Many new mothers are unsure about what activities are appropriate, if any, for their baby and so the question, ‘What activities can I do with my baby?’ is often asked. Never fear; here are 25 things you can do with your baby to provide entertainment, stimulation and education even from a very early age.
I know I was very confused as to the amount of interaction and activity I should be doing with my newborn daughter. Really the only advice and information I had access to then (before the internet provided us with such a plethora of information of so many topics) was from my own mother. As well meaning and wonderful as she was, she was from an era when babies were left alone much more than is now recognized by child psychologists and pediatricians as being beneficial.
Eventually, I did find my own way; I have raised three well-adjusted, delightful and independent children; I guess I must have done something right! So, here are some of the things I did with my babies, to keep them amused and happy.
I think the most important thing to do is be observant; watch your baby and gauge the reaction you get to a wide variety of everyday things that you do. You will soon learn what pleases them and what they find boring; babies have an amazing way of expressing their displeasure so you should be in no doubt whatever, if they don’t like something.
My main tactic was to keep my daughter with me whenever she was awake, although I also found that she responded well to being allowed to just be quietly on her own as well for short periods. Over-stimulating will just make a baby fractious and unhappy, so keep activities short and gentle, especially in the first three or four months. You will soon learn to recognize the signs when baby has had enough!
So, I would move baby around from room to room as I did the housework, talking to her about what I was doing. Sometimes I would leave the room and baby, continuing to chatter away from another room and then reappear. Anyone eavesdropping on my home in those early days would have wondered what was going on, as I described how and why we sweep or fold laundry or go into the bathroom!
Music is a great activity to share with your baby. Babies and young children love rhythm and repetitive words so it really doesn’t matter if you are a good singer or not. Make up words to your favorite tunes; play your favorite DVD or a children’s DVD; hum or sing la-la-la; it will all be music to the baby’s ears.
As well as listening to the music, babies love to move to the beat. Dance around the room or sway from side to side while holding baby in different positions, making sure you support the head and spine properly; jiggle baby on your knee (gently for a very young one, of course); do the actions to a children’s rhyme with the baby; beat a rhythm on the floor, wall or (if you’re really game) on a pot from the kitchen. I believe that these types of musical activities were largely responsible for the love of music all my children developed; they all play musical instruments today.
Provide entertainment for your baby when lying in their crib with mobiles, simple pictures on the ceiling or walls, crib toys stretched across within their line of sight, or just a lamp that throws shadows on the walls. Keep it simple and alternate different activities every few days to prevent boredom and give a variety of different experiences. Don’t think you have to go out and buy expensive toys and mobiles. You can make some wonderful ones yourself, often using things you already have around the house.
The same applies to when baby is having some floor time. Make a colorful rug for baby to lie on and include a variety of different textures for a tactile experience. Put simple toys just out of reach so baby has to stretch to get them and learn about effort and reward. A simple book using different fabrics and textures can easily be sewn up on a sewing machine to provide hours of exploration and learning. Lie on the floor with them to play and talk.
Carry baby out into the garden to see the plants move, to touch leaves and bark and to feel the wind on their skin. Walk down the street for variety. Let him experience lying on grass, feeling the pavement or the sand in a sandpit.
Trial and error will show you the best activities to do with your baby; use your imagination and be constantly on the lookout for something new and different. Remember, it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive; often the simplest things are the most effective and beneficial.