If you’re a parent of a toddler, you would know it can be tricky to keep them busy.

If you’re out of fresh ideas, thankfully, you’re in luck as mum-of-two Codie Steen shares her top six toddler-friendly activities below.

1. Painting, with a twist

In this bright – and sometimes overwhelming – new world of sensory play, painting with cotton balls is a great option for low-maintenance mums and bubs. Squeeze your paints onto a palette (a sheet of paper, let’s be real), dip your wool into the paint, and start creating!

As it happens, this is a great after-dark activity for parents, too, with paint-and-sips taking on a life of their own in recent years. Sure, there are dozens of livestreams to choose from, but you could also just uncork and use some of Bub’s leftover ‘brushes’ to paint a masterpiece of your own.

Mum-of-two Codie Steen with daughter, Kalani.

2. Finger-painting

What if I told you, it’s possible for your little one to get their fingerpainting fix AND for your walls and floors to survive it? All you need is a sandwich bag, paints and, if you are feeling really bold, glitter.

Squeeze your paints into the bag and seal it, then show your little one how to squish the colours together with their fingers. You can draw letters, numbers and shapes together, if you like, or just leave them to play. When they are finished – and this is the best part – you can just throw away the bag.

3. Baking

Before having kids, when their names were still just a note in my phone, I thought that baking was something special I might share with them. Now that’s still true, but it did take a couple of goes to get right. My first tip? Let them choose the recipe.

My second? Kalani loses interest when baking becomes too-hard-basket, so I set her up in our Joie multiply™ 6in1 (which has transformed my life, by the way – it has six modes for bubs as they grow, including a toddler chair AND play table), keep the tasks simple, and the tools, easy to use. A friend of mine suggested swapping out a rolling pin for a drinking cup (for her little fingers to grasp) and it’s been a total game-changer.

Kalani is having so much FUN!

4. Oobleck

Oobleck is similar to slime (minus the mass commercialisation), and Kalani goes wild for it. All you need is two cups of white cornflour and one cup of water – mix them together, and you have Oobleck!

If your kids are a little older, it can also be a cool science experiment. I won’t pretend I understand the science, but Oobleck moves like water, and when you squeeze it, it hardens – there’s a lesson there somewhere, right?

5. Pasta for two

No list would be complete without pasta necklaces – a classic, and so easy to make. We use penne at home (cavatappi for special occasions), and dye them in a sandwich bag, using a combination of food colouring and vinegar.

Your little one will enjoy shaking the bag and, for Kalani, sometimes that’s enough. But for bubs looking for a little more, make sure you tie a knot around the first piece of pasta they thread; that’s your stopper.

Codie’s baby girl, Kaia.

6. Nap time

Living in Darwin, we were lucky to only experience lockdown for a week total in 2021. But during that time, I was exhausted. I felt disconnected from my family and friends, and I really struggled to dedicate time to self-care.

‘Nap time’ is just my way of saying, find that time. If it means putting the kids down to bed half an hour sooner than you would otherwise, do it. If it means ordering in, swapping dinner prep for your skincare routine, do it.

Give yourself the time for #6, so you have the energy to devote to #1-5.

* Codie Steen is an ambassador for global baby brand Joie