Ever feeling stuck with how to entertain your baby when you’re at home? Being a first-time mum during the first lockdown in April 2020 meant that I had very few plans with my little one. No play dates, hardly any parent and baby groups, no family meet-ups. This meant that a lot of our time was spent playing at home. My daughter had quite a few toys, but so many of them just seemed a little too advanced for her. So I decided to start making up little activities for her at home, using household items, and I thought I’d share them with you!
So, here are five quick, simple, cost-effective ideas to help you to not only entertain your baby, but also help them develop motor skills, awareness of their surroundings, and later speech and language. Let your baby explore, but please ensure they are supervised at all times throughout activities and check items for damage before use.
1. Water play
This is one of my firm favourites and has always been a favourite of my nearly two year old. There are many different activities you can do with water, but for babies aged zero to six months, it really is all just about feeling and exploring it. This activity can be incorporated with tummy time or learning to sit up for slightly older babies.
You will need:
- A wide shallow bowl or tray
- One or two little plastic cups/spoons/containers
- One large towel
- One hooded baby towel
- Spare clothes
Lay the towel out on the floor, put the bowl of water on top, and put a little bit of warm water in the bowl. Encourage your baby to explore it by pouring the water on their hands, helping them to swirl their hands around in the water, and letting them play with the containers or spoons. Have endless fun and embrace it!
2. Exploring pots and pans
You will need:
- Any bowls, pots or pans
- Any wooden or plastic spoons, and spatulas
Make music (or just a racket!) with your little one by bashing pots and pans. My toddler absolutely loves doing this still now. It’s also a great one for letting your child get involved with the set up and tidy up afterwards! Plus, while you’ve got the pots and pans out, why not put some sensory feathers through the holes in a colander and get your baby to pull them out!
3. Create your own sensory items
Place craft pom-poms or similar in a sandwich bag and let your baby feel them through the plastic. My baby used to absolutely love these. I would usually do this whilst she was on her tummy.
You can also create your own sensory bottle by filling up a normal small bottle with water, sequins, pom poms - anything colourful and small enough to fit through the top! Secure the lid by screwing it on and then let your baby shake it and watch everything move around. Magic!
4. Make a treasure box
Get a shallow tray or basket and look around your house for absolutely anything you think your baby may like to explore, such as a remote (with batteries removed), cups, spoons, coasters, balls, blankets, teddies - anything you like! Let your baby explore and talk about the different items with them. How do they feel? How do they look? What colour are they? This is great for speech development too.
5. Exploring tummy time using your baby’s cot
This was another favourite of my daughter’s, is very easy to set up, and has the added bonus of no mess.
You will need:
- A blanket for your baby to lie on
- A ribbon to tie onto the cot
- A fabric book
- Toys that rattle or light up and have a hole for ribbon to go through
- A sensory scarf
- Anything else you can think of!
Tie your ribbons onto the cot so that they’re low enough for your child to grab. Then set up your other tummy time items against the cot too, perhaps with some poking out of the cot so your baby can grab them too. This will encourage them to lift their head up to look at all the items you’ve set up. Make sure you supervise your little one throughout tummy time when playing with ribbons.
There are also some toys that are always winners in our house. Bubbles and puppets cannot be beaten in my opinion! The main thing - whatever you do - is to get stuck in and interact with your little one. You’ll make some lovely memories too!