Are you interested in doing quiet time with your child, but aren’t sure how to keep them busy? Here are my favorite quiet time toys so everyone gets a midday break.
Raise your hand if you’re stressed about when they day comes and your little one doesn’t nap anymore.
When my daughter was younger, I was the person raising both of my hands. I cherished nap time so much, and I didn’t want to ever give it up.
You might be wondering: when do kids stop napping, and how are we going to survive without that midday break?
Your child’s daytime sleep needs decline as they grow, but you as their caretaker might still need an afternoon reset of your own.
Thankfully, there’s still a way to get a midday break even after your kid drops their nap. It’s called quiet time.
I am a huge advocate of quiet time for kids.
When your kid completely drops their nap around 3 of 4 years old, quiet time is a really great way to keep that afternoon reset button in play. Observing quiet time is an opportunity to harness some calm and quiet—and maybe even a nap here and there.
Let’s talk about how to keep your child occupied during quiet time.
What Are Good Quiet Time Activities?
The trick to keeping a successful quiet time for kids is making sure you have enough of the right independent activities on hand to make it worthwhile for everyone.
I know it might seem daunting to come up with ways for your child to keep themselves occupied on their own for any length of time, let alone for 30 minutes or more.
But when it comes to quiet time activity ideas, it’s important to keep your child’s development in mind. That means quiet time activities for toddlers will probably look different than quiet time activities for older kids.
I’ve discovered that the following kinds of activities are great ways for children to play independently:
- Imaginative Play
The following is a list of quiet time activities for kids based on their age. Each age group has activities that fall into each of those independent play categories.
Many of these activities listed are my daughter’s favorite quiet time toys!
Quiet Time Activities for 3 Year Olds
When looking for quiet time toys, it’s great to have something that pulls double-duty. In the case of this tray puzzle, it’s double-duty times three! Keep your toddler puzzled and occupied with this 6-in-1 farm animal puzzle.
The Mega Blocks giant lego blocks are a staple in most toddler houses. If you only bring these out during quiet time, your three year old is sure to stay busy!
Three years old is probably still a little too young to let your kiddo play fast and loose on their own with some markers or crayons. That’s why I love this magnetic drawing board—it’s guaranteed to be mess-free, and its erasable design means the blank slate possibilities are endless!
These colorful Magna Tiles offer endless building configurations. Their magnetic edges help the blocks stick to each other, but you can also give your toddler a metal baking sheet to build on top of so they can easily move their designs around their room.
This play kitchen provided endless hours of imaginative play for my daughter, and it’s still one of the toys she’s not ready to let go of after all these years! It comes with dishes, pots and pans, and toy food, so your little chef’s cupboard will be fully stocked.
Quiet Time Activities for 4 Year Olds
These dress up dolls with mix and match magnetic outfits are great for fine motor skills and pattern matching. My daughter still plays with this. For a more gender neutral option, this one is a similar concept but you dress the doll in uniforms based on their career.
Your 4 year old might graduate from regular Magna-tiles to a themed set like this, where they follow directions to create a specific scene. If your child loves building and wants a little challenge, this is a great option.
At four years old, I still wouldn’t trust my daughter unattended with a marker. Instead, we would use no mess markers and a coloring book set like this. The colors from the marker only appear when used on this particular paper.
Although your 4-year-old might not be reading yet, books are still a great quiet time activity. I especially like search and find books for this age, because it’s something your child can do on their own. And who doesn’t love Bluey?
Speaking of Bluey… the quiet time toy that get the most attention from my daughter is probably her dollhouse! Playhouses and figurines (like the house and characters from Bluey) are the catalyst to some of the most imaginative play at this age.
Quiet Time Activities for 5 Year Olds
As your little one turns five and prepares to head into school, it might be a good idea to find quiet time toys with an educational component. I really love these educational wooden puzzles because they give your kid a jump start on geography.
If your 5-year-old has grown out of (or grown tired of) their Mega Blocks, consider upgrading to Picasso Tiles (aka Bristle Blocks). Their unique design allows them to connect from many different angles, allowing your child to build more creatively.
Now that you’re about to have a kindergartener on your hands, it’s time to work on those writing and pencil-holding skills. These triangle crayons are designed to help your child learn the right grip for handwriting. Provide some of these crayons and coloring pages during quiet time, then have a little art show when quiet time is over.
Here’s another great book for early/non-readers who are just learning letter recognition. The I-Spy Letters book will take your little one on a quest for letters, and it’s a feast for the eyes.
Nothing like a little dress-up to keep your kid occupied and the imagination flowing! Quiet time would be a great time to bust out this doctor kit and ask your child to perform some routine checkups on their stuffies.
Quiet Time Activities for 6 Year Olds
While your 6-year-old might not be quite ready to tackle a full lego set on their own, a simple legos set (like this Lego Friends ice cream truck) could be the key. It’s a great way for your child to practice following picture directions, and exercise resilience and problem solving.
When I was a kid, I loved to use my spirograph for doodling cool designs. I like the Spirograph Jr. for this age, but the concept is the same. Just help your kid get it set up, leave them the supplies they need, and check out what they come up with at the end of quiet time.
By the time my daughter was six, I trusted her to use playdough on her own without making too much of a mess (or eating it!). With this play dough activity set, you may find that your kid looks forward to quiet time, especially if it’s one of the few times that the play dough comes out.
Now that your child is starting to learn letters and sight words, books might become more of a quiet time staple. For new readers, I especially like this compilation of Elephant & Piggie stories by Mo Williams. It’s got plenty of pictures and easy words, and it’s multiple books in one.
This was the age when my daughter became fully obsessed with Polly Pocket. She will play independently with these little sets for hours. Think about adding a Polly Pocket or Treasure X Skull Island play set to your child’s quiet time routine.
Quiet Time Activities for 7 Year Olds
Here’s a game that your kid can play on their own during quiet time, and learn about cool animals. This memory matching game allows your child to keep adding more cards to increase the challenge.
This marble run is a super cool building exercise. Plus if your kid’s room is dim during quiet time, it can put on quite the glow-in-the-dark show.
My daughter loves to color as a quiet time activity. If you have a little artist on your hands, this light up tracing pad is a great way for them to learn how to draw. It comes with color pencils, so all you need to do before quiet time is print out some pictures of your kid’s choosing, then leave the rest up to them.
If your seven-year-old is starting to read well, a great book series is sure to keep them occupied during quiet time. I think Narwhal & Jelly is a great introductory series, or for slightly more advanced readers, a beginner’s chapter book like Zoey & Sassafras would do the trick.
I absolutely love sharing my childhood passions with my daughter. We’re starting a Harry Potter phase and it is magical. She got this Magical Minis Hogwarts play set for her seventh birthday and she spends so much quiet time with it—her imagination runs wild!
Is Quiet Time Good for Children?
Quiet time is a great idea for a lot of reasons, especially when it gives you a little break and some grown up time to yourself.
But quiet time is also a great developmental process for your child as well.
The most obvious reason that quiet time is good for kids is that it’s an important reset for the day, both physically and emotionally. They get to rest their bodies a bit, and if they’ve been having a tough day emotionally, it’s a good emotional reset as well.
Many of the quiet time toys and activities on this list will also aid in the development of your child’s imagination, language-building, and fine motor skills.
But perhaps my favorite thing about quiet time is that it provides kids with an opportunity to practice self-regulation and independent play. These are such important skills to learn, especially if your child is heading off to school soon.
What Age Do You Stop Quiet Time?
Not only does the answer to this question depend on your own child’s development, it’s also based on your family’s midday needs.
As children get older and become involved in more activities or school, eventually quiet time might no longer serve either of you.
However, it might also be the case that your kindergartener or first grader needs quiet time at the end of their school day to decompress after a long day of stimulating activity.
If you can swing it, I say keep offering quiet time as an option, particularly if your child has benefitted from it up until the point that they start school. Sweeten the deal with some of the quiet time toys listed above and see how they respond.
We’ve transitioned quiet time to being after school, and it serves as a way to earn a little screen time.
Quiet time has never been my daughter’s favorite activity, so we save TV for after quiet time, and she earns some TV time by doing her quiet time.
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