10 Things to Do When Your Little One Can’t Be on the Move

Now that Elvie has had her surgery, she is in a brace while she heals. This limits her mobility significantly, and for our busy little girl, it can be hard to take. We’ve had to pull all sorts of tricks out of our hats to keep her as content as possible. I know that Elvie is not the only busy little one to have a period in which it’s impossible to move about as usual, and I think it’s helpful if we can all get ideas from one another to keep our little ones happy. Here are 10 things we’ve come up with to entertain Elvie while she can’t be racing around like normal. What do you do to help your babies and toddlers cope with limited movement?

  • She may be unable to move around as much as usual...

    She may be unable to move around as much as usual...

    …but I’ve got 10 things that we can do with Elvie to help keep her happy and occupied while she heals.

  • Bubbles!


    They’re simple but fun, and you can get all sorts of wands to blow them. Elvie can blow some herself, but we can also blow them for her and let her pop them as they come near.

  • Nature Walks

    Nature Walks

    Getting out of the house is always nice. I don’t want Elvie to feel like she’s stuck inside, especially when she’s stuck in whatever room we take her to. Time outdoors in the stroller is a welcome relief. Heading for a sidewalk in a place with lots of trees, flowers, and birds gives her plenty to look at while we are walking.

  • Read Books

    Read Books

    We read to Elvie, and she “reads” to us sometimes. Other times, she wants to look at the books on her own. We keep her favorites close by and rotate out others so she always has something new to look at. Our library has a fantastic selection of board books, so we can keep new titles coming.

  • Empty Out Containers

    Empty Out Containers

    Elvie likes bags with zippered compartments in particular, and if I put things in each compartment and zip it shut, she can open one at a time and make a glorious mess with what’s inside. She also likes to open lidded containers and undo drawstrings. There are a lot of options, all of them popular for our toddler who things that getting things out is her job.

  • Put Things in Containers

    Put Things in Containers

    The natural companion to taking things out of containers is putting them in a container, and Elvie prefers to put things in a different container than they came out of. After she’s emptied a bag, I might offer a bowl or a box. Even her shape sorter can have things dropped through all the openings.

  • Puppet Shows

    Puppet Shows

    We have a few stuffed animal sized puppets and a pretty good selection of finger puppets, and sometimes we throw in some plain old stuffed animals for extra characters. Elvie loves it when the different animals interact with each other, and sometimes she likes to play one of the parts. (Her favorite is an owl, as she’s very good at making owl sounds.)

  • Dance Party!

    Dance Party!

    Elvie has proved that you don’t have to be fully mobile to participate in a dance party. We put on our favorite dance tunes, and we all dance, with Elvie wiggling her arms, shoulders, and head enthusiastically.

  • Family Band

    Family Band

    We get out our instrument box, and everyone gets at least one instrument. Then we put on our favorite music video (Muppets, anyone?) and play along. We make quite the joyful racket, and Elvie loves it.

  • Play with Pets

    Play with Pets

    We have three cats, and two of them are quite laid back. We can bring them to where Elvie is and let her pet, pat, and hug them. Since we have two kids now and the grown-ups in the house are often too occupied with the children to give the pets a lot of attention, our cats love it when they get some extra special time with Elvie.

  • Introduce a New Toy Set

    Introduce a New Toy Set

    Whether it’s something we dig out of her big sister’s extensive toy stash, something borrowed from a friend, or a little something we pick up from the store, Elvie loves to play with little animals, and she gets excited when they are new (or new to her). An unfamiliar set of toys will keep her occupied for quite awhile.

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