Wondering what to do when babysitting? Here are some suggestions for babysitter activities and games for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, both indoors and outdoors. It’s a great list to print and share with parents and babysitters, and also to keep in your own back pocket so you don’t find yourself at a loss when entertaining the kids.
Babysitter Activities for Infants:
Playing and reading to children, including those less than a year old, is critical to their social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. For infants, keep it simple by focusing on picture books, songs and old favorites like “Peek-A-Boo.” Other babysitter activities for infants for you to try:
- Sing simple, entertaining songs like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”
- Play “This Little Piggy,” or “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”
- Encourage babies to grab and touch soft toys or objects, letting younger babies simply follow the toy with their eyes.
- Create a simple form of “Hide and Seek,” catering to the baby’s age.
- Babies of all ages love to be pushed in an infant swing, especially one that’s outside where they can engage all of their senses.
Toddler Games and Activities:
Imaginations begin to blossom between one and two years of age. Little ones begin to engage in what’s called functional play, meaning they like repetitive actions like filling and emptying containers, throwing, catching, and simply moving objects from one place to another. Toddlers typically start to explore symbolic play, such as pretending a banana is a telephone and using it to call Grandma, when they are about two years old. Try some of these toddler games that are sure to keep their attention:
- Build a slide or tunnel for toy cars to race down and under, using a piece of cardboard atop stacks of books.
- Create a fort by draping blankets over chairs and other furniture, and pretend it is your house, your boat, your plane…the opportunities are endless.
- Entertain toddlers by putting on an impromptu puppet show with their dolls or sock puppets.
- Toddlers love to push and pull things. Take a toy lawnmower, wagon or baby stroller outside, and let them “mow the lawn” or take their baby dolls for a walk.
- Bring a bottle of bubbles to blow and chase outside. Toddlers love to chase and be chased!
Games and Babysitter Activities for Preschoolers:
Simple art and math activities are great for the two-to-four-year-old set. Babysitters: Score big points with parents by bringing supplies to make a few of these fun, easy to create projects and activities:
- Create chalk drawings and practice letters. Art activities for preschools are perfect for outside – bring a bucket of colored chalk, and plop down on the nearest sidewalk to scribble, have kids copy letters you write, or trace objects like the chalk container, your keys, or a toy.
- Play dough is fun and great for sensory and fine motor skill building. Make your own to bring along, or bring the ingredients and make it together with an older child.
- Dive into a simple cooking project, such as making cinnamon toast, a box of pudding or frosting pre-made cookies or cupcakes.
- Guide preschoolers through a visually exciting science project, such as making pennies turn shiny and new. It’s easy: Help little ones add one tablespoon of vinegar and one teaspoon of salt to a Ziploc bag. Add a few pennies, shake and squish them around… and watch tarnished coins turn shiny again.
- Math activities for preschoolers are a good way to teach and practice numbers while exploring. Take turns choosing an object easily found in their neighborhood – such as acorns, pretty leaves or flowers, rocks or shells – and take a walk together to find the objects. Count them as you find them.
These suggestions should help guide you in knowing what to do when babysitting to keep the kids entertained, and will hopefully inspire you to come up with your own fun babysitter activities, games for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.