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7 Indoor activities for busy toddlers

I'm a food-focused mom, award-winning blogger and at-home chef dedicated to creating a foodie child and family. When Eliana, my 6 month old, began to eat solid foods in January 2012, I decided I would cook as much of my daughter’s food a...

Stuck at home with a toddler and looking for activities to keep you both sane? Look no further!

The recent bouts of snow in the Northeast have kept my family stuck at home a little more than usual. It can be challenging to keep a little one happy indoors while keeping your sanity intact, so below are some fun and easy ways to do both of those things on days when you can't make it outside.

1. Tap into tactile play

Playing with play dough is a great way to let your little one create. While she shapes and molds and plays, she's strengthening her fine motor skills, which will eventually help her to hold a pencil or scissors. Been there and done that with the play dough thing? Then play with shaving cream! Fill a rimmed baking sheet or a large, shallow bin with shaving cream and let your little one squish and splat. You can also do this with soapy water, plain water or sand. Throw in a few plastic cups and shovels for emptying-and-filling fun, too.

2. Read all about it

Reading books is a great way to pass the time on a day inside. Your little one might look at books alone or do it while cuddling with you. You can talk about what you see happening in the pictures and even act out parts of the books. You can imagine what the characters are thinking or saying when the author hasn't provided that information for the readers. What happens to the characters after the story ends? You and your little one can decide and add those events on to your favorite story.

3. Play dress-up

Kids love to get dressed up in special costumes and act out to burn off some energy. Put some old clothes of yours in a bin; add some different hats, scarves, mittens, old jewelry and even Halloween costumes; and let your little one go to town. Warning: You'll need to get dressed up as well, so find your silliest outfit and rock it proudly.

4. Paint, draw or color with your mini-Matisse

Get some nontoxic finger paint, easel paint or watercolors and let your little one go crazy! (Psst — you can do foot painting, too.) Throw down a plastic tablecloth or some newspapers to protect the floor and furniture, and of course, don't forget a smock or Mommy's or Daddy's old T-shirt. Or, for a less messy artistic venture, crack open the crayons, markers or colored pencils and let your little artist's creative flair flow.

5. Throw a dance party

Throw on whatever tunes get you all up and moving — and just let loose. No one is there to judge you, so you can channel your inner fly girl (or guy), shake your groove thing and party like it's 1999.

6. Build a fort

Take the cushions off the couch, gather some chairs and sheets — and voila, you have a secret hideout/house/playroom for you and your little one to enjoy. Just don't be too offended if your little one kicks you out so he can fill it with his toys and special friends.

7. Cook together

Get your little chef to counter height and create something yummy together. This apple pumpkin bread is a hit in my home, or go for a sweet treat with these cherry chocolate cookies. Or create a meal such as this "easy peas-y ravioli." Your little chef can help you out by mixing ingredients together, and of course, she can serve as the official taste tester of all ingredients that are safe to consume raw, and she can also sample the finished product.

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