One of the best tricks for breastfeeding moms with a new baby and an older child at home are busy boxes for toddlers to occupy them while baby is nursing.
Does it seem like your toddler magically needs you each time that you settle into a breastfeeding session with the new baby? They’re suddenly starving to death. They have decided that they want to use the big potty after all. Even worse, they see the perfect opportunity to wander off into another room and become completely silent. As the new baby latches and hungrily feeds, you know that the silence cannot be good news.
We have all been there. It adds a whole new new stumbling block compared to having only one child to worry about!
The solution isn’t to zap the curiosity out of your toddler or to put on another cartoon. You want to keep your older child entertained and perhaps allow them to learn something new while you breastfeed worry-free. You can do just that if you create busy boxes for your toddler. These boxes are filled with entertaining, educational toys that will hold your child’s attention long enough for you to breastfeed the baby. They can play happily, and you don’t have to worry about the constant interruptions, the horribly-timed temper tantrum, or the silence of doom.
What to Put in Your Child’s Busy Box
Busy boxes often have creative content because items that your child plays with all the time won’t keep their attention for long. Here are some ideas that you might use for inspiration, but keep the age, maturity level, educational interests, and personality of your child in mind.
- Legos or large building blocks. You may add other elements that will encourage your child to think outside the box.
- Occupation-themed boxes. You can put plastic tools for the handyman box, a baby doll “patient” with child-friendly nursing tools in another, or a cash register with plastic food and other items for a cashier box.
- Play-Doh or modeling clay. You may want to add pictures of simple items or bugs and encourage your child to make a clay version of the item. You can also add Play-Doh playsets that allow your child to make something specific.
- Children’s scissors with items that they can cut. Include string, various types of paper, cloth, and a variety of other items.
- Stickers, colored pencils, and a blank sketchbook. Each time you bring out this busy box, your child will have the opportunity to fill in another page of their “journal.” You may even ask them a question or give them another verbal prompt that they can answer in their book.
- Styrofoam cones or balls with feathers, eyeball stickers, or other pieces that they can poke into the foam easily. This is similar to a Mr. Potato Head, which would make another excellent idea for a busy box.
Come up with your own ideas based on what your child is interested in learning more about. If you have a little girl fascinated with dinosaurs, then a box filled with plastic dinosaurs may keep her occupied for hours. If they have an interest, there are many boxes that you can build.
Want Some More Creative Box Ideas?
Here are some links to some of the 100+ best ideas that we found for busy boxes for toddlers:
- Brain-Boosting Busy Boxes for Toddlers
- Perfect Busy Boxes for Toddlers
- DIY Quiet Time Busy Boxes
- Quiet Boxes for Little Ones
- 25 Easy-Prep Busy Boxes and Busy Bag Activities for Quiet Time Play
- Fantastic Felt Busy Box Ideas
- Quiet Time Boxes for Preschoolers
- 25 Quiet Time Activities for Kids
What to (Not) Put in Your Child’s Busy Box
You can use your creativity to come up with endless ideas for busy box content, but there are some rules that will help you avoid potential disasters. You don’t want to include anything that fits into these categories:
- Mess-Makers. This rules out finger paints and anything else that your child can dump on the floor, throw at the wall, or dip their hands into. The last thing that you want to do is pull the baby off the boob to prevent a disaster.
- High Difficulty. While you want to challenge your child, you shouldn’t put anything in the box that you know they will need assistance using. Try to introduce the toy to your child in advance and put it in the box only when they are able to play with it independently.
- Danger Zones. The goal is to give your toddler some independent quiet time, so you don’t want them to have anything that they might swallow or that might be poisonous. You will be sitting nearby to give some direction, but you might not have hands available to stop a tragedy from occurring.
Keep Your Busy Boxes for Toddlers Fresh & Exciting
It’s best to have multiple boxes on hand at all times. We also suggest bringing them out JUST when you nurse! That way the child looks forward to “Special Box time” and digs into the contents. This should keep their interest long enough to let you nurse during their distraction. Some kids even try to suggest to their moms often that “It’s time to feed the baby!” because they know it means they get to play with a box!
Some moms have upwards of 20 boxes in their homes, but you may not need that many if you only have one or two toddlers to entertain. If you only have one or two, try to change them out with new ideas at least once a month if they play with each box regularly. If you have a few boxes rotating, then you might get away with cycling them out less often. Your child losing interest in a box is definitely a cue that you need to freshen up with new ideas.
Once you start building boxes, you will come up with so many great ideas that you might find yourself changing out boxes all the time. This is the perfect opportunity to introduce new concepts and toys that your child might not naturally choose on their own, so move beyond their passions when coming up with your ideas.
We hope this gives you enough ideas to keep your toddler busy and having fun while you have time to relax and breastfeed a new baby.
Other Articles You Might Like:
- Preparing Your Toddler for a New Breastfeeding Baby
- Breastfeeding Toddlers Is More Normal Than You Think
- Breastfeeding Problems and Challenging Situations and Solutions
- Top 10 Breastfeeding Slings and Baby Wraps