DIY Toddler Busy Bag Ideas

A few weeks ago I got together with a few of my mom-friends for a Toddler Busy Bag Exchange. When my friend asked me to participate, I jumped at the chance - with baby girl coming, I really wanted to have a few things on-hand to keep Eli busy through the winter, particularly as I was nursing. I've heard of other moms that have a "nursing bag" for their older children, a bag of toys that the child can only play with when mom is nursing, and I thought the games included in a busy bag exchange would be the perfect way to fill one for Eli. 
There were five moms total in the exchange and we each made two different activities. There are seriously hundreds of activity ideas online with a quick Google or Pinterest search, so I won't go into too much detail on each activity (I did link them to more detail where I could), but hopefully this can give you a few ideas and inspiration to make one for your little one. 

I threw all of the games in this bag - it's only five bucks on Amazon! I freehanded on a quick star with fabric paint, but realized later I was heavy on the paint, and didn't use enough of the fabric medium - hence the streaks, but Eli doesn't care and just loves pointing to his "star bag," so I'm rolling with it.

Here's what's included in the bag:

Pool Noodle Pick Up - Have children place noodle pieces on the string in numerical order, and older children can string them on in odd or even patterns. (For the record, I realize number eight is missing! Eli lost it somewhere before I was able to photograph it. Whoops!)
Magnetic Pom Poms with Printables (Put the printables on a cookie sheet and have your child match colors, fill in shapes, etc.)
Wiffle Ball Weaving - Weave the pipe cleaners through the wiffle balls. 
Pom Pom Stuff-It-In - Have your child just push in the poms, count the poms as they go in, or sort them by color. As they get older, have them work on dexterity by using tongs to pick the poms up and put them in the hole. (Quick tip - I ruined a lot of lids in the process of making these. Eventually I found the best way to make the hole was to melt the center with a lighter, then use a toothpick to smooth the plastic out while it was still hot and soft.)
Colored Craft Sticks with Velcro - Toddlers can make shapes or do color matching.
Craft Stick Puzzles - Line up the craft sticks to create the picture.
Paper Clip Match Up - Match the colors of the sticks to the paper clips.
Homemade Playdough - No worries, it's edible - although it would taste disgusting - perfect for toddlers, right?
Spoon Shape Matching - Children match shapes between the clear and white spoons.
Fishing Game Four ways to play: 1) Just fish, 2) Fish in rainbow order, 3) Fish in numerical order, 4) Fish by "eye size." (And look how cute it wraps up below!)


  1. Such great ideas! Saving this to do for my own toddler! Great for so many things - like going out to eat, the doctor's office, etc.

  2. These look awesome! I need to start working on a busy bag for when my 2nd child comes. They'll be about the same age difference as Eli and Colette so I am wondering if you found this bag to be useful for when you were nursing Colette. Was Eli able to do all of these activities independently? Some of them sound a bit beyond what my 17 month old is currently capable of (granted, she'll be 3 months older by the time the new baby comes).

  3. Thanks Elle! To be honest, he wasn't able to when Colette was first born - I used it more as a "special time" bag, where he and I could spend quality time together after she came while she was napping. He can do a lot of it now at 26 months! But at 20 months he would pretty much just take everything out and throw it all over the room - and then was bored after 10 minutes. :)