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Being on modified bed rest has been hard on me and especially hard on my son. He is used to going to the park often, taking trips to the zoo or museums, going to his activities (like swim class and Kindermusik), and he is used to mommy being active with him and participating in his play. I have been forced to find ways to still interact and play with him that doesn’t involve a lot of movement. It hasn’t been easy and it is still very much a work in progress, but I have found things that can keep a toddler busy and we can do together that captures his attention and doesn’t lead to me chasing him around the house. Here are a few things of the things we’ve been doing.
My son loves working on jigsaw puzzles and not to brag or anything, but I think he’s pretty good at them too – for a 2-year-old. I have a few that I keep on hand.
This one by Mudpuppy is his favorite because of the train theme. We use this one almost daily and he loves building it. We also took this one on the cruise with us for when we were in our stateroom and he needed something to do. It’s very portable since it comes in its own little pouch, and the pieces are big, which is perfect for the little ones. It’s also only a 12 piece puzzle so it is not very confusing for them either.
This is another jigsaw puzzle we have. The pieces are smaller and each one is a 24-piece puzzle instead of a 12 piece, so it takes a bit more time. This was actually given to us as a gift for his first birthday and just recently I broke it out and let him start playing with it and he loves it! It’s 4 puzzles, so it’ll keep his attention occupied for some time.
This one is a bit harder for me to participate with since it is a floor puzzle and getting up and down off the floor is not easy right now, but he loves playing with it. He doesn’t know his alphabet yet so I use it for letter identification (almost like using flash cards but more fun) and I will hand him the pieces in order so that he can build it. This is a huge puzzle because it’s 10-feet long. If we build it in his room, we have to do it in rows because he’s room is 10 feet wide, but in a common area like our family room, it works great. Either way, this serves two duties: it’s educational and helps him learn his letters while we’re interacting and playing together.
My son loves playing with Play-Doh, and the fun factory just offers so much to play with. There are a ton of little cookie cutter pieces, and the main push down portion that creates spaghetti like Play-Doh is a blast for him. This keeps him going for half an hour, which is about as long as his attention span can take. I do have to participate with him, so I put it on the coffee table that we have and stay on the sofa. For some reason, he doesn’t understand yet that he can make it into a ball or tear it apart, I’m not sure why. He’ll take the giant lump of Play-Doh and try to shove it down the shoot to do the spaghetti doh. I let him play with it however he likes, but I also try to show him different sensory ways that he can play with it (break it apart, make balls, flatten, etc.).
Arts & Crafts
I have this awesome easel from IKEA and it is honestly the best for the price. It’s a very simple easel that has a chalkboard on one side and a dry-erase board on the other side. It also has a bar to feed their roll of drawing paper through it. I bring the paper up the middle and drape it down either of the sides so that my son can draw to his hearts content. Normally I’ll bring it down on the side that has the chalk and paint holder, because you can swing it to whichever side you want, but it’s not so easy to do that, so I normally just leave it on one side. From here, I’ll give him either fingerpaints or watercolors (all washable of course) so that he can get as creative as he wants. I also have the arts and craft “bib” from Ikea that is basically like a long sleeved bib with a catch for budding artists to have fun without worrying about them messing up their clothes, or in my case, his cloth diapers.
I have a few of these Color Wonder coloring books laying around. My son is not a big fan of sitting and coloring, so it’s not something that he’ll do for any extended period of time, but I do still try to get him involved in the coloring because it also helps teach him how to manage a marker/pen/pencil; a skill he’ll need once he starts school. I’m by no means an expert on trying to teach him anything. As a matter of fact, I’m looking at various resources about how to get him started in a homeschool environment for when he turns 3 because I don’t have the first clue of where to even start, but I do try to teach him how to hold a marker, even though he fights me on it. I do try to teach him his numbers, letters, and colors, and I can proudly say he has his basic shapes down. So everything I try to get him for “playing” also has an educational component to it.
Stackers, Shape Sorters, Etc.
I also have various shape sorters and stackers for my son that we regularly play with and he loves. I got him this Fisher Price one when he turned 1 and I played with him with it and tried to show him the different shapes and how it works. At 2.5, he still plays with it and enjoys dumping the shapes on the floor and putting them in their slots. This doesn’t last long because he knows his shapes really well at this point, but for a younger child, it will be fun.
I was given this one recently as part of the Baby Guy Box and I think it’s great because it works on so many different things at the same time. It has more complicated shapes. It has various colors. We can work on numbers, and when he’s older, we can work on learning the clock as well. Right now he just recognizes what a clock is and that it has numbers, but he doesn’t understand that it tells time or even that that is what it’s used for. I’ll bring this one out and we’ll work on his numbers (which he is starting to recognize, and in counting order) and I’ll have him put them in their holes to work on the shapes as well.
This Melissa and Doug Geometric Stacker we use as well more to help him learn the concept of small, big and bigger, and we can also work on colors with him. Colors have been an issue because he is not easily recognizing them. For some reason, everything is green. You will show him a color and ask him what color it is and no matter the color, it’s green. Of course, we correct with the proper color, but it’s a process.
We will also play with things like his alphabet blocks or his Mega Blocks, basically any kind of “building” activity. With the alphabet blocks, he likes to stack them in a tower and watch it fall. He likes to do the same with his Mega Blocks, but they don’t fall as easy. He’ll build those as tall as they can stand before toppling over. With the alphabet blocks, we get to do letter recognition and put it together with images as well (A is for apple), so he can start to understand letters and words.
At last resort, I will break out his iPad that we use either for educational apps, or it also has some games on it that he likes to play, like Lego Trains (he has a thing for trains). We’ll watch certain shows on it that may not be on OnDemand that he enjoys and we’ll watch together. At this point, while you’re on bed rest, it’s all about catching his attention and keeping it for a long time without him asking you to get up every 5 minutes for a different reason.
I also have him play on his own and let him flutter from toy to toy as he wants, depending on what will keep his attention. We have a train table for him that he likes to build the tracks and play on for some time as well, but this one can be challenging because if he can’t figure out the right pattern, he’ll get frustrated and ask me to help him, so I try to leave a pattern up for him that works and that way he can just zoom the trains around on the track.
Of course, each child is different, and these are the various things that are working so far for me with my 2.5-year-old. I am also looking for various other things that we can do together that doesn’t take a whole lot of effort on my part, and also keeps with my fun and educational theme. I’m thinking dot markers may also work for a bit with him. I think he may enjoy that.
Do you have any activities your child likes to do (that I have not mentioned) that would work for someone on modified or even complete bedrest?
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