What Do I Do to Entertain My Baby? 8 Tips to Help
Often, in those early days of infancy, in between the feedings and the changings and the sleepings, it’s easy to wonder “What do I do with this baby?” Especially for caregivers who aren’t familiar or comfortable with the baby phase, how to keep an infant entertained can seem a daunting challenge. After all – what can you really do with someone who can’t focus their eyes, sit up on their own, or communicate their thoughts?
It’s easy to overlook the fact that their limited exposure to the world is actually an advantage. Everything is new and potentially interesting, so incorporating play into your daily tasks can be rather simple. And they don’t demand complicated games or stories that make sense – they just crave your presence and attention.
Here are 8 simple tips for playing with your baby.
Cooking Class: While they’re not yet ready to serve as official taste-tester, babies can still enjoy time in the kitchen. (As a reminder – never place babies in chairs onto counters, it just isn’t safe! A highchair, seat on the floor, or even a backpack-style carrier can all be safer options.) The sounds and smells of a meal being prepared stimulate their senses. While you’re cooking, talk to baby about what you’re doing. Whether it’s telling him about the recipe you’re making, handed down from your grandmother or simply reciting things out loud as you go (Next we need one cup of sugar. Sugar is sweet – like you!) the sound of your voice will help baby feel included as you work.
Fun while Folding: Laundry. Chances are, you’re doing a lot of laundry with a little one in the house. Little ones can curl up in a clothes pile while you work. The process of folding clothes can stimulate the senses – the colors of the shirts, the rush of air as you shake out a towel, the requisite game of peek-a-boo as you lift and drop a blanket. Again – you can talk with baby as you go, about the colors, textures, and use for different items. (Feel this soft blanket. Look, it’s daddy’s blue shirt!)
Dance with Me: As any mother who has rocked and bounced and driven in circles can tell you – babies love motion and find it soothing. You can always cradle baby in your arms, but this is a spot where babywearing works especially well. Put on some tunes and scoop or sling your little one. You can dance and bounce around the living room, but you can also work in some time to straighten up the house or make some phone calls while you move and groove with your little one.
Stretch, Pedal, and Tickle: Lay baby on a blanket and help him get moving. Gently hold his hands while you move his arms above his head, out to the side, and around. Give those adorable toes a little squeeze and pedal his legs (this one is also great for gassy babies!). Gentle massage and tickles from the bottoms of his feet to the top of his head can offer fun for both of you.
Face Time: Tummy time is recommended for all infants, but it’s often not very well received by the participants. For something different, place baby onto your chest and talk to him or sing songs. When your voice encourages him to lift his head, he’ll be rewarded with a glance at your smile. The physical contact and closeness can make tummy time a more pleasant experience for everyone.
Read Aloud: At this point, your infant isn’t able to demand that you read Hop on Pop for the 34982 time. He just likes to hear your voice. So if you’ve been up late with your little night owl and are desperate to read that book on infant sleep, go for it. It’s more about inflection – how you say it – than it is about content – what you say. So read whatever you like, just read it out loud.
Sing a Song: Whether it is a lullaby at bedtime or a little Katy Perry in the car, go ahead and belt it out. Your baby isn’t going to judge your pitch; they just like the familiar sound of your voice. This one comes in handy when you’re sneaking in a shower with a fussy baby waiting impatiently. Bring a bouncy chair into the bathroom and put on an impromptu concert while you shampoo.
Take a Break: You don’t have to be “on” for all your infant’s waking hours. Just as adults can benefit from some downtime, infants need a balance of stimulation and quiet time to process their environment. If your baby is awake and content, it’s perfectly alright to let him hang out in his crib or in another safe spot while you get some well-deserved time for yourself.
Share in the comments – what is your favorite way to entertain your baby?
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