The Fussy Baby Site

5 Ways To Keep a High Need Baby or Toddler Entertained

High need babies and toddlers tend to suck at entertaining themselves.

While other kids are content to sit in a bouncy seat looking around, or can sometimes play happily with toys on their own, these things can be very difficult (or impossible) for a high need baby or toddler

This can be extremely frustrating for the parents who simply wants to shower in peace and quiet, wash the dishes, or God forbid – spend 5 minutes in the bathroom alone.

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to MAKE your high need baby learn to entertain him or herself.

While it’s a great idea to give your child brief opportunities to start learning to play independently (look up the idea of benign neglect), he or she will still likely continue to need lots of help and reassurance to become more independent.

So, what’s a parent to do in the meantime?

While I don’t have a magic solution for you, I do have some suggestions that have worked for many of the parents in our Facebook support groups.

1. Loud music or white noise (depending on your baby’s age).

For fussy newborns or infants, putting on some loud white noise may be just the trick to immediately triggering the “off switch” for your baby’s crying or fussing.

However, keep in mind that all white noise isn’t equal!

To soothe a crying or fussing baby, you’ll need loud, high-pitched, “hissy” white noise, NOT the deeper, more rumbly white noise that works for helping them stay asleep.

Some ideas for white noise:

  • The Happiest Baby on the Block Soothing Sounds CD. This CD contains all the white noise options you’ll need, both for soothing a crying baby or for helping him or her fall and stay asleep.
  • The vacuum cleaner. No, this isn’t just an old wives tale! Many of our parents swear by the vacuum cleaner, or an app that simulates the vacuum.
  • The radio set to static (turned up LOUD)
  • The “Baby Got Colic” YouTube video. Another fan favorite among parents of colicky babies!

For older babies or toddlers, try loud music…fussy babies seem to especially like dance music with some good bass.

Basically, try whatever your favorite music is, and make sure it’s loud. You may be surprised to find your high need baby suddenly calms down, and can even play independently for a few minutes!

2. Little Baby Bum 

I’m honestly not sure what it is about this TV show, but parents in our Facebook support SWEAR by it.

Many say it’s the only show that keeps their high need baby or toddler entertained for more than a few minutes.

Fortunately, you can find a variety of Little Baby Bum shows on YouTube, as well as on Netflix.


3. The Spark Kitchen Sink Toy

If there is one toy or product that has completely OVERTAKEN our Facebook groups it’s this one. Around 4 months ago, our members starting posting about this play sink, claiming it kept their high need baby or toddler entertained for HOURS.Spark kitchen sink

This doesn’t surprise me, given how high need babies and toddlers tend to prefer “real life” stuff over toys.

The sink has real running water, letting your high need kiddo “wash” his dishes for real.

The only thing is – it’s pretty darn hard to find. Our members recommend going to your local Walmart where it’s just $15 (!). Don’t be surprised if can’t find it on your first try. You may also want to ask customer service to let you know when it’s available.

Amazon and most other online retailers have it in short supply too, but keep checking back.

Amazon currently has it in stock here.

When it’s in stock, Walmart has it here.

4. Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy

For the newborn to one year old crowd, this toy is a must have.

It doesn’t seem like it would be any better than other musical toys out there, but somehow high need babies seem to love it!Baby Einstein take Along toy radio

The Baby Einstein take along musical toy is basically a pretend radio that plays a number of different songs. My nephew actually had one when he was a baby, and I can attest that the songs aren’t even that annoying.

A dad in our Facebook group recently asked for recommendations other high need babies love…when I suggested this one, he replied that they already had two – one for the nursery and one for the living room!

5. Get outside

Toddler Water table

From newborn to toddler+, high need kids seem to love fresh air.

For a colicky baby, you’ll still usually need to be highly involved. Baby hate the stroller? Try the Sleepy Stroll.

For older babies and toddlers, you might be surprised at how long they can play independently when you’re outside.

Some ideas for giving you some much-needed alone time while outside:

  • Go to a toddler-friendly playground
  • Give your toddler a paintbrush and a bucket of water, and let her “paint” the fence
  • Get a water table like this one (see above) for your deck or backyard. High need kids tend to love water play!
  • Ask your high need toddler to “help” you outside. This could include pulling weeds, collecting rocks, watering the plants, etc.

Looking for more ideas for keeping your high need baby or toddler entertained? These posts will help!

30 Hacks To Keep Your Baby or Toddler Entertained (For More Than 5 Minutes)

How To Get Things Done With a High Need Baby or Toddler