I’ve had more moms and caregivers helplessly look at me and softly ask, as if embarrassed for anyone to overhear, “Not much you can do with a baby in the winter. Days are so long. What do you do with them in the winter? ”
The sheer horror on the adult’s face, as if they somehow feel a tinge of failure, when I respond, “Oh there’s lots of things!” causes me to spill out only one or two ideas, not wanting to give an itinerary.
Fact is, my theatre (and tv) production background is quite helpful in the childcare industry and I’m able to create ideas at the drop of a hat, entertaining babbling babies.
So while you avoid the cold outdoors try some of these things and have no fear, ‘Becca’ nanny is always here.
1. Mall Business: Sadly in some areas malls are disappearing but, if you have one near your neck of town, it’s a great place to walk around with baby. Always engage: point out lights, decorations, people watching, go into stores and tell them about the things you like. Allow them to feel different fabrics on clothes (sensory enhance) and in addition your mall might even have a play area for babies on the move. (bring sanitizing wipes)
2. Library fun: The library has truly become one of my best friends. Every library system that I have searched, when in need, has some kind of children’s programs. Google the library system in your area and check their events page, find which library (or libraries) in the system offer baby story time. Sometimes they also offer events like music, sensory play and yoga. (This is a great way to socialize baby too.) A lot of the libraries also have play areas in their children’s book section and… books! Great place to pop a squat (or grab a chair) and read, point out items in pictures and allow them to explore. If you’re willing to drive thirty minutes out of your jurisdiction to another branch of library you could probably schedule a library event everyday of the week.
3. Read! As I mentioned in number two, read, read, read. Did I mention read? While books are abundance at the library it’s something great to do at home too. During tummy time is another great opportunity to slide a book down and point out the pictures. When baby gets a little older they might want to try to engage by turning pages before words are read or hold the book, don’t get frustrated, baby is still learning in this way. You can even grab another book while baby plays with book number one. Fun game for baby. Remember when reading to tell them numbers, colors, make vehicle and animals sounds and even turn the book into a fun song! (Don’t worry, they are too young to tell you your singing is bad)
4. Dance! What’s more fun other than singing for someone that won’t hold their ears shut? Dancing. You don’t have to be good either. Use the assistance of the tv with shows like CocoMelon and BabyBum or choose Kids Songs on your Bluetooth device. Depending on baby’s age is how freely you can be when dancing. Younger babies, hold baby close and move around. As they get older you can dip them or hold them and let them bounce back and forth from knees. Sometimes you can even allow baby to observe your dancing! Have fun cutting Footloose!
5. Musical Instruments: Music is an important instrument to baby’s learning (pun intended). Pots and pans are great sets of drums, coffee cans, beans or rice in plastic eggs are creative ways for egg shakers. Remember how kids use to get into cabinets and drawers before baby proofing? Well to bide time allow them to get in the cabinets that hold the pots and plastic and hand them a ladle and spatula. If you need to, buy ear plugs before hand… because baby is going to have a blast!
6. Cook: While it’s dangerous to get baby too close to hot things (foods, stove, boiling water…), baby will be mentally stimulated by the sensory of cooking. You can allow baby to play with measuring cups and mixing spoons while communicating what ingredients you are adding in the bowl. You can even add ladles and spatulas to pots and pans. Dried rice and beans (a good time to teach ‘not in the mouth’) and if there’s snow outside, bring it inside! Don’t forget the food coloring when your really want to amaze the wee one.
7. Make A Mess Day: It’s fun to let them have an actual ‘make a mess day.’ And the wee one will most likely love it. Think colored shaving cream (or yogurt if the hands still go in the mouth a lot), flour, water and salt dough. Once baby nears the first year, it’s fun to let them explore with washable paints too. Don’t forget to get those foot prints for seasonal creations. I suggest using tarp around the play area for easier clean up. (I use dollar tree table cloths).
8. Clean up: After a messy day it only makes sense to clean up and the young one would love to help. Besides, this is a good lesson to start teaching baby. Strap the baby to your body and get to sweeping (or vacuuming) and sing the clean up song while you explain what your doing. If they are a little older you can “share duties” with an extra broom or wet cloth. Show them cleaning up can be fun too!
9. Outings: Sometimes we just need to get out of the house and take a break for being the subject of entertainment. In these moments it’s worth the coin to spend on a children’s play area. Google can help you find these establishments in your neighborhood. Usually children under two are free and an area is set aside for your wee one to safely explore. It’s also easy to follow the ‘mall idea’ in number one and take them to places such as Target (Toys-r-us use to be my favorite) and show them toys on display. V-tech and Fischer Price make some great light and sound toys and it also will give you some wonderful future gift ideas!
10. Bath time: It doesn’t need to be set aside for night time (on make a mess days it’s the easiest way to clean baby up) and the more exposing your little one to water will make them feel more comfortable come summer time in the pool. Fact is, water play, in or out of the tub, keeps little ones busy for a loooooooong time and in the tub makes a lot less mess to mop up later. You can keep for longer play with toys, shaving cream, color soap tablets and bath crayons.
The best activity for you will be rest! Once your little one passes out from a day full of mental stimulation they will be ready for a good, long nap. “Helloooooo self time!” Whatever you choose to do, know it’s well deserved and some quiet is in your mist.