Diaper Bag Entertainment for the Busy Toddler

toddler diaper bag entertainment

Fact: I love my diaper bag. Go ahead and add that to the list of things I never thought I’d say before I had kids. But really, with my trusty bag of tricks by my side, I am prepared for anything. Gunky nose? Let me get you a Boogie Wipe. Thirsty? Here’s your water — no wait, that’s your brother’s… here’s yours! Baby blowout? Good thing I have this extra outfit and a Ziploc bag (although I’ve admittedly tossed a nasty onesie in the Target restroom trashcan and run the other way… sometimes they’re just too far gone).

With all the necessities, it’s often hard to find room for the fun stuff in our diaper bags too. And as all mothers of young children know — the fun stuff is key — especially when you’re doing anything that involves the word “waiting.” Waiting for the doctor, waiting for your food, waiting for your plane to land… it’s a part of life, much to every toddler’s dismay. But there’s good news! Waiting doesn’t have to lead to boredom and colossal meltdowns. Check out these four diaper-bag-sized activities to keep little hands and minds busy while you’re on the go.

Melissa & Doug Water Wow 
These nifty coloring books are clean, reusable, and small enough that you can always keep one handy in your diaper bag. Kids use the refillable water pen to paint over the pages and watch the color in the pictures appear. The pages dry after a few minutes and are ready to be colored again. All the fun without the mess! I also love to give these coloring books as big brother or sister gifts when a new baby arrives. They can be used right there in the hospital and are a hit with kids of all ages.


These fun little suction toys are perfect for toddlers and babies alike. They’re great for stacking, chewing, shaking, and sticking to flat surfaces. Just a small piece of advice: try to avoid the temptation of sticking them to your forehead. If you need more convincing, check out the Amazon review pictures of a few people who learned the hard way. My personal favorite is titled “hard to explain THIS at work.”

Busy Bags
Last year I attended a busy bag exchange party (much like this one) and came home with some awesome toddler activities, each of which fit into a gallon-sized bag.  My daughter’s favorite was a magnetic Go Fish game, and it soon started traveling everywhere with us.  If you have a group of friends or neighbors with kids around the same age, a busy bag exchange is a fantastic way to add to your diaper bag activity collection…. or you can always skip the party idea and make a couple on your own. Pinterest is chock full of busy bag inspiration for all different age groups.
Tegu Wooden Blocks

These blocks are on my almost-3-year-old’s birthday wish list and would be the perfect addition to my diaper bag arsenal. They’re magnetic, naturally safe, and come in a felt pocket case that makes them great for use on the go. I love that they’re simple, yet inspire kids to be creative and use their imaginations. The only issue I can foresee is my engineer husband not letting the kids have a turn!

I love to have these kinds of activities at my fingertips when we’re out and about, but does that mean I never hand my phone over to my child in a store or set her up with the iPad on a plane ride? Absolutely not. You gotta do what you gotta do sometimes, and if it gets you through Costco in less than one episode of Curious George, or through a plane ride without making the other passengers want to jump out of the aircraft, then I say do it.  I’ll never forget the time we resorted to letting our one-year-old watch Elmo videos on YouTube…. while in the crowd at Sesame Street Live. So there’s that.In other words, I’m definitely not against using technology as a tool, but I also love to have some other tricks in the bag to keep everyone entertained and happy when we’re out and about.Just the other day my husband asked me, “won’t you be glad when you don’t have to lug that big bag around everywhere?” My response: “Oh you mean when the kids are in college?”

Vanessa lives in Lenexa with her husband of 6 years, Chris, and their two sweet kiddos--Arden, 3, and Nash, 9 months. After 4 fun years in Houston, she is now enjoying being back in KC and getting to know her hometown all over again...this time as a mom. She loves old things, country music, cookie dough ice cream, and French bulldogs--especially the crazy one named Hazel that lives in her house. When she's not doing puzzles, pushing swings, or carrying a chubby baby on her hip, you can find her watching Fixer Upper reruns and trying to channel her inner Joanna Gaines. She thinks being a mom is by far the best job she's ever had--and not just because it allows her to drink extra caffeine and avoid pants with any kind of buttons. You can read more over at Vanessa's blog, Sunflower State of Mind