Cool, Creative Play on Hot Days

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Today it’s going to be almost 110 degrees in my neck of the woods. I don’t think my Midwestern blood can handle it, although I hear it’s been pretty hot back home as well, lately.

Here are some quick, creative tips for staying cool while keeping your toddler entertained, engaged, and away from the TV. Make sure you check out my cooling tips from previous posts, too!

1) HIT UP AN INDOOR PLAY SPACE: These places are popping up everywhere. Some are age-specific, themed, attached to restaurants and cafes, and some even have on-staff babysitters so Mommy can return some phone calls while her littles play under the watchful eye of a skilled supervisor. My favorites in the LA area are Kidville in Brentwood and Giggles ‘n’ Hugs in Century City. Kidville offers some really fun classes, too, which we love!

2) GET WET AND LET YOUR IMAGINATION DO THE WORK: This seems like an obvious one, but not everyone has access to a beach or pool, so a little creative thinking can go a long way for hours of cool entertainment. Beat the heat by turning your outdoor space into a smorgasbord of water-themed play. Construct “cooling stations,” consisting of several unique areas where your little can take a detour to play, cool off and let their imagination run wild:

-Ice Archaeologist: Fill a bucket with ice cubes and hide small toys or blocks inside. Give your little a toy shovel and and let them have at it. See how quickly they can “dig” out their treasures!

Update: One cautious mama pointed out to me that the ice can burn tiny hands. Yes, it definitely can if you hold it in bare hands too long, so for littler tots that can’t or won’t use only the shovel to dig, let common sense rule and supervise heavily: add some kiddie gloves to the equation if you’re planning on this activity! It’ll help with the “archaeologist” factor!

-“Fairy” Mist. Fill a clean mister bottle with ice water, spray and let your little’s imagination run free with stories of fairy mist and magic clouds. Sounds like a Grateful Dead show but guaranteed toddler fun!

-Rainstorm. Use a garden hose or sprinkler to create a “rainstorm.” Sing songs and dance under the rain to cool off. Make believe you’re escaping the rainstorm by donning rain hats or pitching an umbrella. This is a fun one for us because I literally can’t remember the last time it rained here, so a rainstorm is a huge novelty for The Bear.

-Doll Bath. Fill a tub or basin with water, add wash cloths and gentle, non-toxic soap (I love Episencial’s Playful Wash or California Baby Super Sensitive Hair & Bodywash) and let your toddler give their dolls or toys a “bath.” This will eventually help them learn how to bathe themselves (with supervision) when it’s their bath time, too!

Make sure each station is well-shaded. If you don’t have access to outdoor space, turn your bathroom into a mini water park by adding toys, a freezer pop and you! Hop in the tub with your little one to make it a little more out-of-the ordinary than just a normal bath. [Disclaimer: this method could get a little messy :)]

3) COOL TREATS: Whip up some healthy freezer pops by pureeing your child’s favorite fruit and freezing in a popsicle mold (check out Green Baby’s list of BPA-free popsicle molds here. My pops below are made with pureed blueberries and strawberries with vanilla organic yogurt). Keep a tray of frozen fruit and veggies within arm’s reach. Frozen peas and blueberries are a favorite in our house on hot days. [Common sense disclaimer: Make sure your toddler is old enough to chew and swallow whatever you set out.]

4) GET SOME ERRANDS DONE. Head to a one-stop shop like Target or Wal-Mart where you know the AC will be blasting and you can do double or triple duty (e.g., buy groceries, get a coffee and pick up some odds and ends for craft projects) so you’re not constantly running back and forth between hot parking lots. Turn errands into entertainment by making your little one part of the decision-making process. Narrate your shopping trip as you go to make your little feel like they’re part of the process. Let them help you “choose” which product (within reason) to buy by letting them hold or touch it before you select it.

If you’re spending time outside with a child on a hot day, it goes without saying that you should keep your little one safe from the heat and sun with plenty of hydration, light layers, safe sunscreen and a wide brimmed hat to keep the sun out of their eyes. Sunglasses—if they’ll keep them on—are a good idea, too.

By the way: don’t beat yourself up if you’re so zapped from the heat that you’re fresh out of creative ideas. I’m guilty of this pretty often and should take my own advice: relax, stay cool and just enjoy your time together!

Have a great summer day!




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