Winter activities indoors for your baby and toddler

Sometimes it’s good to embrace the indoors. We’ve rustled up some creative ways to entertain your little ones, without having to step outside.

Whether you have a baby, a toddler or both, here are some ideas to create a stimulating environment in your own home. You might also stave off cabin fever.

First of all, things might get a little bit messy. Your baby builds their experience of the world through touch and smell, as well as the more obvious sight and sound.

“Encourage them to explore different materials to stimulate their senses. They’ll learn to notice the different feels, scents, textures and noises everyday items make.”

If you have a baby, embrace the mess with some sensory play. Some of our favourites, which will keep toddlers entertained too, include:

Water play

If you have a non-carpeted floor somewhere, a bit of water play will go a long way in keeping babies engaged. Put your washing-up bowl on the floor with a range of plastic cups, bottles or whatever you have handy. Just make sure you have a towel (or five) to hand.

Food for thought

Raid your cupboards and you’ll find a treasure trove of sensory items just waiting to be explored by teeny hands. Rice, lentils, different shapes of pasta or even breakfast cereal are all ideal.

Try filling a plastic bottle to create a makeshift rattle. If you’re feeling intrepid, experiment with food colourings for an added sensory element. Just make sure you’re nearby to prevent your little one choking on those tiny bits of food.

Get gloopy

‘Gloop’ has a unique texture, changing from a solid feel to a liquid feel as it’s handled. You might hate it, but your baby will probably love it.

Simply mix two cups of water, one of cornflour and a drop of food dye for a colour hit. Then watch the fun unfold. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t try and gobble the gloop though…

Not so messy messy-play

Want to give your baby the opportunity to play with paint, but can’t bear the thought of it in your own home? We have the ideal solution. Simply squirt a bit of washable paint into a resealable sandwich bag. Your baby can explore the texture and squeeze to their heart’s delight, and your soft furnishings will remain intact.

Things to make and do with a toddler

1. Build a den
Kids love a den. Chairs, blankets, sheets and sofa cushions. Use whatever furniture you have to create a fun space for your little one to crawl into. For extra delight, give them a torch to take inside.

2. The Great Toddler Bake Off
Mixing ingredients, rolling out dough, cutting different shapes and exploring creativity with icing. All perfect activities for a grey day. Keep the recipe simple and let the mess take centre stage.

3. Make a bird feeder
This easy bird feeder tutorial from the RSPB is a fun way to repurpose yoghurt pots (or similar) while using up some leftovers. Be sure to hang it in good view of a window so you can watch the feasting take place. Tweet, tweet.

4. Have an indoor picnic
Who says picnics are just for summer? Your baby or toddler will love the change of scenery, and the novelty of eating off a rug instead of the table.

5. Draft in reinforcements
It’s good for babies and toddlers to interact with others. You will probably be thankful for company too, so invite friends over. Encourage them to do a toy swap with you. The appeal of ‘someone else’s toys’ is huge.

If everyone really is climbing the walls, read our article on getting out and about if you’re brave.

Further information

Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.

We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.

You might find attending one of our Early Days groups helpful as they give you the opportunity to explore different approaches to important parenting issues with a qualified group leader and other new parents in your area. To find out when an NCT Nearly New Sale is happening near you, search here.

You can find out where your nearest libraries are here.

Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.