19 of the Best Summer At-Home Activities for Babies and Toddlers

The summer months often bring an expectation of grand adventures and elaborate outings, but the reality for many families, especially those with infants and toddlers, is that most days are spent closer to home. 

While it's tempting to feel the pressure for constant entertainment and making the most of summer, endless fun for your little one can be found right under your roof or around your neighborhood with help from items you already have. Longer days offer ample opportunities to unleash creativity, explore new interests, spend time outside, create new experiences for your child, and make memories.

There are many activities you can do at home with the household items you most likely already have. With just a little creativity, you can embrace summertime with your child and enjoy fun and stimulating activities with your kiddo. 

Summer Activities For Babies

  • Homemade Puppet Storytime: Stay in the air conditioning for storytime. Raid your sock drawer or craft a collection of simple puppets from paper bags or cardboard boxes. Decorate them with markers and have the puppet “read” a summer-themed book to your baby. 
  • Summer Baby Spa: Turn bath time into a sensory exploration. Add floating toys. Turn on music that has a summery theme, play peek-a-boo, and choose a baby soap and lotion that has a light tropical scent. Follow up with a massage to bond with your babe.
  • Miniature Pool Time for Mini Beach Bums: Is there anything cuter than baby-sized sunglasses? Beat the heat with a small inflatable pool in your backyard and take your baby to the “beach.” Dip their toes into the cool water and splash away!
  • Outdoor Tummy Time: Find a cool shady spot under a tree and spend tummy time outdoors. Whether you’re in your own backyard or at the local park, spread out on a large blanket with books and baby-safe toys. 
  • Head to the Library: Your child is never too young to visit the library! Most community libraries ramp up their offerings while school is out. Check your local branch to see if they have baby and toddler summer activities for parents or caregivers, like a music group, storytime, playgroup, or movement classes.
  • Pick a Card: Running out of ideas of what to do next with your little one? Use Happy Little People Co. activity cards for a literal stack of ideas.
  • Summer Snack Time: Summer brings us so many amazing fruits and veggies! Introduce in-season produce to your baby (with regard to your doctor’s recommendations, of course). Apricots, mangoes, watermelon, grapes, and peaches are all nutritious, cool, and fresh.
  • Freeze Time: Using baby safe paint, make a handprint and footprint keepsake for yourself or as a gift. Your baby’s tiny hands and feet could be memorialized on a t-shirt, cardstock, apron,  

Summer Activities for Toddlers

  • Indoor Arts and Crafts Show: Hang up symbols of summer around your child’s art area – like a photo of flowers from a magazine, a picture of a theme park from the newspaper, and a family swimming from a print catalog. With the art supplies you already have, like washable paints, crayons, markers, and construction paper, encourage your kid to create art inspired by the images they see. Then hang up the finished products to decorate their play area. 
  • Playdough Fun: Read a summer-themed book with your child and discuss what they see in the illustrations that are symbols of summer. For example, they might see bugs, the sun, flowers, and the beach. Set up a playdough station with various colors and tools like cookie cutters, rolling pins, and playdough stamps. Encourage your child to make their own summer scene. This sensory activity encourages creativity, fine motor development, and imaginative play.
  • “Fishing Fun” in the Tub: Fill a storage bin or small inflatable pool with water and add plastic fish or bath toys. Provide a small net, sieve, or colander and let your little one go “fishing.” This promotes hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and imaginative play.
  • Indoor Obstacle Course: Use pillows, blankets, chairs, and other safe household items to create an indoor obstacle course for your kiddo to explore. Encourage your child to crawl, climb, and navigate the course, promoting gross motor development and providing a fun and challenging afternoon.
  • Balloon Bonanza: Blow up a few balloons and let the fun begin! Kick them, bat them with your hand, or try to keep them from touching the ground. This promotes gross motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and provides a simple yet engaging activity.
  • Nature Soup: Gather leaves, flowers, and other safe, natural materials from your backyard or a local park. Set up a pot and pretend to "cook" a big pot of "nature soup." This encourages imaginative play, connection to nature, and exploration of different textures and shapes.
  • Outdoor Dance Party: Crank up some upbeat music from your phone or portable speaker and have a dance party outdoors! Turn it into a learning experience by incorporating action songs, dance freeze games, or mimicking different animals' movements. This promotes physical activity, encourages creativity, and fosters bonding through shared laughter and silly moments. Bonus points for dressing your child in their swimsuit and heading to the kiddie pool to cool off after.
  • Ice Play: Fill small containers with water and freeze them overnight. The next day, fill a plastic tub with watersafe toys and the ice. Encourage them to play, while observing how the ice melts, to fosters curiosity, introduce scientific concepts, and provide a visual representation of cause and effect. Plus, it’ll help keep your kid cool!
  • Outdoor Toy Sorting: Help your child identify shapes and colors by gathering your outdoor toys, spreading them out, and challenging your child to sort them based on whatever attribute you call out. For example, ask your child to find all the balls or collect all the red items.
  • Nature Scavenger Hunt: Take a nature walk around your neighborhood or a nearby park. Create a simple scavenger hunt list with items like leaves,  flowers, rocks, and insects. Rather than collecting the items and taking them home, take a photo of your child with each thing they find. 
  • Be a Tourist in Your Town: Have you ever been to your local children’s museum, zoo, or aquarium? Chances are, they have summer toddler activities all teed up for you! Check ahead for age-appropriate programming and make a day of it! Your toddler will love seeing all the new sights and sounds!

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