Thursday, 22 November 2012

10 Ideas for Entertaining Your Baby

  1. Old CDs stuck to the side of a cupboard or box next to where baby spends time will reflect light and be endlessly entertaining. In fact, anything shiny is sure to be a winner. Just make sure it’s safe.
  2. If you are able to sit and supervise baby, they seem to be quite enthralled with the noise made by the plastic windows in envelopes. This one kept S entertained for over an hour.
baby playing with envelope

  1. I read about treasure boxes on The Imagination Tree and made one for S; she loves to rummage through it and pick out random items to explore. The idea is that you use them for heuristic play, so fill them with household items made from materials other than plastic - stuff that reflects or bangs or rattles or feels different in their hands. At the moment it contains:
          • a paper plate
          • a CD
          • a loo roll holder
          • a tin lid
          • some brightly coloured material
          • some metal spoons
          • a wooden spoon
          • a scrunched up piece of silver foil
          • some random rock samples I was sent as part of an OU course

treasure box for baby

  1. Music! I used to think S loved to watch the children’s TV station, until I realised she just liked the music. Now she listens to Radio 3 (more melodious music, usually less talking) and loves it. Sometimes we will put local radio on instead and dance around the living room to some cheesy tunes.
  2. Go on a tour of the house. This is a good one to do if you’ve been sitting in the living room for a while and baby is getting a bit grumpy. I take S into the kitchen and we say hello, then to the front door, the stairs, the bedroom, take a look out the window and say hello to the people out there, stop and say hi to her cot mobile, maybe play with a toy on the bed for a little while, say hello to the baby in the mirror, and then head back to the living room, saying hi or bye to the rooms and objects again as we pass.
  3. When S was very small, she used to cry whenever I changed her nappy. I read somewhere that babies like high-contrast images, especially simple pictures of faces, and so one evening I got out my pens and some postcards and made up some pictures to stick on the wall next to her changing mat. To be honest, I didn't expect it to work, but until she was about 5 months old, she would happily stare at the pictures on the wall whenever her nappy was changed - though I did change them every month or so to avoid her getting bored.
baby likes bright bold patterns on wall

  1. Explore different textures. I went through my old scraps of material, and bought some remnants from a fabric shop, to find different styles and textures of material. I’m sure you’ve already noticed babies love the feel of label tags on everything they touch, but as they get older they will be interested in other textures too, especially if they have different colours or patterns as well.
  2.  Plastic bottles! I got this idea from my 2-year-old nephew, who's always had a thing for plastic drinks bottles. I finished a drink the other day and handed S the empty bottle, to see what happened... turns out she's just as enthralled as her cousin. I'd seen a few different variations of things to put into plastic bottles, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Seriously, this one is so easy: you fill the bottle with liquid, and then you put some stuff in it.
plastic bottles filled with coloured, glittery water
§   I used water in mine, but you could pop to Poundland and get some bubble bath instead. If you use water, you can put some glycerine in it - this makes the water more gloopy, so that whatever stuff you put in it moves around more slowly. 
§   I put red food colouring into one of my bottles. I used gel colouring, because it was all I had, and it left a few lumps in there so I guess if you didn't want lumps you could use liquid colour.
§   The other day whilst rummaging through a cupboard I found some of those little silver balls you use to decorate cakes... They were a good six months out of date, so I couldn't really put them on a cake so I used them in this project instead, and put half into each bottle. The silver colour came off of them and floated in the water, and the sugar balls dissolved into the water.
§   I also had some out of date glitter writing icing tubes, so I squeezed them into the bottles too, which made them all glittery and pretty.
§   In an act of selflessness rarely seen before or since, I ate a bunch of chocolate coins, and put the scrunched up wrappers into the red bottle.
§   In the white bottle, I put the beads from two old bracelets.
§   With this sort of project, the world is your oyster. You can use whatever you have lying around - pieces of foam, plastic, glitter, pasta shapes... And it's dirt cheap, so you can make as many different ones as you want and change them over as often as you like. Winner!
  1. Peep-o. The old ones really are the best. You can play this game with a baby for as long as you have the patience, either hiding behind something or draping a light cloth or blanket over baby and exclaiming "Where's baby gone?!"
  2. One of S's favourite things at the moment is to watch me wave my arms around and pull a face, or simply shaking my head. I get a good workout every afternoon jumping up and down and waving my arms whilst pulling faces at her whilst she giggles away at what an idiot she has for a mother.
I'm sure there are a million other things you can do with a baby that don't involve TV or expensive toys; please feel free to add yours in the comments. 
I may well collect up some more as I go along to make another post on the subject some time in the future.

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