Toys for Kids in Waiting Rooms

by SusanM

Which toys are best for keeping kids happy in a waiting room?

Sitting in a waiting room for a health appointment is boring for adults. The magazines are often old (and if you've been to the health professional before you've probably already read them on your last visit).

Waiting rooms are even more boring for kids. It's a place where they need to be quiet. They need to stay seated and not run around. But there's nothing to do. It's even worse if they need to to have a needle or something else they don't want because there's nothing to distract them in a waiting room.

So to make things easier here's some toys for kids in waiting rooms.

Magnetic Play for the Waiting Room

Playboards are a good idea for kids from 3 years up to about 7. Kids love "sticker" books and these are very similar to sticker books except they can be reused again and again.

Playboards let your child have some pretend play time without taking up any room or needing to carry lots of toys. They are also a quiet toy that can be played with in different ways to keep your child entertained while they wait. 

Play boards come in both felt and magnetic styles. Felt boards can be great for kids who are sick in hospital. But the magnetic boards are better for a waiting room. This is because the magnetic pieces are harder to lose in a waiting room than the lighter felt pieces. 

Pictured: Farm Playboard

Magnetic Playboards

Low mess and easy to take to the doctor's
Farm Playboard
Patch Products
Enchanted Kingdom Playboard
Patch Products Lauri, Inc.
Create-A-Scene: Construction Site
Smethport Specialty Co.

I loved magic ink books as a child - especially the Yes & No puzzle books.

Magic ink (also called invisible ink) books are light and easy to carry with you.

They have a novelty feel to them that captures kids attention.

They encourage quiet play and keep children in their seat. 

Magic painting books can be used by younger children 3 years and up. The puzzle books are better for older kids from about 7 to 8 years and older. 

Invisible Ink Books

Keeps your child busy while waiting
Invisible Ink Yes & Know


View on Amazon

Toy Story Invisible Ink Book


View on Amazon

Classic Toys for the Waiting Room

There are some great classic toys that work well for children who need to wait quietly. 

Kaleidoscopes are a fun toy that can be popped into a bag. They're especially good for kids 3 to 6 years of age who love watching the changing colors and patterns. 

Etch A Sketches are another classic toy that are  still popular with kids. (The pocket size version is best for carrying with you to use in waiting rooms.) But remember an Etch A Sketch needs good hand eye coordination to create drawings on it. So even though it's recommended from or ages 3 or 4 and up some younger children might find an Etch A Sketch difficult to use. This will frustrate them and will not help you keep your child happy, busy and quiet in a waiting room. 

The Doodle Pro is a good option for all ages. It doesn't need the coordination of an Etch A Sketch and can be used for drawing anything. So it's suited to preschoolers and older kids. The travel version is handy and easy to take along with you too. 

Pictured: One of the many colorful patterns inside the kaleidoscope. You can find kaleidoscopes at Amazon.

Popular Classic Toys

Easy to take with you to an appointment
Fisher-Price Travel Doodle Pro
Pocket Etch A Sketch
Ohio Art
Classic Tin Kaleidoscope
Schylling Associates Inc.

Classic Play Idea

The book Cat's Cradle is popular with girls age 6 and up. It's also a good choice for a waiting room because it's easy to carry around.

There are lots of string activities in the book to keep them busy. There is also a certain amount of skill needed to make the string shapes. This means they will need to concentrate. Concentrating will distract them from the appointment and having to wait around. 

Creative String Play

Entertains kids anywhere
Cat's Cradle: A Book of String Figures (Book and String)

Good Puzzles for Waiting Rooms

Puzzles are another good way to keep kids concentrating on a game. This makes the waiting time feel shorter and distracts them from the appointment they are waiting for. 

There are lots of puzzles available. But it's best to buy puzzles that don't have loose pieces that can be lost. Sliding puzzles are a good type of puzzle that are small to carry and safe from having pieces lost. Kids also like sliding puzzles because of the sliding pieces. These feel more of a novelty than ordinary jigsaw puzzles. Sliding puzzles are usually fairly small and made of light plastic so they are easy to carry around too. 

The Mummy Mystery and Chicken Shuffle shown here are for children 6 years and up. The Rush Hour Jr. puzzle is for kids 6 to 8 years old but there's a version for older children too. 

If you are a health professional looking for ideas for your waiting room these puzzles are also a good idea because they can be easily cleaned for waiting room hygiene. They will also help to keep older children happy - avoiding the common problem of waiting rooms only have toys for the youngest children.

Pictured: Mummy Mystery Puzzle available from Amazon.

Puzzle Ideas

Easy to take to appointments so kids don't get board
ThinkFun Rush Hour Jr.
Chicken Shuffle
Smart Games/Tangoes USA
Maze Ways Mummy Mystery
Educational Insights

If you have more than one school aged child this flip game set is a good way to keep them busy. The set has: 

  • Flip To Win Memory Game
  • Flip To Win Hangman
  • Flip To Win Bingo

The flip style means there are no pieces to lose and it's easy to toss them in a bag to take with you. You can entertain two children at the same time without having to take double toy supplies too. 

This set is also a nice idea for health professionals to pop in their waiting room for children to play with.

Travel Games

Especially good for more than one child
Travel Flip Game Set
Melissa & Doug

Picking Toys for Your Waiting Room?

If you are a health professional buying toys for your waiting room don't make the mistake most professionals make. Don't just have toys for toddlers. Preschool and school aged kids get bored too. It's a nice touch to have toys available for children at least up to 8 or 9 years of age. It makes your waiting room far more welcoming for them. It also shows you care about the children in your waiting room and aren't just throwing in a few token toys to keep the toddlers busy. 

Updated: 09/04/2012, SusanM
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