blanket, some snacks or lunch, and some sunnies and head outside to find a nice place to sit. 
  3. Make slime or modeling clay - Kids love to play with slime and playdoh, but it can get expensive for parents. Try finding a recipe online to make your own and add interesting scents or textures to it.
  4. Play sink - If your children love to play in the sink, you can encourage this by either letting them help with dishes or finding them a play version of a sink. Some even have running pump faucets! Just grab a blanket and set them up in the backyard.
  5. Nature walk - Let your little ones explore to their heart’s content with a nature walk. You don’t have to go far - little kids can find entertainment in the simplest hikes. 
  6. Wildflower picking - If you find a patch of wildflowers, let your children pick a few to bring home for a lovely table center piece.
  7. Farm fun - Lots of farms have activities for young children like petting zoos and opportunities to help feed the animals. Share the names of animals with kids and practice the sounds they make. 
  8. Water table - If you have very young children, a water table can be so much fun! Kids love to pour things from cup to cup, and new walkers or crawlers will love being able to have something to lean against while playing. 
  9. Strawberry picking - Now is a great time of year to check out a local farm for strawberry picking. Look up some fun recipes and let them help you bake a yummy strawberry dessert. 
  10. Popsicle bath - If your children are dirty from a long day of playing outside, let them enjoy a popsicle in the bath. They’ll be motivated to get in the tub, and you don’t have to worry about them getting their hands sticky. Win win!
  11. Sprinkler fun - If you don’t have a pool, don’t sweat it! Your kids will enjoy playing in a sprinkler just as much!
  12. Cloud watching - If you’re looking for a relaxing activity that doesn’t require any prep work, consider cloud watching with your kids. See what shapes you can pick out and have them try to recreate them on paper.
  13. Splash pad - Kids love anything related to water, so check out a local splash pad to cool off when the weather heats up. You can even find your own splash pad for the backyard.
  14. Painting the fence - This activity works well if you have a wooden fence, but you can also do this on a concrete driveway. Hand out brushes and cups of water and let your children “paint the fence” with water.
  15. Sensory bin with ice - Parents know that children love sensory bins, which are boxes that children can reach into to touch and play with different textures. For example, sand, dirt, rice, or oatmeal. Add some ice cubes, lots of cups, and a ladle to make it extra fun for hot weather.
  16. Make chalk paint - Drawing in the driveway can be a lot of fun. You can also find recipes to turn your chalk into paint online, or just grind the chalk up and mix with water in a muffin tin.
  17. Paint the toys - If you have lots of plastic outdoor toys and washable paint, you have an instant outdoor activity. Let your kids paint the playhouse or toddler basketball goal. It’s easy to wash off and will keep them entertained for hours.
  18. Bubbles - Every parent knows that bubbles are always a popular option for kids of all ages. You can even find recipes online to make your own bubble mixture.
  19. Riding toy race - If your driveway is filled with tons of riding toys, set up a race for your children. You can add obstacles like tunnels or ramps for added fun and let them race hot wheels, scooters, bikes, or trikes.
  20. Children’s museum - If it’s simply too hot to be outside, you can beat the heat by exploring a local children’s museum or attraction. Ask your child about their favorite experiences after your visit and what they would like to try next time.
  21. Scavenger hunt – Even little ones can enjoy the adventure of a scavenger hunt! Make a list of simple things to look for on a walk or a trip to the park, like a dog, something in their favorite color, a cloud that looks like an animal and whatever else you dream up.
  22. Explore the library – Kids are never too young to grow their love of reading! Stay cool in the children’s section of your local library and choose some books to take home together. If your library offers story time, this is a great event to add to your summer schedule.
  23. Catch fireflies - The perfect summer night: kids catching fireflies and exploring the wonder of summer. Even though it might mean staying up late one night, it can be a special memory for your children.
  24. Pet store - if it’s too hot to play outside, consider going to your local pet store. They often have fish, lizards, small rodents, or even dogs and cats that your children can look at.
  25. Play place - Some restaurants have play places where children can play in an enclosed area while parents enjoy a meal. Even some breweries and restaurants have special designated areas for kids to run around.
  26. Baby painting - If you have a young baby, you can allow them to “paint” by putting some dabs of paint onto a sheet of paper. Then, put the paper into a plastic freezer baggie, and let your child smush the paint around through the bag.
  27. Camp in the backyard - If you don’t feel like dragging the children on a big trip to go camping, consider. Your kids will love sleeping outdoors, and you can easily head back inside in the middle of the night if everybody decides they’d rather be in their own bed!
  28. Obstacle course - Set up an obstacle course in your backyard by setting out things like hula hoops, cardboard boxes, jump rope, or kiddie pools. Adding a timer will make your kids even more excited to run the course.
  29. Water balloons - Your kids will love playing with water balloons on a hot day. Fill up several and see if they can toss back and forth. Or have fun chasing each other!
  30. Backyard construction site - if you have a truck-loving toddler, consider designating an area in your yard (maybe a corner or a sandbox) to be a “construction site.” Let them play with dump trucks, shovels, and excavators.
Summertime brings joy to young children because they can get outside to run, splash and play. But it can also be a tiring season for parents as the days stretch out longer and longer. Try to keep everybody entertained with some fun outdoor activities so that can help your kids burn off energy before bed! Just don’t forget your water and sunscreen!

Kelsey Caldwell is a realtor and freelance writer from Charlotte, NC. She and her husband are parents to two amazing kids, a golden-doodle, and a bearded dragon.