How to Entertain a Toddler Without a Smartphone

The digital world has taken over our lives, and the biggest question for parents is how to avoid screen time. We’re just scratching the surface of what technology can offer us today, but children have always been ahead in terms of creativity and imagination.

This is a question that many parents are asking themselves. How do you keep your toddler entertained for hours without a smartphone? The answer is simple, but it does require some creativity. You can make homemade games with household items and create fun activities for the family to do together. Read more in detail here: how to keep your kid entertained for hours.

Entertaining toddler at restaurant without smartphone illustration.

We’ve chosen to reprint a vintage essay each Sunday to assist our younger readers discover some of the greatest, evergreen jewels from the past, with our archives currently totaling over 3,500 items. The original version of this story was published in October of 2015.

You’re in a public area, such as a restaurant or a doctor’s waiting room, and it’s taking longer than you anticipated to receive your meal or hear your name called. Your youngster is becoming more agitated. And irritable. I’m irritable. She’s moaning and on the verge of bursting into tears, and the people around you are giving her frustrated, disapproving glances.

You don’t have any toys or books with you, so it’s tempting to simply push your smartphone into your child’s chubby tiny hands to stop the tears from flowing.

However, you do not want to teach her that you should resort to your phone anytime you are upset or bored; you want her to grow up to be able to occupy herself without the need of a technical instrument. So you consider playing some pen and paper games with her, such as hangman or tic-tac-toe, but she’s preliterate and only knows strategy in terms of figuring out how to defecate so no one notices her.

What should I do?

You can quickly improvise some entertainments that will keep your young one pleased and interested until her chicken nuggets come if you have a few fully accoutrement-free games in your metaphorical back pocket. Here are 9 fun, brain-boosting activities to have on hand; some work better depending on age and ability, many can be adapted to fit your toddler’s cognitive level (which is about equivalent to that of a golden retriever), and others will be equally liked by preschoolers and up. Experiment to find what holds your child’s interest.

1. What is the name of the song?

Ask your youngster to identify and name a known song (“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Old McDonald,” etc.).

2. Is There Anything Missing?

This is a nice one to do at a restaurant table. Take a few items — a fork, spoon, and sugar packet, for example — and instruct your child to examine them carefully. Then cover the articles with a napkin and remove one without allowing him to see which one it is (lift the end of the napkin nearest you for cover as you withdraw the item). Remove the napkin entirely and ask your youngster to identify the missing piece.

3. Who am I, exactly?

Choose an animal, and then let your child ask you questions to figure out who you are. “Do you roar?” for example. “Do you reside in a chilly or hot climate?” “Are you furry?” says the narrator.

4. Get Your Hands On Something That Is…

Inquire whether your youngster is allowed to touch anything of the color X. “Are you able to touch anything red?” “Do you mind if I touch something blue?” He has the ability to touch everything within his reach, including the table, his clothing, and your clothes. You can make the game mobile if it’s somewhere where he can wander around without troubling other people.


5. Shape Search

Inquire whether your child notices anything in her surroundings that has a particular form. “Do you notice anything that looks like a circle?” “Do you notice anything that looks like a triangle?”

6. I Spy

Entertainment from the past That’s fine for a somewhat older child who can comprehend the concept behind the guessing game. “I spy something, and it’s ____,” you may remark after picking an item that both you and your child can see. Fill in the blank with a letter if your kid has a rudimentary comprehension of the alphabet and a limited vocabulary. “I see something that starts with the letter C,” says the narrator. It could help to say it out loud: “Ca-Ca-Ca.” Substitute those categories for the preliterate group that just knows their colors or forms. You may also include a description of the object’s characteristics: “I see something rough and scaly/smooth and sparkling,” says the narrator.

7. What Makes You Stand Out?

You’ll need a pencil and paper for this, but that shouldn’t be a problem since, like many great men throughout history, you carry a pocket notepad with you. Make a quadrant on a sheet of paper. Draw the same shapes/pictures/pattern in three squares. Draw something new on the fourth square. You could, for example, draw dogs in three of the squares and a cat in the fourth, or a triangle in three spaces and a diamond in the fourth. Point to the panel that is different from the others. Try completing 5 circles in three of the squares and 6 in the fourth, or alternative patterns like XXOOXX in three squares and XXOXX in the fourth, depending on how advanced your youngster is.

8. Easy Puzzles

Make simple puzzles for your toddler to solve. “I have four legs and am coated in fluffy white wool,” for example. “Who am I?” you may wonder. “I’m formed like a circle, with two hands and numbers all around me,” or “I’m shaped like a circle, with two hands, and numbers all around me.” “Who am I?” you may wonder.

Here you’ll discover a treasure trove of puzzles for kids of all ages.

9. Invisible in the Hand

Allow your child to see your empty hands. Then, in one of your hands, place an item, such as a coin, and shut both of your hands. Switch the thing back and forth between your hands, which are behind your back. Ask your youngster to determine which of your closed hands is holding the item by bringing them back in front of you.

The Everything Toddler Activities Book has a lot of great ideas.



“How to be a good dad to a toddler” is the first topic of the blog. It discusses how to entertain a toddler without a smartphone. Reference: how to be a good dad to a toddler.

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