We have a high-needs toddler, as I mentioned before. High-needs kids don’t really play independently, like at all. It can be challenging to shop for a little Cling-on (because the thing that mainly want is YOU), so I’m sharing a few of Josie’s favorite things today. Some of them are things she will enjoy independently, but she considers most of them to be two-player games. I really think all toddlers would enjoy these things, not just the ones with high-needs, but they are definitely the ones that Jo engages with the most. Though, I can’t say whether it is her temperament or personal interests, honestly. The more rigid or single purpose a toy is, the less she seems to engage with it. Most of her favorites are pretty open in nature!
Josie LOVES books. She has loved books since she was a older infant/very young toddler. It is an interest that has persisted. She will often ping-pong between Josh and I, asking both of us to take turns reading the same book to her over and over. Sometimes she will look at one independently, but it is super rare. Many of our favorites are Usborne books. They are the only MLM product that we really get into and hosting one party a year really takes care of most of our book needs. It’s awesome! Here are a few of our favorites (meaning, she likes them and I don’t hate reading them), Usborne and otherwise:
- How to Bathe Your Little Dinosaur
- All Better
- That’s Not My...(train/duck/whatever)
- Little Red Penguin Colors
- Very First Books of Things to Spot
- Big and Little boxed set
- Big Fish, Little Fish
- Llama, Llama Red Pajama
- Goodnight Moon
- Dragons Love Tacos
We have this dollhouse that used to be K’s. It is really the one thing that Josie plays with independently for any length of time. It is amazing. She plays with the people. She pretends the furniture is people sometimes. She uses her counting bears as people and plays with them and the furniture. All the kids that come over really enjoy it too. It is a hit all around! We took a lot of extraneous pieces out of it so it isn’t constantly getting dumped or needing to be reorganized so it all fits. As she gets older, we can add things back in, but for now people and really basic furniture is more than enough!
Finger paints, play doh (we make ours to avoid allergens), sidewalk chalk, markers, crayons, shaving cream, and pens/pencils are all big hits with Jo. Sometimes she even spends a decent amount of time in her highchair painting or playing with play doh on her own! She also likes to sit in a cardboard box and doodle on it with markers from time to time.
Josie loves her blocks. She also loooooves making us play blocks with her. We have wooden blocks, big megabloks, duplos, alphabet blocks, and they all get some love. She says, “Play blocks with me!” 50 times a day. Wait…maybe that isn’t a selling point. LOL. Very, very rarely she will play with them on her own, but not usually. I think she loves blocks because it is an easy thing to get other people engaged in.
And a few more random things…
She also enjoys her real (yet cheap) stethoscope, her trucks/trains, her babies/stroller, and counting bears. She pretend plays with all of these and it seems to occupy her for a bit longer than other toys when she’s in the mood to play with them. As with all things, it has to be her idea or she has zero interest. She pretends one of the trucks is in trouble and she has to save it, or she takes care of her baby, or she uses the bears and her dollhouse furniture to pretend different scenarios, or she is Doctor Josie and examines us or her baby. This has been a relatively new development, though, in the latter half of age 2. Most of the other items on the list have been popular for a while now.
But Josie’s #1 toy of ALL time is ANOTHER HUMAN BEING. Usually that human is me, but it can also be her dad/brother/sister or ANY small person who comes to visit. She is so content and focused on playing when there is another kid around. It’s crazy. We joke that maybe she should’ve been a twin because she thrives on constant engaged togetherness!
Do you have a high-needs kiddo? If so, what are your biggest hits? What buys you a little bit of quiet time?