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Visiting Relatives with Toddlers

January 29, 2013

If you’ve ever been visiting relatives with toddlers, you know it can be tricky to keep them fed, rested, and entertained in an environment that’s not always baby-friendly. This past week we’ve been visiting my in-laws in beautiful Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Today I thought I’d share what we’ve done to keep my nearly 2-year-old son busy while we were at his grandparents’ house.

Traveling Toys

Our packing space was quite limited since we only checked in one suitcase. I have a little backpack for him so we loaded it up with a few books, trucks, stickers, a notebook and pen, and his usual menagerie of plastic animals. We take it as a carry-on in the airplane.

Favorite Toys

One of the little cars I brought is a recent purchase from Sweetbottoms. The Hape Bamboo Vehicles are lightweight, small and inexpensive enough that it’s not a disaster if one gets lost on the trip. I also love the re-stickable stickers for trips because they can be stuck many times and won’t ruin Grandma’s nice table or chair with their stickiness.

For the first few days here, he asked me for some of his toys that we have at home. I’ve always made a conscience effort not to have too many toys and to encourage him to play creatively with things like blocks and balls and household objects. But over time, he’s developed quite an attachment to his growing library of books and wooden train set. When he asked me for these things, I just explained that they were waiting for him at home and that we would eventually go back there. (The last trip we were on, I got the feeling that he thought we were never going back home!)

Rides for all the Animals

In case you didn’t already guess, my son is obsessed with animals and, by extension, barns. At home, he has a little wooden barn that obviously wouldn’t fit in his bag. I was amazed when he discovered a random piece of cardboard packaging and decided it was a barn.


One of the great things about visiting my in-laws is their backyard pool. In Louisiana, it’s swimming season for most of the year–just not January. The daily high temperatures are usually in the 60s, so it’s not as if we need coats to play outside but jumping into the pool isn’t an option either. But the water still proved to be endless fun.

My husband taught him to hit the water with a stick causing it to splash. He could do this all day.


The other simple game we invented involved gathering small pine cones from the yard, lining them up and counting how many we had, throwing them into the water, and scooping them out with a strainer. It was a hit. Over. And over. And over. It was really a great way to practice fine motor skills and counting with play.

Sometimes I feel like e relay too much on pre-made toys at home. When we stay somewhere without many, we are forced to be creative and the result is fabulous.


Have you ever visited relatives with your toddler? Do they keep toys at their house or do you have to make your own fun? What are your favorite homemade activities?

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