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How to stimulate my child (less than 2 years old) in a situation of confinement?

Foreword: We offer ideas for stimulating your child, less than 24 months old, during confinement.

However, it's important to make room for free time and boredom for your child, as well as for you. It is also essential to have fun together ... So choose the activities that you prefer!

We give you examples of stimulating activities by area of development. Choose and adapt them according to your child's level of development and age.

First, I can list the activities that my child likes to do, that he already knows or masters. It is not necessary that the activity is already very developed.

This list will serve as a basis from which I can imagine how to enrich the activities and vary them.

Here are different areas of activities and games:


1. Nursery Rhymes

2. Physical games

3. Ball games

4. Reading stories

5. Pretend play


1. Manual and creative activities

2. Construction games

3. Motor pathway

4. Dance




I choose nursery rhymes that I already know and that I like myself. I favor nursery rhymes in my mother tongue.

If I don't know one, I search the Internet for nursery rhymes in cartoons or films. I preferably do them in real life, with my child, without using the screen (even if it allowed me to get inspired in the first place).

I can also invent my own nursery rhymes! The idea is to have the same gestures and the same verbalizations every time, regardless of the content.

To get inspired:


  • I make my child realize the rhyme gestures (mill, fish, bird ...), with total or partial physical accompaniment (I take my child's hands and I help him to carry out the gestures at the same time as I sing). I can also ask someone to do this guidance while I do the nursery rhyme in front of my child.

  • I repeat the same nursery rhymes everyday so that my child can memorize the words and / or the melody. I can have a repertoire of 2/3 nursery rhymes to start with, I will then have plenty of time to set up others.

What skills can I stimulate with nursery rhymes?

Gradually, I repeat or leave latencies before the end of the sentences, stopping the gestures (“turn, turn, little ...”) to bring out the vocal or verbal initiatives of my child, even if they are very approximate. I can reward him with congratulations and the pursuit of the nursery rhyme.

· The strategies to stimulate demands will be different depending on the stage of development of my child. If I want to know my child’s stage, I can go to the site: https://naitreetgrandir.com/fr.

· Nursery rhymes are predictable activities (always the same song, the same gestures), my child can easily anticipate what follows. Nursery rhymes with the introduction of pause time (latency) allows the emergence of initiatives from my child.

· When my child understands that I stop at a time in the nursery rhyme, I pay attention to his initiatives, whatever they are:

- He takes my hand to ask

- He looks at me

- He vocalizes

- He completes a sentence or a sound

- He says “again”

- Etc.

· I can also make a little nursery rhymes book with my child. A page corresponds to a nursery rhyme and is represented by a drawing. I leave the book open on the nursery rhyme page while I realize it, hence drawing my child's attention to it. I can then guide my child to indicate the nursery rhyme that he wants to sing, by showing me the correct page.




· I set up a physical play routine (the same simple, repeated sequence which can be a combination of gestures/movements and vocalizations/words).

For example, move your fingers in front of the child while looking at him and pronouncing “it's the little beast…” then start to tickle him on the foot and go up to the neck by verbalizing “who goes up, who goes up, who goes up”.

· I repeat the same physical play routines every day.

· When the routine is well understood by my child, I can, as for nursery rhymes, leave pause times (latencies) in gestures or vocalizations to wait for the child to ask me for continuation or renewal (whether by a look, a gesture, a vocalization, etc.).


If my child does not walk, does not invest in this game or does not pay attention to it, I position him seated facing me, about 1 meter away:

· I choose a ball that is not too big (15-20 cm in diameter) so that it can be used with both hands.

· If my child is not interested, I take sensory balls: with sound, light or texture to maintain his attention.

· I take a turn “over to you”, associated with the score with each throw and I communicate with my child.

· If necessary, I can guide the movement (I position myself behind my child and I do the movement with him).

Once this step is acquired:

· I'm gradually taking distance

· I can insert a rebound, vary the types of balls as well as their sizes, etc.

If my child can stand up, what could be better than playing ball with him:

· I put a framework to the activity with a visual support (small hoop, slab) for him and for me

· To use both hands, I take a small ball (not too hard)

· To use one hand, I take a ball (not too small)

· I can also vary the supports with small weighted sachets (sand, rice)

· I do not hesitate to insist on the opening of the hands when releasing the ball

· It is important to tell my child to watch the ball

At the same time, I can show my child how you catch the ball with the same steps, by standing close to him at the start, then I move away progressively.

I can also kick the ball, my child can then start to shoot in gently, then more and more strong (depending on his balance). I'm not asking him to aim yet!


I let my child choose the book he likes, even if it's always the same. I can leave it in his hand, leave him autonomous in manipulation it. He can decide what image he wants to look at and when to turn the page. I adapt to what interests him and I follow his rhythm.

I can, at first, simply name the image or make a related onomatopoeia (for example “moo” if there is a cow) by pointing to the image.

What skills can I stimulate with story reading?

· Language comprehension: I ask my child “Where is the…?” so that he points to the image.

· Expressive language: I ask the question “what is it?” by pointing to the image known by my child.

It is important to give the answer quickly if my child does not know it and that it is always the same (I avoid synonyms). Gradually, he will increase his repertoire of words in comprehension and expression.

I adjust my level of language to the level of my child’s (if he talks in isolated words, I say isolated words).


It is possible to play pretend games without specific equipment, with what we have at home: plastic boxes, shoe boxes, kitchen utensils, care items (brush, feeding bottle...).

Examples of pretend games for girls and boys:

- Dinner party (pretending to eat, to cook)

- Small cars (pretending to race, park cars, move on an itinerary, etc.)

- Toy phone (pretending to call someone)

- Handiwork (pretend to repair with a toy toolbox)

- Baby doll (give him food, change his diaper, hug him, brush his hair, etc.)

- Puppets or, failing that, drawing on the fingers (have them discuss, make them “top there”, make a hug, eat, etc.)

- Embody a character (playing doctor, mom, etc.), an animal (pretending to be a lion, a cat, etc.), with optional disguise/makeup.

· I can show the play material (or real material) to my child so that he understands the theme of the pretend play (the baby doll to play mom/dad).

· I can also take duplicate objects to encourage imitation (a spoon each, for example).

· I start with the activities that my child already knows in his daily life, it will be easier for him to imitate (cooking, brushing hair, tinkering, playing doctor, taking care of the baby).

· I play myself, I show him short and simple sequences (I carry the spoon of the plate to my mouth or to the mouth of the baby saying “yum yum”).

· I repeat these games daily before I can add variants or supplements.

· I tell you what I do or what my child does when we pretend to play.

- I can intervene verbally by saying:

- words (“cake”, “bottle”)

- onomatopoeias (“miam miam”, “yuck”, “oin oin”, “plouf”)

- sentences directly related to the actions in progress (“baby eats the cake”)

- more abstract comments (“the baby is hungry”, “he will take a bath afterwards”)

· I stimulate the capacities of imagination: symbolic representation skills are important for my child's intellectual and verbal development. When he plays pretend, he develops mental images, abstract representations. A baby doll represents a baby.



Here are activities in order of increasing difficulty:

These activities are to be suggested when my child no longer puts objects in his mouth. I remain vigilant in his manipulations.

· Make paper balls or tear the sheet

· Transfer (water, lentils, cubes, pearls, etc.) from one container to another

· Empty-fill: my child uses his hand and fingers to take the items (pearls, cube, etc.) one by one, to take them out or insert them in a container.

· Scribbling or painting with his fingers: I vary the supports (paper, cardboard, velleda board or blackboard), the tools (marker pen, colored pencil, brush, chalk, etc.) and the postures: standing, lying, sitting.

· Large pearls for the youngest, afterwards the size of the thread and pearl is reduced.

· Uncap - refill the felt: I let my child train to uncap - recap the felts

· Screw - unscrew the cap of a bottle

· Clothespin to be pinched on cardboard (without aligning with the colors at first)


The cubes (activities in order of complexity):

· Tap the cubes with each other

· Empty and fill a bucket with cubes

· Make a tower of cubes progressively taller

· Create a train by aligning the cubes

· Create a pyramid

· Etc.


· Assemble two legos between them

· Assemble several legos

· Assemble according to a model (real or image) in imitation

· Assemble to create an element with his imagination and invent a story

Trains and rails

· Assemble two rails

· Build a circuit with the rails

· Run the train on it

· Invent a story around the train (that enters the station, takes passengers, etc.)

What skills can I stimulate with construction toys?

· Fine motor skills, I let my child experience his fine manipulations

· Demand: to stimulate demand skills, I retain or keep an item that my child wants (without removing it) and I give it to him as soon as he asks.

Reminder: a request can be an eye contact, a verbalization, a gesture, a word, etc.

· Imitation with object: I make a construction as described above and encourage my child to do the same after me

· The turn “your turn, my turn”: for example, I bring down a cube tower and I rebuild it. I then ask my child to take turn to bring it down while saying “your turn”. I can help my child to build a cube tower by putting a cube alternately and saying “your turn”, “my turn”.

· The onomatopoeias that I can repeat: “badaboom” when the cube tower collapses, “tchoutchou” when we make a train with cubes or when we play with them on the rails.

· Comprehension: I accompany my gestures with words: “above” “inside”, “give”, “fallen”, “put inside”.

· Colors: I name the colors of the objects (pearl that I put on, cube that I stack, and marker that I use to draw).

· Teasing: We can laugh together by dropping the tower, breaking the constructions, pretending not to be able to do it, etc.

To get inspired or go further:



For children less than 12 months:


Motor pathway video :


Examples of motor pathways:


Nothing could be simpler than making a motor pathway with objects that I have at home! The goal is to let my child progress according to his motor level.

Motor stimulation should not burn the stages of the child's development.

With children less than 2 years old, I don't install too many items. I start with a chain of 3 or 4 elements.

I always do a demonstration before and I accompany my child during the passages.

If my child is comfortable, I take some distance but I stay close to him on the more complex elements.

If my child does not yet have motor imitation skills, I plan very simple movements that I can physically guide (do with him).

I do not hesitate:

· To vary the floors so that my child can feel the different textures and sensations. The advantage is that he remains in balance on all kinds of floors. I can use carpets (different thicknesses, cushions, quilts or blankets, bubble wrap, empty egg cartons...). If I'm lucky enough to have an outdoor space, I use everything around me (grass, sand, etc.).

· To vary the height (pass underneath, above, etc.) so that my child pushes on his legs or bends down. I can use a coffee table (go under, pay attention to the head), the sofa (climb in front, by the side and get out of it), the bed (climb, jump in the middle of the bed), climb on a bench and walk above, etc.

· To vary the distances, the use of certain supports makes it possible to take longer or wider steps. I can use cushions, flat cardboard, colored tape to make a line (1 to 2 meters long and 5 to 10 cm wide), I can make foot and hand prints.

· To vary the suggestions, walk sideways, backwards, run around the table (one turn max).

After 22 months, I can suggest him to jump up and down, make small jumps forward, or to jump from a specific height (from a child's chair). Reception may be offset between the two feet.

· I use my stairs if they are accessible. If my child does not walk or is not comfortable, he can climb the steps on all fours forward and descend them by backward all-fours.

After 18 months, if walking is acquired, my child can climb the steps with two supports (my two index fingers). It is advisable to simply extend the index fingers and not the hands, my child will be able to let them go by himself when he is safe. I don't put my index fingers above his eyes’ level (try to go up or down the stairs with arms outstretched, it's very difficult! 😉) and I try to always put my index fingers in front of him so that he can see them.

I secure my child to prevent him from falling.


· I choose music that we know and that we like.

· I propose simple and little varied gestures at the beginning.

· I prefer a short session and with movements that change regularly to avoid weariness.

· I alternate the moments when I imitate my child and other moments when it is up to him to imitate me.

· I can use accessories (disguise, maracas, etc.) to create a small dressing-undressing routine, before and after the dance, which promotes autonomy and fine motor skills.

· I can pause again by stopping the music so that my child requests the renewal or does the gestures that follow.


My child of less than two years old explores the world through his senses. Offering him sensory activities can be a source of pleasure but also a source of learning.

The suggestions are to be adapted according to the interests and sensory particularities of my child.

· The touching-everything: I install different objects and textures on the floor (sponge, paper, rough cloth, soft cloth, modeling clay, corks, seeds, etc.) and I let my child explore the objects with his hands.

· Massages: massage ideas in this video:


The right moments:

- when my child is relaxed, after the bath for example

- avoid before or after a meal

- my child should not be too upset

- I must be available and quiet

· Swings

I can use a sheet (like a hammock) to gently swing my child (with the help of someone else or not) or I can use my arms.

· The bath - The change - The care: I can use a routine where I show the different parts of the body (eyes, nose, mouth, feet etc.), so that he participates in the activity. The bath can be combined with a song (see 1. Nursery Rhymes).

· Water games: I can offer transfers during bath time, use water mills, floating toys, water books, watering cans or sprinklers.

· Sand or seed trays: I let my child touch, let go, play with the sand, I insert containers to make transfers.

· Music (also with objects): I offer musical instruments (drum, maracas, etc.) or household objects (shoebox, pots, bottles filled with water or rice, etc.) to make noise or sounds. I can train imitation, taking turns, listening, synchronization.

To make a musical instrument:


For additional ideas here:


And, I don't forget to give way to my creativity and my pleasure to interact with my child!

Translated by Stephanie Aoun

48 Boulevard Serurier, 75019  Paris France

©2020 by Dr. Benjamin Landman. Child Psychiatry, Robert Debre Hospital - Paris