A friend asked how to keep a young toddler occupied in a waiting room. I figured I’d share it here as well.
Upside Down Baby
“Upside down baby” is a huge hit. Hold him on your lap straddling your waist. Hold his hands and open your knees and lower him until he’s hanging upside down. Bring him slowwwwly up and say “peekaboo!” Or you can say “uppppsiiiiiddown! Riiiighttttsideup!” Be careful that baby is not somehow licking the floor and that baby does not flip over upside down.
Wander the office and look at artwork. This works best if baby is sitting on your shoulders and you’re holding baby’s hands to keep baby from falling off of your shoulders. Otherwise baby will attempt to pull all of the artwork off of the walls. If you are not fast they will succeed.
Trot Trot to Boston
“Trot Trot to Boston” is fun. Start off with baby sitting on your knees facing you, with one leg off on the outside of each of your legs. Bounce your legs and say “trot trot to boston trot trot to lynne be careful when you get there.. you don’t fall in!” and then open your knees and baby “falls” into the space between while you’re holding onto baby’s hands. Be careful to not actually drop baby. *Note: Do not worry, this will not convert him to a Red Sox fan when he grows up, despite mentioning Boston. If you need to be cautious you can substitute any type of rhyming thing that involves the world opening up and swallowing him whole.
Sliding Face Changer
Play the “sliding face changer” game. Hold your hand in front of you so that the knuckles face out, your thumb faces up and your pinky finger faces down so that it can move up and down like a shutter. Move it up in front of your mouth- as it moves change the expression of your mouth. Move it over your eyes and change the expression of your eyes. As your hand comes up and baby can see all of your face you should have “Funny Face A”. Slide your hand down. As your hand obscures your eyes and then mouth change the expression. As your hand comes down below your chin you should have “Funny Face B”. You can add to this game by saying “Sad”.. “Angry”.. “Happy”.. “Sleepy”.. etc. Or you can make a sound before a specific face so that he can guess what face is going to come. Teaches pattern recognition. I’ve managed to make my daughter fascinated with patterns and she looks for them everywhere.
It looks like this:
Knee Bounce Patterns
Play the knee-bounce pattern game. Put him on your knees ala “trot trot to Boston”. Bounce your knees up and down and say “Bum bum bum”. Then bounce your left knee and say “Boom boom boom” then bounce your right knee and say “Bam Bam Bam”. Vary the patterns. Then start saying the pattern before the bounce. He’ll start trying to predict which bounce is coming. This works best if you make it very very suspenseful and make Obvious Eye Contact of “this is about to be funnnnn.” You can even raise one knee like you’re about to bounce to the wrong pattern and see what he does. My daughter dissolves into fits of laughter when I am about to “get it wrong” because she knows I’m going to do something silly just before I do the right pattern. *Note: This may have strange consequences as the child grows older. Do not blame me if he becomes obsessed to listening to old Beatles songs backwards to find secret messages.
Body Part Identification
Ask him where all of his body parts are. Hand, nose, fingers, toes, belly button.. If he doesn’t know them now is a fun time to teach him.
Ask him what different animals say. What does a cow, donkey, elephant, etc. say. If he doesn’t know them, now is a fun time to teach them.
Bring paper. Let him rip paper. Also bring a bag for the ripped paper. Toddlers LOVE to rip paper. Love love love love love.
Bring books. Unless he likes to throw books. Never bring anything that can be thrown unless you are willing to crawl under many things.
Make a fake wallet. Fill it with those shoppers discount cards everyone wants you to have, the library card that you have from when you were twelve and that you never got rid of, the expired ID that someone punched a hole in and that you can’t actually use anymore, the fake credit cards that everyone sends you that are not real credit cards, the Kohls discount cards, and various things that you have printed out and laminated to make chew-proof and rip-proof (See the previous paragraph where paper ripping is mentioned.) Fill it up with LOTS OF THINGS! Now it’s baby’s wallet. Or baby’s purse. The more child-friendly contraband stuff the better. DO NOT allow them to use your real purse or your real wallet for this purpose. This stuff gets thrown and you have to retrieve it. You do not want your actual license to somehow manage to disappear. Trust me on this.