20 Parent Toddler Date Ideas
Ideas on how you can spend quality, one-to-one time with your toddler.
Toddler time is precious, they don’t stay toddlers for long! Before you know it, they’re in nursery, primary school, secondary school, then you’re trying to get them to move out! ‘Trying’ being the operative word. That’s why I’ve put together 20 Parent Toddler Date Ideas for inspiration.
It’s important to make the most of your time with your little one while they’re small. Spending quality, one-to-one time with your child, whatever the activity, is what builds a trusting bond from early on that carries on into their life as they grow.
Don’t be disheartened if there are tears or tantrums, that’s all part of being a toddler parent. If you think your activity has gone well but it ends in tears, that doesn’t mean they haven’t enjoyed it! Sometimes they can enjoy an activity so much that they get over tired and don’t know what to do with themselves, so don’t take it personally!
The three main ingredients to a one-to-one toddler date are:
If you give your little person these 3 things, it doesn’t really matter what else you do! But here are 20 Parent Toddler Date Ideas to put these three things together.
1. Go on a walk together
Toddlers love going out for walks. Their little minds are designed to explore, so taking in the surroundings and familiarising them with where they live helps with their development. The fresh air is a bonus and the exercise helps to further their physical development and gain confidence with walking and being on their feet.
Don’t take it badly if they decide to sit down half way and don’t want to walk any further. Taking a short walk out is adequate for the toddler but means they are more likely to walk the whole way without getting tired. Their little legs have to work harder than ours as their steps are so tiny, so they may get tired and have to be carried the way back, but even so, its still beneficial!
2. Have a picnic
Lunch at the table or in a high chair can be a bit boring, but eating the same food outside makes it so much more fun! You can make it extra special by making their favourite sandwiches and adding some snacks that they love, but there’s no need to do a special shop if you’re looking for ideas that are cost free. Just simply having lunch outside is enough to make it exciting!
Take your picnic to the local playing fields, or any other public scenic area where your child is safe to run around, or simply set up camp in the garden!
3. Go for a hot chocolate
For some unknown reason, children like to pretend they’re grown up, little do they realise that once they’re adults, they’ll wish they could go back to being children! But nevertheless, they like to copy us, and be treated like an adult. Going on a coffee date with your toddler will make them feel level with you, and feel important and all grown up. Look for a local cafe that serves babyccinos (baby friendly cappuccinos) or hot chocolate with marshmallows! Lots of cafes these days have a drinks menu for children, so have a little look around, pick your place and go on your date!
4. Go to soft play
Soft play areas are places where you find lots of parents like to take their children and let them roam free, giving them time to sit and have a brew while the child busies themselves. However, toddlers LOVE having their parent get involved in soft play adventures! It’s their opportunity to show you the ropes! Lots of places have off-peak deals on while the schools are on, which is the perfect time to take your toddler, while the bigger kids are at school and the little ones get to rule the roost!
Swimming is such a fun thing to do, for both adults and children, and getting your toddler used to water at an early age is so beneficial! Having a fear of water can really affect day to day life, so allowing your little one to build confidence in the water is the first step to learning how to swim – a skill that is essential in life, you never know when you will need it! It’s also a great way to bond and for your child to really build up his/her trust in you.
6. Play at the park
The local play park is the cheapest way to entertain your toddler! It doesn’t cost you a penny! Surely everywhere has a local park for children, so head round there and chase your little one around all the different apparatus! They will love it.
7. Have a carpet picnic
This is one for a rainy day. Clear a large space in the living room and lay a blanket down on the floor, put the kids channel on the tv, and place your littlest monkeys favourite snacks and sandwiches with some treats on paper plates on the blanket. Don’t forget to sit and have your lunch on the floor too! I usually find that the addition of a colouring book or 2 and some pencils are always a good idea.
8. Do some baking
If there’s one thing that toddlers enjoy, it’s getting messy! My son LOVES helping me bake, and by helping I mean he gets the mixing bowl and spatula after my cakes in to bake and gets to eat what’s left! I swear he gets more of it on his face and clothes than he does in his mouth, and the rest ends up on the floor.
Why not make some shortbread biscuits and give your toddler some plastic cutters in animal shapes for them to make their own! Click here to read my shortbread fun bites recipe.
9. Play dress up
As I mentioned earlier, children love to feel grown up. By being grown up, they get to make their own decisions, and they LOVE that! Give them a big decision that they don’t normally get to make, by asking them to decide what clothes they and you will wear! Stay in the outfits all day and play games with your child. If that means dressing up as a unicorn or a mermaid, then so-be-it!
10. Take them to see some animals
Do you have any local farms near you or fields with animals in? We have a field nearby with some horses in, and my boy loves going on a little walk to see the horses. As a former horse owner, I know how irritating it is when general public feed the animals, so that’s maybe not a good idea, however, going up to the gate to say hello to the animals is a real treat for little ones! You can put your ‘what-sound-does-this-animal-make?’ Game into practice! And it’s a great way to help with first animal words. Stay safe by staying on the other side of the wall.
11. Visit the pet shop
Pet shops are like mini zoos that are free to look around! Go to your local pet shop and show your toddler the bunny rabbits, guinea pigs, fish and more. Teach them what each animal is… but don’t be surprised when they come back to you asking if they can take one home!
12. Feed the ducks
We’ve all done this at some point in our lives, right?! If yes, you don’t need me to explain why your toddler will enjoy this. If no, never mind the toddler, you need to do this yourself. You can’t go through life having never fed bread to the ducks!
13. Go to Vue Cinema mini mornings
Vue cinema have specific times where they show films for little ones! You don’t have to feel bad if your toddler starts shuffling or making noise, because he or she won’t be the only one! They also turn the sound down a little so that the kids don’t find it too overwhelming. You could even do this as a chill out activity to follow another energetic one, but you’d better double check the times first.
14. Have a mini disco at home
I got this idea from our little holiday to Butlins, Skegness earlier in the year. They do a 15 minute tots disco where they play songs like ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ and ‘Insy winsy spider’. My boy loved it so much that we now have our own tots disco at home! We play a number of children’s songs and have a dance together in the living room, it’s so much fun!
15. Read a story
With all the technology such as TV and tablet etc, unfortunately children don’t tend to read or have stories read to them as often as kids used to. However, this makes it all the more fun and exciting for them because it’s something different. Reading is great for developing language and imagination in toddlers.
Here in the North East, we have a little project going. Your child picks a book that they would like to give away, and it gets put in a waterproof packet with a letter saying something along the lines of, ‘congratulations! You’ve found a book! You can take it home, read it and re-hide it for someone else when you’re finished!’ You then upload a photograph of the child with the found book to a Facebook group listed on the letter so that the person who hid it can see that it’s been found. This fantastic idea has brought so much happiness to children across the North East, and brought the magic back to reading! Why not get involved yourself, or start your own in your area!
16. Visit a local beach
Do you live near a beach? Take a bucket and spade and go building sandcastles! It gives your little one a chance to be free to run around to release some energy, and playing in the sand is a great sensory activity to help develop your child’s mind and imagination. Anyway, who doesn’t love the beach?
17. Make a den
I swear every adult gets excited about this activity when they’re expecting their first child. We all loved making dens as children and know how exciting it will be for our own kids when they’re old enough to enjoy it! Well toddlers go mad for it! Build a den in the living area or in their bedroom or playroom, and BOTH of you will love it. I find that a good way to do it, is to take the bedding from upstairs and drape it over the furniture and putting cushions underneath, but you can be as creative as you like!
18. Do some painting
Did I mention toddlers love getting messy? This is another way! They love to express themselves and make as much mess as possible, the more colour the better! Investing in some waterproof tablecloths; one for the table and one for the floor, makes this activity a lot more stress-free! Adding things like some cotton wool balls, cut up sponges, chopped raw potatoes and such like can make it a lot more interesting than just a paintbrush!
If the weathers nice, you could get out in the garden, get some large pieces of card, or an unfolded cardboard box, and some bottles of paint, and let your toddler loose in some old clothes or just a nappy. They can make footprints and hand prints all over the cardboard and be as creative as their little minds will allow!
Toddlers however, have a habit of wanting to eat and drink everything (or is it just mine?!), so don’t forget to keep a sharp eye on what they’re up to.
19. Have a tea party
Have you ever seen your kiddy have a tea party with his/her teddy bears? No? Well give them the idea then! All you need is a little tea set, and either a little table & chairs or some cushions. Set up a little seating area where their favourite teddies all get a place, and set out a tea set. Invite your toddler to the party and sit sipping pretend drinks from plastic cups whilst nattering with your child and his/her teddy friends!
20. Build something out of Lego
Is it just my kid who’s a Lego maniac?! He will sit and build with his Lego for ages! Get involved and help him/her build something amazing! Don’t forget to let them lead, after all, you might not know what you’re building, but your toddler does! He/she just needs that helping hand.