It goes without saying that tiny children of under three will need to grow easy plants if you want to keep them interested in gardening. They are still developing the motor skills and necessary sense of responsibility to plant and care for a garden. Nonetheless, certain easy to grow plants will get your toddler excited to be a gardener.
What toddlers really like is mud, water, being outdoors, touching things and foraging.
Toddler gardening activities must be geared towards fulfilling these toddler needs.
You will not have tidy rows of lettuce and unpicked flowers in a toddler garden but you will have a happy toddler.
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Planting Activities for Toddlers
Gardening with your toddler is a holistic activity which should incorporate sensory garden experiences with fun and gentle learning.
Equipment for your Gardening Toddler
Toddlers learn by example and love to mimic you. This means that everything you have, they will want too. They should have a toddler size spade, rake, garden broom and watering can. Check out which gardening set for toddlers is best or our best picks for gardening gifts for kids. We have reviewed all the latest and popular products on the market.
Another absolute must is a small wheelbarrow or wagon. Of course, the chances are that they will prefer your garden tools to their own but, because of the safety risk, you should encourage them to use their own toddler-sized tools.
A sun hat and sunblock are also absolute musts, as gardening can be very exposed, even under the trees.
Gumboots and a waterproof jacket are important in rainy or cold weather.
Exciting and Easy Plants to Grow with Toddlers
Toddlers love plants that bear fruit like strawberries, blueberries and gooseberries. Grow veggies that are easy to pick, like snap peas, carrots and cherry tomatoes.
A popular choice is bright happy-looking flowers that can take a bit of manhandling, (or toddler handling). Toddlers can’t resist picking brightly coloured flowers.
Interesting tasting and aromatic herbs like dill, fennel, rosemary, mint and coriander are very exciting for toddlers, who are always keen to help mum or dad preparing the meals in the kitchen.
What are the Easiest Seeds to Grow?
The easiest seeds to grow are nasturtiums, coriander, beans and sunflowers. They are all large, easily handled seeds which germinate quickly. Radishes are also quick growing and are hardy enough to cope when little feet walk on them, accidentally of course!
Sensory Gardening Experiences for Children
It’s so important that gardening is fun. If a child learns to love gardening from 2 years of age, then he or she will have a lifetime of pleasure and reward. Children can learn alot from a sensory garden. Learn more on how to create a children’s sensory garden here.
Mud and Water
You won’t have to teach a child to love the soil if you mix a bit of water with it and create mud. Almost all children love squishy mud between fingers and toes. If you choose hardy plants then a bit of judicious overwatering won’t harm them. Watering time can always end up with some fun in the sprinkler too.
Water has an important place in a toddler garden. Position a birdbath or little hollow stones and fill them with water for the birds. Dig some furrows and run water along them.
Obviously ponds and streams are not safe for toddlers but supervised water play is both calming and fun and should be part of every planting activity with toddlers.
As the wind whistles gently through reeds and trees, it makes a soothing sound and creates interesting leaf patterns on the ground.
Use the wind to make music and patterns for your toddlers. Make or buy wind chimes, and strings of beads and sun catchers and hang them in your toddler garden for your toddler to enjoy.
Toddlers love foraging, flitting from bush to bush picking berries and tomatoes. They love pushing a wheelbarrow or carrying a small basket with produce intended for supper. Under twos won’t reliably get the produce home though!
Picking flowers for Granny is a time-honoured toddler tradition, so grow lots of happy flowers with bright faces and amazing colours.
While your toddler is foraging, you can spend a restful half-hour in a deckchair, enjoying your tea. Nothing distracts a happy forager.
This is also a great time for pointing out bees, butterflies and other little creatures. A garden is an ecosystem and you can take the opportunity to teach your toddler to respect his fellow-creature and garden gently.
There can be no place for chemicals and poisons in a toddler garden. Their exciting and easy plants will have to be grown with love and sound organic principles.
Creating a New World through Toy Gardens
Little children of all ages love fairy gardens but these might be too delicate for a toddler. These little people are still quite rough with toys. For the older kids, you might be interested in our DIY fairy garden for kids.
It’s a good plan to create a toy garden for a toddler. Make robust paths of building blocks. Bring toy cars and tractors, washable soft teddies and push and pull toys out to enjoy in the garden.
Put up a tent, bought or homemade, pack a picnic basket and prepare to enjoy your toddler garden after the gardening “work” is done for the day.
Planting activities with Toddlers can be a lifeline for tired parents as a toddler is never happier than in a garden and, as they can’t be left unsupervised, it’s an ideal time for parents to relax and enjoy some peaceful outdoor time themselves.