Fuss-free, merry-making solutions to bond with your toddler…

Your once tiny, needy baby is now a walking, talking, opinionated little person. And she really becomes a person in her own right when she hits her stride at age 2. You can walk with her, reason with her (well, most of the time) and enjoy a proper conversation with her. But the best thing about your toddler is that you gain a mate!

Here are 10 simple but fabulous activities you and your little one will find a blast. But you know, it’s not what you do that counts, it’s enjoying each other’s company ― and having plenty of fun.

1. Work on green projects

If you have a garden or even a few potted plants, give your toddler some “plant duties”. Start simple. Get her her own little garden set and encourage her to dig the garden or loosen the soil in the pot. Next, sow some seeds together. Bright, colourful sunflowers are the perfect choice. Teach her how to use a watering can to water the plants. She’ll be happy to help, along the way, she’ll learn what it means to care for living things. Remember to slap on the sunscreen if you’re working outdoors and take lots of breaks for a “catching” game in the garden. For inspiration for your joint “green projects”, explore lush HortPark and the Botanic Gardens together, where you can admire the amazing foliage, play hide-and-seek among the flower beds and shrubs, and go wild in the playgrounds.

2. Lunch-time talk

Take your tot out for a leisurely lunch and she’ll feel so grown up sitting at the table with you. Let her choose her own meal, and chat to her as you would with an adult. You’ll be surprised at her conversational skills! Just don’t expect your little one to impress you with her table manners ― yet. Take your pick from the child-friendly family eateries that won’t bat an eyelid at messy eaters. If she wants to be just like Mummy, try a place where she can have a child-sized portion of an adult meal ― many restaurants offer children’s menus. Some even provide crayons and colouring books to keep junior busy while you wait for your food to arrive.

3. Take a farm trip

Drive out to farm-dotted Sungei Tengah and Lim Chu Kang and spend a day out with the kids. Farmart Centre sells small packs of feed for furry friends like bunnies and hamsters, while Hay Diaries features goat-milking sessions. If your kid is fascinated with cold-blooded creatures, bring her to Jurong Frog Farm to feed the bullfrogs or Qian Hu Fish Farm , where she can try her hand at old-fashioned longkang fishing (fee applies). The Singapore Zoological Gardens offers a much-loved petting area in its new Rainforest Kidzworld, which also boasts fun rides and a children’s water-play area (normal admission charges apply, rides have separate charges) Your curious little one can see how animal meals are prepared, get acquainted with ponies, guinea pigs and rabbits, and even watch horses being groomed.

4. Borrow a book

A trip to the public library near your home can prove fun and educational. Books aside, you can also borrow DVDs and CDs. To make your trip more exciting, tell your little bookworm that she can choose whichever book and video she likes. Back at home, read or watch it with her ― don’t just leave her to her own devices, since it’s all about spending time together. For help with finding suitable reads for junior, try the library branches at Woodlands, Tampines or Jurong, which have specialised children’s librarians. Many libraries now organise storytelling hours and sing-along session, just for toddlers.

5. Go to the movies

Going to the cinema or theatre is a real treat for your tot. Loads of brilliant children’s films come out during the school holidays, so scan your newspaper for more details. Take along her favourite sweater and snuggly for her to cosy up to when she gets the fidgets. While there, ask for a booster seat, so she won’t miss any of the action. There are also lots of theatre shows in December for toddlers ― check newspaper listings. As the Esplanade and the National Museum line up kids’ shows, browse their websites for upcoming programmes. Before you go, prepare your sweetie for the dark and loud noises, she may be a little bit daunted at first.

6. Indoor play

If it's rainy, pack everyone off for an indoor soft-play session. Here, your little one can undertake a mini-gym workout or show off her physical prowess. There’s nothing to stop you from jumping in with her. Indoor playscapes offer an array of activities in a safe environment, from slides and climbing frames, to ball pits. You can read or do some surfing in the parent-waiting area while your kid gets wild and wacky exploring the padded structures. Many malls also feature mini gyms, where both mum and child can really get grooving.

7. Swimming and water games

Enjoy a splashing good time together when the weather gets scorching. If you don’t have a pool nearby, try your nearest public swimming complex. Most feature baby pools and have lifeguards on patrol. All you need are swimsuits, towels, water wings and a drink and snack when you finally surface. Don’t forget fun floats and water toys. Play splashing games, practise your strokes, use up plenty of energy and your little one is sure to sleep well at night.

8. Good, Green Fun

No matter where you live in our “Garden City”, you’re probably find a park near you. Tell your toddler that you’re going on an adventure to look for nature’s creatures. Punch tiny holes in a jar lid and bring it along when you scout for bugs and worms. When you find one, pop it in the jar and throw in a leaf for food. When you get home, your mini Darwin will love checking to see how much it has eaten. After a few hours, release it in the bush or a grassy area. On your evening walk, point out different trees and flowers, then encourage her to pick up a few things to use in a collage you’ll be making back home ― grass, pebbles, leaves and twigs make a cheerful picture. If she really digs all this, upsize your adventure! Pack some water and biscuits, and “discover” the flora and fauna of a nature reserve, such as Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve or the newly opened Dairy Farm Nature Park.

9. Take a bus ride

You may dread it, but your toddler will adore a day spent hopping on and off public buses. Make sure there’s an ultimate destination, such as a park or the shops, but the real focus is the journey. Let her buy the tickets. While on the road, point out interesting buildings and different people, ask questions about what she sees and play “I spy” or counting games, such as “How many people are getting on at this stop?” It’s great fun, and you’ll feel like you’re on a special trip, without the luggage! It’s a cheap excursion as young children below 90cm travel free.

10. No Place Like Home

Don’t just leave your sweetie in front of the TV while you get on with your chores, spend some quality one-on-one time with her. Turn an ordinary day at home into an extraordinary one by planning something special and take the phone off the hook to minimise disruptions. In the morning, bake some cookies together before breaking for lunch. She’ll love sitting with you to share the same meal. In the afternoon, do a puzzle together, then settle down to watch her favourite DVD. At teatime, lay out a mat in the garden or on your living room floor, with all her teddies as guests, before serving those cookies you made at your “picnic”. End your perfect day together with a bath, story and bed.

Photo: iStock

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