Ok moms, here’s the scoop. I know you are wondering, how in the world will you keep your rambunctious toddler occupied while they recover from heart surgery? Here’s a breakdown of my favorite toddler toys for the hospital. These are the items we used the most while my son was recovering from his Fontan surgery at age 3 and a half. Some of these toys have an added therapeutic bonus of even helping speed up recovery!

Mess-free art

Mess free art activity book
Special ink marker and activity book.
Mess free water color toddler toy for the hospital.
Reusable water color activity book.

Both of these are great for ages 2-7 and easy to do in bed. The Imagine Ink comes with it’s own marker that only colors in this special book. Some books have games for children, but even young toddlers would enjoy seeing the pages come to life with bright colors. And at only $5.99 it’s cheap entertainment!

The Water Wow has a brush you fill with tap water that can be refilled. There are “eye spy” games inside the book as well as pages to color. The best part is, the pages dry in just a few minutes and can be colored again and again. Single books are sold for $4.99 or sets of multiples are also available. Fun designs include: dinosaurs, farm animals, princesses, under the sea, and more. Our son still plays with this toy even after coming home from the hospital.

Reusable Stickers

Puff sticker toddler activity
Reusable puff sticker book.

These Melissa and Doug puff sticker books are amazing. For $6.99, each themed book comes with 100 reusable stickers and multiple pages with scenes to stick them to. It makes for a great toddler toy for the hospital! My son had so much fun making up stories with his pirate themed one. His was a larger one-page ship scene but similar to the books. They also have fun dress-up, princess, and mermaid ones for the girly girls in your life too! The puff stickers can be removed and re-stuck multiple times.

Magnetic dress up

Magnetic dress up toddler toy
Sturdy magnetic dress up set with organizer box.

Melissa and Doug does it again with this awesome wooden magnetic dress up set. The dolls stand up in the wooden tray and have multiple wooden clothing options and accessories to mix and match. The set is hardy unlike paper doll sets of the past. And as an added bonus, everything can be organized and stay contained in the tray. The also have a Joey dress up set that is career and superhero themed.

Therapeutic Toddler Toys for the Hospital

Bubble trumpet toddler toy for the hospital
Bubble trumpet fro Amazon.

Blowing bubbles is a great way to help you kiddo work towards fully expanding their lungs after surgery. They may not be excited about deep breathing exercises but this flower-shaped bubble trumpet will make therapy a little more fun. Taking deep breaths helps clear fluid from the lungs and fosters a faster recovery.

Piano toddler toy for the hospital
Floor piano from Amazon.

Okay, so your toddler is probably not going to be jumping around on this piano like these girls. BUT, having some motivation to get up and walk around may go a long way. My son smiled so much the first time he played this piano with his feet in his little no-slip hospital socks. His physical therapist was thrilled to have him up and walking even just for short periods. Moving around and walking soon after heart surgery can help excess fluid drain off and speed up recovery time.

So pretty much any toddler toy can be a “therapeutic” toy in the hospital as long as it gets your child up and out of bed. My son Calvin LOVES trains. He particularly loves playing with our next door neighbor’s little boy and his train set. The night before Calvin’s surgery his little friend Blake brought a section of his train set over to our house to give to us to take the hospital. So sweet!

This train was probably Calvin’s biggest motivator to get out of bed. He needed to move around a bit to help get all the little pockets of fluid out and this train with just the ticket! We made him a little palate on the floor and he got out of bed to do his train a couple times per day.

Little boy playing with toy train in the hospital.
Calvin playing train on the floor 6 days after Fontan heart surgery.

Packing and Preparing

Toddler playing with his toys in the hospital.
Calvin with his mini Paw Patrol prizes on day 3 post Fontan.

I was a little concerned before my son’s surgery about how I would keep him entertained in bed. I searched high and low for appropriate toddler toys for the hospital. As it turned out, he was perfectly happy lying in bed. We actually spent more time encouraging him to move and walk than we did trying to keep him still!

In addition to these toys, I also brought a tablet loaded with a few movies and some of his favorite shows. The hospital also had an assortment of toys that could be brought to the room. A few times we even ventured out to the toy room once he was more mobile. Pro tip: I packed and wrapped little prizes for him to open from time to time. He loved having a little surprise to open after a poke or dressing change.

Also read: Preparing Your Toddler for Heart Surgery