Valentine’s Day Fun for Toddlers
Holidays are 10 times the fun with a little one in the house! And when Valentine's Day rolls around, it means even more love is in the air. Looking for ways to make this year's celebration even more hearty? Check out these tot-friendly activities!
Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to teach your toddler about love, friendship, and being kind to others. Even if your little one can’t yet say those three special words, she already knows the truest meaning of love. Get out photos and talk about all your family members—cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles—and friends and what you love about them. And tell your little one how lucky in love they are.
Sing Your Heart Out!
Kids this age love to share a tune with you, even if they can’t really keep up with the lyrics. Put a Valentine’s Day spin on some of your child’s favorite songs. Use the tune of “Bingo” for this hearty number:
To show how much you love your friends
Just sing a valentine heart song.
H-E-A-R-T, H-E-A-R-T, H-E-A-R-T
Each “heart” tells that I love you! (You can change the word “friends” to a specific name, or Mommy and Daddy, for additional verses.)
Hand Over Your Love
You’ve heard it a million times: “They grow up too fast.” So, take a few minutes this Valentine’s Day to preserve some toddler memories. Use a little (non-toxic, washable) paint and craft paper to make Valentine’s Day-inspired handprints. Once dry, turn the prints into a refrigerator drawing, a framed keepsake, a placemat, or any made-with-love Valentine’s Day present. Your little one will have so much fun making these handprints you’ll have gifts for the grandparents, babysitters, and the mailman covered.
Stamped with Love
Toddler toes are pretty cute, too. So why not make a Valentine’s Day card you’ll both get a kick out of? All you need for this project is some construction paper; non-toxic, washable tempera paint; markers or crayons; and a little more bravery than was required for dealing with their paint-covered hands! Stamp their footprints on the paper (heels together, facing opposite directions) to create the wings of an angel and voilá, Valentine’s greetings from the sweetest angel around.
It’s true your toddler doesn’t need many gifts at this age (plus, she’s probably still fascinated with all the new stuff from the holidays). But you hate to let V-day pass without a little something special. Puppets are the perfect, entertaining gift for your little love. You can purchase cute finger puppets or get crafty and make your own dancing heart puppet (see the full instructions here). Either way, a little puppet play will be his heart’s delight.
Be Sweet to the Birds
When it comes to gift-giving on Valentine’s Day, there’s plenty of love to go around. So don’t forget your furry and feathered friends outdoors. Have your toddler help you make a lovely critter feeder using bread (dense kinds work best), a heart-shaped cookie cutter, water, egg whites and birdseed. They’ll giggle with excitement when they see your backyard friends enjoying their Valentine’s Day treat. And hopefully, Squeaky the Squirrel and Rosie the Robin will know they are loved.
Artists Inspired by Love
A love of getting messy, that is! Let your budding Picasso express that love on Valentine’s Day with some pudding painting. Either mix a few drops of red food coloring with one box of instant vanilla pudding, or opt for strawberry yogurt. (Food coloring can stain some surfaces, so be mindful when prepping where he’ll be playing.) Whether his canvas is the high chair tray, a cookie sheet, or freezer paper so you can save their masterpiece, your little one will be tickled pink that you let him make a creative mess to celebrate the day. It’s a craft … it’s a snack … no, it’s just plain, sweet fun!
Valentine, You’re So Smooth
For another another tasty (and healthy) Valentine’s Day snack, whip up a pink smoothie. (It’s as sweet but less messy than the painting project). Just blend five strawberries, half of a banana, and one cup of milk on high speed until well blended. Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream on top for some extra sweetness for your sweetheart, if you like.
Eat Your Heart Out
Of course, you don’t want to let your little one go wild and devour all sorts of Valentine’s goodies (and we know, there’s a lot of them!). But a little indulgence can go a long way to make your celebration sweet. Make a set of edible valentine cards with your toddler using graham crackers topped with vanilla frosting and candy conversation hearts. (Choose the larger hearts over the smaller ones, which could pose a choking hazard to very young children.) These cards are cute, tasty, and encourage reading at snack time. What a lovely conversation, er, combination!
Toddlers love games, so this Valentine’s Day spend the afternoon playing some of their favorites, guided by the heart. Play tic-tac-toe with large candy conversation hearts and Valentine’s M&Ms. Or make a set of love notes and play a game of Valentine’s Day memory. (See instructions and ideas for other heart-inspired games here.) Or if you and your toddler are part of a playgroup suggest turning a game of musical chairs into musical hearts (tape hearts to the floor in a circle instead of using chairs) so you all feel the love.
Love to Read
Hopefully, reading to your toddler is part of your daily routine. So, just give it a hearty twist for Valentine’s Day. Look for love-inspired titles, like The Day It Rained Hearts, Snuggle Puppy, Guess How Much I Love You? and Where is Baby’s Valentine. Or check your local library or video store to see if they have any Valentine’s Day cartoons, such as Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown; Clifford, Be My Big Red Valentine; or Barney, Be My Valentine. It will come in handy when you need to relax after whipping up that romantic meal for your true love.
Show Your Love
As if you needed an excuse to shower your little one with kisses, Valentine’s Day is one day of the year to truly celebrate your family’s love for each other. But let that feeling linger! Make giving lots of hugs a regular occurrence. And say “I love you” first thing in the morning, when you kiss your little one good night, and as many times as you can in between. Your toddler will be sure to carry that feeling of being loved unconditionally all throughout the year.
With simple, loving actions, it’s easy to make a holiday like Valentine’s Day feel like a special day for your little ones.
1. Make heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast.
2. Buy some red, white, and pink streamers and decorate the playroom.
3. Cuddle a little longer before naptime.
4. Make Valentine’s Day placemats together to decorate the dinner table.
5. Toss a couple of rubber ducks who’ve been struck by Cupid’s arrow into the tub.
6. Use these other ideas for sending “I love you!” signals.
No matter how you celebrate, remember even the littlest love-filled gestures make your littlest Valentine feel special, which is what the holiday is all about.
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