Mom-Tested Tips for Entertaining 2 Toddlers in Different Stages

Mom-Tested Tips for Entertaining 2 Toddlers in Different Stages

Got a couple of toddlers with different needs? Try these tips to keep them both happy.

By: Marisa Torrieri Bloom

If you thought having two children under the age of 2 was hard, perhaps you haven’t experienced having two toddlers under the age of 4. Neither had I, until about a month ago. Now that my youngest has turned 1, I can’t just stick him in his bouncy seat with a pacifier while I play trains with the 2-year-old.

Fortunately, there are lots of parents who are raising, or have raised, two toddlers of two different ages, and we talked to some. Here’s what they say they do to keep two little, tantrum-prone kids happy and entertained.

1. “I try to do things that are safe for my 19-month-old, and often do art projects with yogurt paint or homemade play dough, or have a ‘tea party’ [with water]. They both enjoy it, even though I know my 3-year-old could be more challenged.” -- Byul P., 36, Gaithersburg, Maryland

2. “Keeping both of my kids active is the key. Playing with water is always a good one! Both of them love playing in the tub together. Summertime is great for a sandbox too. Both love being in there at the same time. Playing in tents or forts is another idea because they each crawl around at their own pace.” -- Cathleen M., 36, Fairfield, Connecticut

3. “Because my younger son always wants to play with his big brother’s toys, I like to enlist his big brother, who is almost 3, in ‘teaching’ the little one how to play with toys, like his train set. It makes him feel like he has a big responsibility. I also do this when I want my older son to try new foods. I enlist him to ‘show’ his 1-year-old brother how to eat.” -- Karen T., 37, Washington, D.C.

4. “Summer is great for outdoors because there’s the beach, yard, and park. Winter is tougher and always my challenge. Having the younger sibling -- who is two years younger than his brother -- tagging along on the older sibling’s play date is always the best option in the winter. The younger one can play a little and always come back to mom, and mom can get some interaction in with adults.” -- Jenni G., 35, Mechanicsville, Maryland

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5. “We signed up for a mixed-age [music] class, so both of my kids could be in the same class. The only times it proves to be a challenge is when there is a song that requires the child to sit on your lap, and they both want my lap all to themselves. Then, there is the occasional -- or sometimes frequent! -- toddler meltdown or fit, which requires me to be more attentive to the child who is having a problem and disrupting class – usually my 2-year-old!” -- Lesley M., 34, Charleston, West Virginia


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6. “I had my two kids back to back, 13 months apart. Keeping them entertained was always about being 10 steps ahead of both of them. My bag was always packed with books, toys, and snacks that each child liked individually. Although they were toddlers, my son was not thrilled with Barbie, and my daughter [wasn’t] excited to play with a race car. I made sure to have their own items handy when in the store, mall, or other places.” -- Stacy H., 38, Turnersville, New Jersey

7. “Making jewelry keeps them both entertained. My kids are two years apart, and my oldest likes to string beads into bracelets and necklaces for her and her sister, but my youngest still likes to put things in her mouth. To appease both of them, my oldest gets to use actual beads in a snack cup with a lid (which lessens the chance of beads falling out), whereas the little one gets dried pasta.” -- Michelle B., 34, Bear, Delaware

8. “One thing I did for my toddlers, who are almost two years apart and now 7 and 8 … is plastic egg hunts year round. Some of the colorful plastic eggs are empty but some may have [cereal] or animal crackers in them.” -- Saranya S., 36, Southport, CT

What are your ideas for keeping two toddlers entertained when they’re not the same age?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a freelance writer and guitar teacher who lives with her husband and two young sons in Fairfield, Connecticut.

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