Growing Up is Hard to Do (For Parents)

Until I had my own children, I never fully understood the term “bittersweet.” Watching them hit new milestones are events worth celebrating; however, I also feel that little twinge of sadness as they are one step closer to adulthood.

I personally find the toddler stage in particular to be bittersweet personified: my once snuggly little baby is now a walking, talking little child with a blossoming personality.

While the toddler stage has its own set of challenges (flashback to sweating while manipulating car seats), it also provides many opportunities for interactive learning and play.

As your little baby now matures into a toddler, she can now feed the animals, draw a picture or pick flowers. The swings can swing higher, the slides can slide faster and the giggles grow louder.

toddler

Free/Affordable Ways to Get Out and Play with Toddlers

Ready to embark on a bit of pint-sized fun, but don’t know where to start?

We’ve rounded up the best age-appropriate activities to engage your little one around Kalamazoo. Whether you want to bring the brood outdoors or stay inside, we’ve found all-season options.

The activities listed are either free (as noted) or priced under ten dollars. As always, it’s best to confirm pricing and other details before heading out, as they are subject to change. 

It’s Toddler Time – Nature, Museum, Craft, Learning and Sporting Activities

Storytimes

Whether you’re located in Kalamazoo, Portage, Plainwell or beyond, your local library is storytime central. Check our events calendar for times.

Independently owned Bookbug is a kids-only bookstore with storytimes on Thursday mornings. Parent tip: Waterstreet Coffee is located in the same parking lot if you’d like a hot beverage en route.

Barnes & Noble in both Battle Creek and Portage hosts storytimes on weekdays and Saturdays; these often include a craft and snack.

Arts & Music

Stop by Old Dog Tavern on Saturday mornings for educational music from Benjammin. Tiny, aspiring musicians are frequently welcomed on stage to join the band.

Experience West African culture while you drum and dance with Rootead’s family playgroups.

Build your own birdhouse, sign or other craft at Home Depot’s Kids Workshops. Hands-on DIY workshops run the first Saturday morning of each month. Register online.

Get crafty with Michael’s Kids Club on Saturday mornings in Battle Creek or Portage.

Create your own custom candle at Kalamazoo Candle Company’s Kids’ Day Out, complete with custom label and fragrance.

Museums

Kalamazoo Valley Museum offers Circle Time for ages 3-5; stop in for twenty minutes of interactive learning. Afterward, get ready to explore the many hands-on learning stations inside the Children’s Landscape.

Visit Kingman Museum in Battle Creek on the weekend. Investigate dinosaurs, outer space, and our own planet Earth.

The Air Zoo is not just for big kids; this world-renowned air and space museum has plenty for little ones to do and offers FREE admission for kids 4 and under!

Sports & Fitness

Soccer fans will enjoy Toddler Open Play on Mondays and Wednesdays at Kingdom Sports. For an hour before lunch, your little kicker can run around a large, indoor soccer field.

Drop-in at Kids Gym, Inc. for tumble fun during Saturday Open Gym (offered September – May).

Gymnastics

Just Move Fitness hosts fitness playdates for toddlers at both their gym and incorporated with storytimes at the Portage Library.

Bounce and climb on giant inflatables inside Jungle Joes Family Fun Center during open bounce time.

Jump on indoor trampolines without the big kids during designated Toddler Time at Skyzone. Be sure to check their calendar for themed events.

Animals & Nature

Walk the trails, bird watch, and feed the fish at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery in Mattawan.

Ready to swing, slide or climb? There is no shortage of Toddler-Friendly Playgrounds in the Kalamazoo area.

The Kalamazoo Nature Center is an ideal destination for toddlers. Visit Animal Encounters on Wednesday mornings and hike the trails afterward. Did you know they have farmyard animals in the summer? You can pay them a visit at DeLano Farms.

The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary is home to rescued birds of prey (owls, hawks, eagles) and waterfowl that you can feed. Stop by the visitor’s center and grab a bucket of corn to feed the geese, ducks and swans.

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