Don't Retract Pack

45 Things to Do with Toddlers During Super Bowl XLV

By Danelle Frisbie © 2011
photo courtesy of Aaryn

One thing we've noticed has a tendency to happen on Super Bowl Sunday around the nation is that toddlers, with all their curious and eager need for involvement, tend to get pushed to the wayside too often. A lot of the time this ends in frustration and "misbehavior." Sometimes it ends in tears. Often, it is a rough day for toddlers while parents are glued to a televised football game. If you're the mom or dad of little ones, and planning for a Super Bowl 45 party, here are some ideas of those things you can do with your toddler during game time and keep everyone happy and involved in the process. These are all activities we've tried ourselves while watching a movie at home with night-owl kids, so they are 'toddler tested' and approved. ツ

photo courtesy of Nick

1. Color! Grab a variety of coloring books (you can often find these second hand, or at the dollar store if you don't want to dish out much $ on them). Or get one GIANT coloring book (we always loved the oversize variety as kids), or even just have a few blank notebooks.

 photo courtesy of Julie

2. Build with Blocks! (Or bristle blocks, "Krinkles," Legos, or any other building item).

3. Have a Muffin Tin Monday Sunday! Take toddler's favorite bit-size finger foods and put a different one in each compartment of a muffin tray. Have a glass of water near by and they will enjoy picking and choosing which items to snack on during game day.

photo courtesy of Nick

4. Blow up your summer pool toys and have a 'beach party' inside - rings, floaties, balls.

photo courtesy of Katie

5. Play farm! Get out the barn, the animals and the fences, and turn your Super Bowl set up into a farmyard.

6. Drive race cars - toss together some ramps with blocks, or place a board from the bookcase onto the floor and zoom zoom zoom...

7. Toss a (soft) football during plays or get out a small broom, a plastic bat, or other item to use to play 'golf' with a variety of balls around the house.

8. Point out the things you see in the commercials and say the name/color/number out loud to practice words - car, horse, dog, star, ball, soap, shampoo, teeth, drink... Tell a story to go along with what you see.

photo courtesy of Kara

9. Read a book or two during each commercial - or during the game if you are watching the Super Bowl for the commercials ;)

10. Get some Bach Rescue Remedy (or other special oil) and give foot massages and hand massages... even belly massages. Toddlers love 'baby massage' too!

photo courtesy of April

11. Wrap/sling the baby baby dolls and 'wear' them around the party

photo courtesy of Erin

12. Breastfeed! (always a toddler favorite)

photo courtesy of Sarah

13. Paint with washable finger paints or paint stampers - grab a couple large empty notebooks ahead of time, line the floor with newspaper or cut open paper bags, and let the kids paint up a storm.

photo courtesy of Milestone Mom

14. Get out the yoga/birthing ball and practice balancing. This is great exercise for a toddlers core strength - have them lay over and hold them while they practice rocking and rolling.

photo courtesy of Amber

15. Make an indoor sand table. Use a hard baby pool or large container, line with a couple inches of sand, have a few toys, small beach shovels, cups, etc., a bit of water for packing, and see what kind of sand designs and castles you can create. Small sifters make great additions to the sand table too!

16. Do jumping jacks - get some of that built up energy out. See how fast you can go. How s-l-o-w you can go. How high. How low.

photo courtesy of Costa Rica Yoga

17. Practice a yoga pose. Spread out your mat and do some balancing. A natural stress reliever and toddlers will love trying to imitate you as you hold poses on the floor.

18. Add some lemon and lime slices to your ice water for fun sipping drinks. Get some fun twisty straws, or fancy colored bendy straws, for drinks.

photo courtesy of Sarah

19. Put together puzzles on the floor.

 photo courtesy of Dee

20. Play dress up - another toddler favorite - even if it is just with mom and dad's big people clothes. Grab your most colorful - your most silky - your most fun shirts and shoes and jewelry and give tots their choice of selection.

photo courtesy of Aaryn

21. Make a foot bath. Take old buckets (ice cream pails, or large bowls of any kind). Fill 1/2 way with warm water, a scent or oil or bubble mix, float a few flowers or pedals on the top. Dip your feet and relax together. 

22. Take the boards out of your bookshelf, set them up against the couch, and you have a make-shift indoor slide! The slide can double as a ramp to toss down balls or run cars down.

23. Take silly pictures with different expressions during each shoot.

24. Sing during commercials (or during the game if you are watching for commercials). Sing fun songs, silly songs, loud songs, soft songs. Songs with actions, and songs with facial expressions.

photo courtesy of Nick

25. Play drums - this can be anything from pots and pans to a chair, bench, or turned-over tub of just about any kind. Drum sticks can be spoons, sticks from the tree outside, paint brushes, or anything else your toddler selects. Have an assortment - discover what different sounds come from different tools.

26. Set up a train track.

Rudy from the Puppy Bowl

27. Flip over to the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet.

photo courtesy of Tamara

28. Place sheets over the back of couches/chairs and make a fort! Move in the dolls and teddy bears and trucks and farm animals. Or, make a giant box house hideout from an old box or several that you open up on the side and duct tape together.

photo courtesy of Elizabeth

29. Grab your baby pool tucked away from summer, set it up as a mini 'pool' indoors. Place a bit of warm water in, bath toys, let the tots strip down or done a swim suit and do a little splashing. Warm water never hurt anything...

30. Water the plants - get a little toddler size watering can. Set up a safe (non-tipping) step stool so your little one can self-fill, or turn on the faucet in the tub and let them tote water from the bathtub to the big plants. Throw some towels on the floor if necessary.

photo courtesy of Nick

31. Cut snowflakes from scrap paper pulled from the recycling or colored paper you have at home.

32. Use old cardboard rolls from wrapping paper, paper towels, toilet paper and play 'telephone.' Experiment, discovering how the vibration feels and sounds when speaking through different tubes. Peek through at each other.

33. Use empty, 1/2 empty, and 3/4 empty water or soda bottles to listen to the different sounds they make ~ and make some music in the process.

34. Spread out blankets and pillows on the floor - make a GIANT bed where all the stuffed animals and dolls can hang out and play, and even take a snooze if 'they' want to.

photo courtesy of Tamara

35. Grab some (washable!) markers, color the palms of your toddler's hand and make handprints on Valentines to send out on Monday to grandparents/friends/family.

photo courtesy of Nick

36. Take baby-doll on a walk around the house in a walking wagon, toddler stroller, mini sling/wrap/carry.

 photo courtesy of Cynthia

photo courtesy of Jada

37. Put on an assortment of silly glasses and hats (snap some pictures!)

photo courtesy of Ashley

38. Draw with magnetic sketch boards.

photo courtesy of Reece

39. Tear/cut pictures out of old magazines of things your toddler likes - old animal magazines are especially great. Paste pictures into a notebook and color/paint/glitter around them.

40. Get some washable window paints ahead of time, throw towels down on the floor, and let your toddlers paint on the sliding glass door or windows.
41. Have some family photos printed ahead of times (Walgreens, or your choice of 1-hour photo). Cut out friends and family with fancy scissors. Glue them in a notebook or onto old cardboard pieces, or the insides of paper bags (cut open). Add some coloring, painting, or glitter around them.

42. Do a home version of the "polar plunge" - during commercials (or during the game) toss on some boots and a jacket and do a dash to the end of the yard, or down the stairs and back. See if you can beat your time the next round ~ be silly, sing along the way, make animal noises, have fun.

43. Take "airplane rides." Mom or Dad lay on your back on the floor, legs bent, feet flat. Holding toddler steady, lift him/her up onto the flats of your feet to 'fly' parallel to the ground. Or, take a "horsey ride" - Jump on mom or dad's back and take a ride around the living room. And if you need more run-around fun, grab the laundry baskets and go for a sleigh ride! (We've used bungee cords to pull a toddler-filled laundry basket around our living room - too much fun!)

photo courtesy of Sarah

44. Set up rocking chairs - big ones, small ones - do some rocking!

photo courtesy of Ivy

45. Have an UNbirthday ~ bake a cake during commercials, have candles, sing songs, don some party hats, blow out candles. Re-light, and blow out again. Repeat. (Another toddler favorite!)

Remember: You're not managing an inconvenience this Super Bowl Sunday. You are caring for a beautiful, fascinating human being. ♡

2012 Update! 

We may or may not be indulging in the super bowl game with kiddos this year, but creating a fantastic party platter replica is right up our alley! Check out these fun ideas - and if you do something imaginative, drop us a note. We'd love to hear from you.  



  1. Thank you! These are great ideas! We are taking our toddler to a super bowl party tonight, and I will definitely be trying some of these with her!

  2. I am not watching to Superbowl (even if we had cable I dont know if we would be watching it) but I needed some new toddler ideas for all this weather we are getting! Thank you =D

  3. I'd much rather play with my toddler than watch the super bowl. When she sees football on TV she talks about their hats and colors and loves to cheer for "papa's team". That only lasts for about 2 minutes and we are on to the next thing. I love this age, gotta embrace it!

  4. Best thing for people to do who have a toddler at home, is THROW OUT THE TV! i have a two year old, we do not own a television.... pay attention to your children and not the stupid hell-a-vision. pleh

  5. We don't watch tv, but by the time the superbowl starts we will be having our bath and going to bed!

  6. My 2 yr. old will be sleeping. I'm nursing her down as I type. :)

  7. I never brought my boy to stadiums or mass crowded events that could turn out of control with dangerous consequences too hard for an adult to stand.

    And I'm still wary, until they are of a teenage size to defend themselves fair enough.

    But have been with him to smaller crowds in circuses, theater, museums and the zoo.

    Not perfect, but maybe some parents take the risks. I have seen mothers with infants at Formula Speed car races roaring you deaf...go figure!

  8. ‎[the ideas are just for those who are watching anyway 'on t.v.' ~ guess it was assumed people would not be bringing babies to the super bowl live]

  9. You would be surprised my hubby is a sports freak and he had friends and family that take their baby's to sporting events no matter the weather or crowds :( It's not fair for the babies. We won't take our kids till they're like 9 depending on the event and the child.

  10. These are all really great tips. I'll be bookmarking and passing along for future reference — I think these are wonderful for any day of the week (especially rainy days). Thank you!

  11. Wow, what an amazing list! I like the massage idea best! My toddler is heavily into massages at the moment - both giving and receiving them. It's very cute! We don't have the SuperBowl in Australia, but if we did I know I would use some of these ideas. :)

  12. Great tips and great pictures :) since I do not particularly enjoy watching the Superbowl, at least I can use them to keep kids out of the living room while the others are watching and have much more fun than they will!

  13. I love that all but one of these can be done by dad too, in case MOM is the superbowl watcher!

  14. Thanks for all the great ideas! My husband does want to watch the football game (I have no interest...I'll probably sit beside him and knit), but he stated last night that until DS goes to bed, we'll need to watch the Puppy Bowl, since the child is crazy about puppies. I'm thinking I'll enjoy the Puppy Bowl more.

  15. love #9 because really, it's all about the food and the commercials, isn't it?

  16. These are some good ideas, but for a party you might also think about how the party is set-up. We aren't big sports fans, but some friends of ours have a party most years and about half the people are watching the game and half the commercials with a few people who just show up for the food. There is a bonfire outside with people talking and hanging out and a crowd in the kitchen with the food too. Whoever isn't watching plays with the kids and they Tivo the game so that if someone does miss something we can just rewind and see what happened. The kids get to run around after bedtime, play with the dogs, make new friends, eat treats and such that they normally never get at home, and know that they can snuggle in the carrier anytime they want. They love it and if they stop loving it we just go home.

    Kids are not an inconvinence, but an integral part of our lives and families. They should be allowed to participate (in their own way) in the customs and rituals that are important to us provided they can do so in a safe way. For some families this is the Superbowl, for others it is hiking and camping or something else entirely. This article gives some great ideas on how to make that happen. For those that are arguing, isn't it better to include our children in our lives than to leave them home with a sitter or stay home but whine or mope about what we are missing because we have them?