You’ve got an hour before dinner, and your kids are still amped, but it’s been a day, and you need a break. These toddler games are perfect for kicking back on the couch
Toddlers are naturally curious, love to explore their surroundings, and appear to have a boundless amount of energy, which can be exhausting for the parents who have to keep up with them. Luckily there are games you can play while lying down that involve very little energy on your part but are still super fun and interactive. From storytelling games to nursery rhyme trivia, these toddler games are the perfect solution for days when you need to kick your feet up.
I’m Thinking of …
An easier version of 20 questions, this fun guessing game to play with toddlers is perfect when you’re craving some downtime. Use words to describe something you’re thinking of—an animal, place, book, stuffed animal, etc.— without giving away what it is; your kids will guess what you’re thinking of. You can get started with, “I’m thinking of an animal that likes to take naps in the sun and says ‘meow’ when it’s happy.”
Magnet & Paperclip Tower
You may already have what you need for this low-key activity; just be sure to grab everything before you lay down and get comfortable. You’ll need a large magnetic base and a stash of paper clips. Building on the magnetic base, toddlers can see how high they can build their tower of paperclips or what shapes and designs they can orchestrate through magnetic play.
Push the Right Buttons
All you need is a bucket of spare buttons to keep your kid occupied when your energy is zapped after a long day. Ask them to sort the buttons by color and then size or find ones that match. If this excites them and they want to get creative with buttons, you can see more of our favorite button activities here. Note: Your child should be old enough to know not to put buttons in their mouth for this activity.
It’s a classic for a reason! You can play anywhere, including from a horizontal position on the couch. Level up with this easy-to-make DIY I-spy jar (fabulous for road trips or bedtime routines, too!), or just a good old “I spy with my little eye something blue” is encouraged too.
Don’t Wake the Bear
You’re the bear pretending to be asleep (perfect!) in this version of the game, and your toddler has to take turns quietly sneaking up to you to steal a small object, such as a pillow or toy, without waking you.
Build a Nest
Nesting doesn’t have to end with the third trimester. Keep it going with this toddler-aged version, and set up a circle of cushions or pillows and sit in it. It’s now your nest, and your kiddo is now a baby chick, a raptor, or anything that hatches. Your job is to cozy up and send them on missions like fetching food or learning to fly in this game you can play while lying down.
Hot & Cold
Before you lay down, have your toddler pick their favorite toy or stuffed animal for you to hide. Once you’re settled in on the couch, they can search for the hidden item while you call out “hotter” as they get closer or “colder” if they move farther away. The key to this one is to make it hard enough that you get a long enough rest but not so hard that your little seeker gets discouraged!
A laundry basket can signal your least favorite household chore or a way to entertain your kiddo while you rest. Set up a laundry basket and encourage your toddler to throw softballs or stuffed animals into the basket. Have your toddler move the basket farther away if it gets too easy. You can also hide a favorite toy or stuffie under a pile of clothes and let your tot “seek” it out or fill the basket with clothes and ask them to sort the laundry by color.
Reading an Adventure Book
Toddlers are always up for an adventure, but some days you’re just not in the mood. We get it! That’s why reading about one is an alternative that makes everybody happy. Check out our list of the best toddler books of 2023 for a few you may not have read before.
Encourage imagination and creativity while you catch downtime with a fun, lighthearted Storytelling Game. Start by giving your a prompt, such as “Once upon a time, there was a silly monkey who loved to dance.” Then encourage them to continue the story by asking questions like “What did the monkey look like?” or “Where did the monkey like to dance?” Take turns and add to the story; each person will build on what the previous person said.
Stargaze from Bed
Whether you want to make your toddler’s bedtime routine more enjoyable or you want to cozy up in their bed yourself for a mid-day rest—it helps if something is interesting to look at on the ceiling. Dim the lights and try stargazing from the bed with these ceiling decals. You can point out different constellations or ask your toddler to find different shapes or patterns in the stars.
Magnetic Rainbow Busy Box
Sitting still and giving you a moment of peace isn’t always easy for the tot lot. But give them this Magnetic Rainbow Busy Box from . It can be an art project just to create the box, and they’ll have endless fun learning and spelling once it’s finished.
Doctor, Heal Thyself
Get the imagination juices flowing and let your kiddo play doctor while you play the tired, weary patient who needs to lay down. Break out the pretend medical kit, or if you don’t have one, choose real-life wellness props like thermometers and bandages, then let them be the ones in charge of making you well again. Taking your temperature, listening to your heartbeat, and bandaging your boo-boos should be part of the routine.
Search and Find
Lie down somewhere comfortable. Say, “I want you to find something that’s square,” “Something with a bell,” or “Something red.” Repeat. Variation: give them a list with little drawings or words of what to find while you close your eyes for a few minutes. Then, of course, they need to put everything back exactly where they found it.
Nursery Rhyme Trivia
Ask your toddler questions about their favorite nursery rhymes, such as “What animal did Mary have in ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’?” or “What do the stars do in ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’?” You can also sing a line from a nursery rhyme and ask your toddler to finish the line.