As “social distancing” becomes a daily practice and “self isolating” a reality, we’re all going to be spending a lot more time at home. Even without the world-wide pandemic, having a baby means you’re often housebound, but now with your regular outings cancelled or ill-advised, it might be time to diversify your play repertoire. There’s only so much Peekaboo you (and your kid) can take. Lots of parents struggle with ways to play with their infant. Sure, Bluey has inspired a whole playbook of make-believe games for parents to get in on, but they require a kid who can talk. Play with a bub under one, or even two, is a little trickier, which is why we’re such huge fans of Happy Little People Card Decks. The deck delivers fifty-two activity ideas that promote bonding, motor skills, body awareness, auditory and language skills. Most require only ordinary household items and can be done without any set up. Inspired by these clever play cues, we’ve put together some game starters of our own so you can look forward to the awake windows, and make the most of your time at home.
Even young babies tire of seeing the same toys, but the kitchen is an untapped source of interesting objects. You might not believe it, but a whisk is fascinating to a four month old. Pull out some Tupperware for drums, utensils for drumsticks, spices for rattles and the stage is set. Put on some background music and encourage them to play along to the beat. Rock on!
Build a Fort or Obstacle Course
The enthusiasm for forts starts early. If your baby is still at that lovely lie-on-back stage, put a colourful tablecloth or sheet across two chairs and lie underneath together to look at the colours. If they are on the move, you could make a little obstacle course for them to crawl/walk/climb through to get to their toy-filled fort.
If bub loves a bath, you don’t have to reserve it for bedtime. Pop them in (you can get in too) and play with different wash clothes, buckets, bottles and bath toys. If it’s a hot day, you could set up a wet play station outside (on a non-slippery surface) with plastic cups and bowls and some utensils for mixing. Just make sure you stay with them at all times. Water play is a parent-supervised activity always.
Make a cosy nook and fill it with cushions and all your baby’s story books. Look through them together, read them aloud (with funny voices) or stack them up and knock them down.
If you have the time, it’s great to allow your baby opportunities to discover new foods, flavours and textures. Set them up in the highchair and try out some baby-led weaning style eating, or try out a new recipe.
OK, not a game as such, but if you need to get some chores done while you’re on babywatch, sorting drawers/cupboards/wardrobes is doable. Babies love pulling things out, and are fairly entertained when things they can touch are being put down, picked up and put away all around them. It might not be the most efficient way to get it done, but it will get it done.
The Julie Logan Music program, which holds music classes for kids from 3-months-old, recommends taking a moment with your baby to sit and listen to a piece of music. Soak it up and practice really listening. You could also hold your baby and march along to the music, or have a dance.
Need to get moving? There are numerous baby yoga classes online for you to try out. Load ‘em up and have a stretch.
Get in the Garden
If you’re lucky enough to have some outdoor space in your home, make the most of it. Fresh air does great things for people, big and small. Take your baby outside to touch the leaves, grass or dirt. You could go out and collect things in a bucket to examine together afterwards, or do some actual gardening together — watering, planting and even weeding.