I have worked professionally with little kids and babies for most of my career. I have lots of nieces and nephew. When I was a teenager, I babysat. I help in the church nursery, and I have two older kids. So, you’d think by my 3rd child, entertaining babies would be second nature.
As anyone who has cared for babies more than a few minutes knows, it takes creativity, a tolerance for repetition, observation skills, multitasking, and much more.
Here are the go-to activities I’ve found that are both engaging for Baby and maybe at least a little stimulating for me:
Rhymes and Bounces
During the first quarantine (whoa, two years ago?!) I made a whole series of videos with fun songs and rhymes and bounces to do with babies you can access here: Marion Public Library Baby Time Videos. Babies love repetition, so choose a few favorites to repeat over and over again. Add your own style!
Sing and Dance
Playing music that I like and having dance parties and singalongs as I hold or wear my baby around the house is a fun way to mix it up. Did the Super Bowl Halftime Show inspire anyone else to go a little old school with your playlists? If you want to keep it a little more G-rated, some of my favorite kids artists are Laurie Berkner, Kira Willey, and Elizabeth Mitchell.
The Parent Education Consortium is a local organization specifically for families with kids under 5 that provides classes and playgroups in our area. Here are some tips they have for playing with your babies. The most helpful thing I’ve done is to slow down and really notice my baby’s cues. What does he find interesting? Is he being silly and smiley or quiet and observant?
There are also plenty of times I lay him on the playmat and stick a few toys around him so I can switch over laundry or help his big brothers. I remind myself that those moments are good too because they build independence and let Baby explore without my interference. That said, I am really trying to make a connection, stay focused, and follow his lead at least a few moments throughout the day.
It’s finally starting to get a little nicer outside! I’m so excited to strap my baby on in a carrier or bust out my stroller and walk around the block or down a trail and get some fresh air. Walks are a great time to talk to baby and let them observe new things. They’re also great for my mental health to get my body moving.
I’ve also been trying to work in some yoga for Baby and myself. I’m already feeling stronger, and it’s another way to make meaningful connections with Baby. If you’re interested in participating in a class, I’ve been attending Postpartum Yoga at Toula Yoga, and I’m teaching a Baby + Me Yoga class at Vella Yoga in April.
I keep a few baskets and bins with a couple toys and at least one or two board books strewn about my house. I can grab a book whenever it seems like Baby would be into it. Books are part of our daily routine usually right before naps and bedtime. But I also like to reach for books during quiet moments, goofy playtime, or even fussy times when it seems like he needs a change of pace. If we start a book and it’s not going well, I set it aside and wait for another moment to try again. I want Baby to have positive associating with reading, so I don’t force it.
What are your go to activities with your baby? Share with us on our social media!
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