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20 Everyday Items My Toddler Finds Fascinating

The mirror is a constant source of entertainment around here.

It’s no secret that toddlers are fascinated by the most mundane things, but man, it’s like striking gold when you realize which everyday household items your toddler fancies because you know what that means: your kid is occupied! Unless of course, your toddler is fascinated by plugs and kitchen knives and then, well, not so good.

When I discover Violet is into some run-of-the-mill item just lying around the house, I encourage her interest because DUH, she’ll be entertained. Secondly, this kind of interest is excellent for the little imagination. For instance, Violet loves candles.  LOVES them. She especially likes the scented kind and will sniff them several times and say the same thing each time: “Mmmmmm. Smells good!” She also moves them around the house and creates little scenarios with them: “Oh no, candle, come back!” She makes them chase each other and help each other out of sticky situations. I’ve cooked an entire meal for the family while Violet is engrossed in candle play.

This is the best equation: Toddler + fascination with stupid item = guilt-free time for mom. I stress the “guilt-free” because you know how it is when you stick your kid in front of the TV so you can have a few seconds to yourself — sure you have a few kid-free minutes, but you feel guilty the entire time (Spongebob is bad! TV is harmful!), so it kind of cancels your pleasure in having those few minutes.

With that in mind, I’m going to share with you 20 everyday items that seem to fascinate Violet in the hope that maybe your kid will latch onto one or two of these tricks and earn you some guilt-free mom time. And hey, what everyday items does your toddler find fascinating? Tell me in the comments!

 


  • Mirror 1 of 20
    Mirror
    From the time they can crawl on over to take a gander at themselves kids are fascinated by their reflection in the mirror. I remember the first time Violet French-kissed herself in the mirror —cutest damn thing I've ever seen. Even now, the only way I can try stuff on in a dressing room is choosing one in which she can arrange the mirrors so she can see "Two Wylets! More Wylets! So many Wylets!"
  • Water 2 of 20
    Water
    No brainer, right? Water in any form will occupy a little one for at least a full hour. From bathtub splashing to a couple of other unfortunate water choices you'll read about in the next few slides, kids dig them some water.
  • Dogs 3 of 20
    Dogs
    Violet follows our dogs, Max and Milo, around all day long. Thank goodness they're the benign kind of fellows that will let her pull their tails, their hair and even mess with their snooters so she can glimpse their teeth.
  • Dog Food And Water 4 of 20
    Dog Food And Water
    Remember that thing about kids and water? Yeah well, I routinely catch Violet playing in the dogs' water, which includes taking a drink or ten. She also enjoys a snack of dog food every now and again as well but only if she can get on all fours and eat it like the dogs do.
  • Salt And Pepper 5 of 20
    Salt And Pepper
    I have a sneaking suspicion this is because of Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper on Blues Clues. Nonetheless, I often hand Violet the salt and pepper shakers to play with while I cook dinner. She creates little scenarios, has them talk to each other, the whole nine yards. I've cooked entire dinners without having to entertain her because she's so engrossed in the salt and pepper.
  • Vacuum 6 of 20
    Vacuum
    This is hit or miss, I know. Some kids are terrified by the vacuum but Violet hears that sucker click on and she immediately runs over to watch me roll. She does this bizarre thing where she gets on all fours and crawls up the vacuum like some kind of crazy game of chicken. Who's gonna back down first, Violet or the vacuum? Of course, Violet wins every time.
  • Keys 7 of 20
    Keys
    What harried mama has handed off her keys to the kid to play with while she's trying to pay for the groceries or talk on the phone? Also, what stressed mama hasn't regretted that maneuver two seconds later when she can't find the keys? It's happened to me many times, but the allure of a few seconds of peace while she plays with the keys always prevails.
  • Hose 8 of 20
    Hose
    Another water-related activity. Violet loves the hose. From watering plants to drinking from the hose, she is all about this one.
  • Doorbell 9 of 20
    Doorbell
    I don't think there has been a time in the past three months that I don't have to pick up Violet so she can press the doorbell every time we enter the house. It's her thing. In fact, button-pressing of any kind is a huge hit. She loves to push the button to turn on the dryer and the dishwasher buttons often keep her busy for large chunks of time.
  • iPhone 10 of 20
    iPhone
    Do I even need to explain this one? Didn't think so.
  • Balloons 11 of 20
    Balloons
    Violet's interest in balloons is waning. I mean, she still digs them, but they don't occupy her quite as long as they used to. Back in the good old days when she was a year old, she'd run around the house dragging a balloon with her for hours.
  • Chapstick 12 of 20
    Chapstick
    This is a new one. We recently went to the shore and it was windy so Violet's lips became chapped. I took to spreading my Chapstick on her lips throughout the day and right before bed and now she's obsessed with the stuff. Putting the lid on, taking it off, smearing it on her face, putting the lid back on, taking it off... This can go on forever — or until she eats the Chapstick, which happens pretty often.
  • Leaves 13 of 20
    Leaves
    It's fall and leaves in every fiery shade imaginable cover the ground in our backyard. I don't think I need to tell you how awesome it is to play in leaves seeing as how I still enjoy it myself, but in case you weren't aware, rake up a big pile of leaves and send your toddler out into it while you sit nearby with a good book.
  • The Fridge 14 of 20
    The Fridge
    I can only imagine that to a toddler the fridge is some magical land that produces milk and juice and chicken nuggets and all sorts of other wondrous items, not to mention the light that comes on and all the colors inside! Sometimes, when it's complete madness and I need a second to cook dinner or whatever, I let Violet play in the fridge. Surprisingly, she doesn't get too messy — she mostly just takes out the ketchup and other condiments and then puts them right back in. She likes to organize stuff.
  • Piggy Bank (And Pennies!) 15 of 20
    Piggy Bank (And Pennies!)
    This is our latest and greatest. On a whim I bought a little plastic piggy bank for a buck at Target. Best thing I did all month. I'll sprinkle pennies on the floor and say "Violet, look! Pennies!" It takes her forever to collect them all and put them in her piggy and that's not even the end of the fun — she'll run around shaking her pig for hours, making it climb stuff and slide down. Get your toddler a piggy bank, you won't be sorry.
  • Music 16 of 20
    Music
    We have a record player at our house and I've constantly got Frank Sinatra or some other crooner like Louis Armstrong spinning. Violet says, "Fwank Atra" and likes to dance along. She's even started humming.
  • Shapes 17 of 20
    Shapes
    Violet knows all her shapes (thanks Nick Jr.!) so, sometimes, when we're somewhere that doesn't have any obvious entertainment I start pointing out all the shapes. "What shape is this?" "Can you find a circle?" That kind of thing. Our favorite is looking at square tiles in the ceiling and then turning our heads so they turn into diamonds. "Square, diamond, square, diamond, square, diamond." You get the drift...
  • Candles 18 of 20
    Candles
    I mentioned this earlier but Violet is fascinated by candles. Unlit ones, even! She just likes the colors and the smells and she especially likes the ones that aren't encased by glass. Don't know why, it's just her thing.
  • Books 19 of 20
    Books
    Thank God she's into books. The weird thing about this though is she's not just into her little kid books, she also really digs messing around with our books. She likes rearranging them and looking at the covers and pretending to read them. Whatever works, man.
  • Empty Boxes 20 of 20
    Empty Boxes
    Any human being who's ever experienced Christmas with a kid under five knows the importance of boxes. Usually they're a bigger hit than the actual gift that came inside. This is great because it's old-school creativity. It's a boat, it's a plane, it's a house! Whatever kid, just so long as you're entertained, I'm cool with all that!
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