As Violet is rapidly growing into a big baby (7 months now), with longer awake time periods, it's got me thinking about what you actually do with a baby to keep them entertained at home. When I had Finn 3.5 years ago I had no idea what I was doing (winging it) and had no concept of what you had to do to fill time with a baby, especially having had no prior experience what so ever. As someone who is fairly impatient with a pretty crap attention span I have to say it is challenging on a daily basis. I want to be that fun mum that plays with her baby all the time and isn't always being distracted be her phone but I hold my hand up I am fully guilty of it :(
At least back with Finn as a first baby I had an NCT group so the early days were spent sitting in coffee shops or taking it in turns to hang out at peoples houses. He had other babies to play with and they kept each other well entertained. But now Violet is pretty much a stay at home baby I'm having to come up with some original ideas to entertain her and keep her occupied whilst I try and do my blog and not feel too guilty about neglecting her. It's, as usual, hard to get a balance and a constant battle of mum guilt. I love this post about the guilt fairy from Hurrah for Gin, click here.
She's nearly outgrown the Jumparoo and jungle playmat and only seems to show interest in her brothers toys and tearing his ninja comics. Sucking pens and hairbrushes are a favourite pastime and my go to 'toys' when she starts to get ratty. Here are a few ideas on what to do with a baby..
PLAY! - Get on the floor and be a dog (she bloody loves this!) and bark, crawl around like a cat, have a tea party. It's not going to be long until they aren't interested in you at all so enjoy this social interaction and be super silly with it. I'm also a fan of turning up the radio to tunes I love and belting them out to her whilst shaking my mum booty - she loves this! Also a great stress reliever...
Eating - I know this sounds strange but I sometimes really enjoy making her mealtimes a long experience. Sitting in her highchair she is contained and content (normally), it's a great time to explore different foods in different forms with a mixture of baby led and spoon fed eating. This can easily take up an hour of activity time if you catch them in a good mood. Make it fun and also get out your pots, pans and wooden spoons, babies love banging them
Baby assault course - clear your sitting room floor and set up an assault course of toys and props for them to work their way through. Still no crawling for us but I'm trying to put her on her tummy more and leave enticing toys or food in front of her to wriggle towards (currently not successful but am persevering!) Also more unusual props from the kitchen like a cooling rack or whisk are much more interesting than the toys they see everyday. V loves sitting in the pink plastic basket we have (see top pic) and playing with it.
Rice - fill a large bowl or tray with (uncooked) rice and hide some toy bricks in it. They are fascinated by the rice and it makes for great sensory play
Human climbing frame /Baby workout - close physical interaction is always fun, I often lie on the floor and put her on my feet up in the air for a gentle baby workout. Watch you don't get puked on though...
Cuddles - I'm teaching Violet to cuddle, it's a pretty important life skill, one her brother is very good at. She is getting pretty good at it, being a mum nothing beats a good cuddle so this is definitely worth the effort!!
Watch TV - I'm not gonna lie we do do this a lot. She has just started showing interest in CBeebies and Waybuloo definitely gets her attention and will buy you 15 minutes of time to 'get stuff done'. I liked this recent post from There We go Blog - My Kids Watch Too Much TV and Im OK With That
Make a den - Violet loves having muslins draped over her and having them flung into the air to settle over face and body with a bit of peek a boo thrown in. Also making a little den with muslins across the coffee table which we then both lie under seems to keep her happy
Play on the bed - great for having some mum lie down time! Show them some books and try and have a bit of down time (whilst often getting your ears or face pulled) sing songs and get a stack of toys to entertain themselves. Babies love beds
Take funny photos - I know I take A LOT of photos of my kids but that's because I'm fairly obsessed with them and get pleasure in seeing their cheeky faces captured to look back in years gone by and reminisce. Grab your camera and take some funny pics, get yourself in it too, make memories and have a giggle whilst doing it. Dress them up in that fab in-practical outfit they never get to wear. To this day I love getting the family photo albums out with my sisters and laughing at the clothes, sometimes wishing we had kept them...
I'm starting to get better at trying to do one outside activity a day - be it going to the supermarket, feeding her lunch in a coffee shop, attending a baby music group, baby swimming, the library or soft play - and this is the key to not totally losing your marbles. Break up your day so you don't go stir crazy and interact with other parents. It's hard not to feel guilty entertaining your baby 100% of the time they are awake but the reality is it's hard and pretty boring, especially combined with the lack of sleep and early starts, the day is loooooong. Have a glass of wine once baby is down in the evening and everything will be fine. And just remember we're all winging it.
What do you do with your baby - any tips?