Posts Tagged ‘activities’

Sensory Activities for Baby

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

sensory activities for babySo your baby is 3 months old now.  She seems to be ready to play and learn about her world.  But how do you play with a 3-month-old? Providing her with sensory activities each day helps her develop cognitively, begin to learn language, and gives you the opportunity to play with your baby. Initially, I was hesitant to start using sensory activities because activities that create a big mess are overwhelming to me. However with a little research, I discovered that with slight modifications, many everyday activities turn into sensory activities, becoming opportunities to play with your baby, build foundations for language development, and encourage exploration of her world.

The following are 10 activities I used with both my girls to address the five senses.

  1. Reading touch and feel books together (The That’s Not My… series are my girls’ favorite touch and feel books)
  2. Creating scent jars by filling empty spice jars with strong smelling objects (basil, orange, lemon, lavender, etc)
  3. Creating a ribbon box by attaching ribbons at the opening of an old box (one that is large enough for your baby to lay in/under)
  4. Allowing them to squish and play with their food once they start solids
  5. Providing toys that crinkle, make other sounds, and have many textures (Melissa and Doug’s Flip Fish was one of Juniper’s favorites from about 4 to 7 months old)
  6. Walking outside while talking to your baby about things you see, sounds you hear, and smells you smell
  7. Playing peek-a-boo and other songs that use scarfs
  8. Going to baby storytime and other age-appropriate mommy and me classes
  9. Looking at and making silly faces in mirrors
  10. Talking to your baby while grocery shopping about what color, shape, etc of the items you’re purchasing (sometimes I accidentally do this on solo shopping trips and get weird looks!).  In the produce section, I let my girls touch and smell the produce we intend to purchase as I’m talking about it.

Having your baby do sensory activities does not require a huge mess or a lot of prep before hand.  With little extra effort, you can maximize your baby’s opportunity to use their senses and learn about the world.

Becky Nagel is a stay at home mom to two girls, a three year old and a one year old, in Denver, CO who enjoys cooking for her family, running, and hiking.

The Value of Free Time

Friday, May 13th, 2016

grass rollingFor the first time in my parenting life, my toddler has absolutely no activities to attend, classes to take or socializing to do. This tiny tot has a completely blank schedule, with free time galore. And I’m loving every second of his lack of activities.

When my first baby was born, we filled our days with library storytimes, play dates, zoo trips, swim lessons, art classes, mommy and me symphony, breastfeeding support groups, you name it and we did it. We were BUSY–a set schedule as rigid as could be because they had to have stimulation, socialization and friends. Truth be told, I needed these as much if not more than my kids did. I needed the mommy and me comraderie, the momma tribe of like minded friends who were as sleep deprived, milk stained and hopped up on nursing hormones as I was. I needed to hang out with others who understood if I lost it over a spilt sippy cup or a leaking boob. It was a special and precious time, I made some incredible friends and memories, exploring the world through my baby’s eyes.

Somewhere between baby two and three, my perspective changed on toddler and baby activities. Instead of searching out more things to do (I had plenty already!) I chose to simplify, to reduce our activities and busyness and give this baby the gift of time. Time to be himself, time to play at home, time to just be with mom. He enjoys playing on his own, exploring our back yard and spending endless hours in the parks near our home. We do art at home, we play playdoh, color, build with legos and read. We eat, cook, bake and garden. He enjoys sitting in the sun and watching the birds, and just hanging out. The biggest benefit I see in this free, unstructured gift of time is the abilitiy to self regulate how much he wishes to participate. Studies find that children who participate in more structured activities tend to self regulate less than kids who are left to their own devices. I see now how structured his life will be as he enters preschool and elementary, and if this small gift of freedom is an easy offering I can give him to enjoy these early years in easygoing bliss.

Someday, his days will be filled with busy, but for now, he is happy being free.

Pia Watzig is a stay at home mom to three little boys in Portland, OR.

Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

Rainy day activities for toddlersIt’s raining. The forecast is calling for days of this. And lucky you, you have a restless toddler (or two!) on your hands, literally bouncing off of your walls. And furniture. And maybe even climbing your cabinets …

When the weather forces my family indoors, we have a few go-to activities that we enjoy doing, helping all of us to keep our sanity.

One activity we have had fun with  is a shaving cream party. Cover your kitchen table with old newspaper and squirt the contents of a can or two of shaving cream on top. If you like, you can add wooden spoons or other toys to add in the fun. Kids have a fun sensory experience making things out of that super dense foam, and clean up is pretty easy. I will caution you to not make the mistake I did by using a shave gel (that was also scented). The foam is a little dense, and the fragrance was overpowering (luckily it was raining so opening a window wasn’t a great option). Plain, cheap, unscented foam is the best.

If you have some notice (like with a major storm), you can pick up little ceramics or other items at the dollar or craft store beforehand for your kids to paint. Even my most active and wild little man will be entertained for quite a while with this project. Clean-up can be a little more intensive than the shaving cream party; but using water soluble paints and stripping your kids down to a diaper or undies makes it pretty painless.

If you have a sliding glass door in your home, writing on it with glass markers (like for decorating a car) or dry erase markers is a fun (and easy to clean) exercise. You’ll want to be close by to keep little hands from extending their artistic endeavors to the adjacent walls, but this can be very fun. We took a cruise once over Christmas and we used these to draw a Christmas tree on our doors, which our kids then drew on decorations for.

Of course, there are lots of fun and tried-and-true things to do on a rainy day. Making forts, having “slumber parties” (making popcorn and watching a movie from mom and dad’s room is a big hit in our house), staging races where each heat requires a different form (better for more experienced walkers; kids can skip, run backwards, run or hop like different animals, etc.), or making race car roads or train tracks through your house using masking or washi tape are all super fun ways to make the most of a day indoors.

Meaghan Howard is currently a stay-at-home mom and enjoying living overseas with her husband and two young children. She enjoys traveling, running, and the most excellent sport of all time, dragon boat.




Let’s Be Bored!

Monday, January 25th, 2016

boredBetween library time, lessons, errands and groceries, many of our kids spend very little time unscheduled. Imaginative free play is very important for building self esteem and confidence in kids, yet many parents shy away from unstructured time. Let’s face it, leaving a toddler to their own devices is something that is not only frowned upon but also a little terrifying. I know my one year old is usually up to no good if allowed to roam freely. But unstructured playtime is very good for our modern kids.

Starting a toddler in an open-ended game–say tents and tunnels, pillow forts, or even blocks, and then stepping away when they begin playing on their own is an excellent way to help them get started. Leaving a few age-appropriate toys in a room for them is great too–it allows them to decide how and what to use and come up with a way to free play. This stimulates the decision and impulse control areas of the brain and allows the child to determine how and why things are done.

Staying home and allowing boredom to occur is another way to allow children and toddlers the time to decide what they truly wish to play with. I know I tend to be out of the house too often, with errands or activities, and my kids don’t get the time to truly immerse themselves into play. When we choose to stay home, I find my boys get wrapped up in make-believe, setting up things for themselves and day dreaming away the hours. Sometimes I find them thumbing through picture books, letting their imagination run wild.

Ways to Encourage Free Play

1. Keep the TV off. Even if the TV is on a show or channel that is not for kids, they will tend to pay attention rather than play. If your kids were watching a show and become absorbed in play, quietly turn down the TV and then turn it off.

2. Don’t “help” them. If your kids want you to solve play problems for them, like building a tall tower, drawing something, or changing a doll, encourage them to take the problem-solving lead and show you how. Praise their efforts when they do!

3. Rotate your toys. Kids love new toys, but their definition of “new” is anything they haven’t seen in a while. By keeping some toys out of sight and bringing them out when the toy selection gets stale, you can get that new-toy mileage out of the stuff you already have, and it also helps cut down on clutter.

4.  Bring out the open-ended toys. Remember when Legos used to come in buckets? No instructions, no pictures, no branding? Branded toys are easy for marketers to sell, but it’s toys like blocks, dolls, balls, and even cardboard boxes that allow children to let their imaginations run wild.

When we allow ourselves to be bored, we let the busyness go and children see us for ourselves. They see how we can pass the time by reading, knitting, cooking or enjoying a good long snuggle. And they learn to be content with what they have within arms’ reach instead of seeking more stimulation elsewhere.

Pia Watzig is a stay-at-home mom to three crazy boys ages 6, 3 & 1. She enjoys knitting, cooking and trying to wrangle her crazy kids. She lives in Portland, OR.


Summer Fun with a Mobile Baby

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

IMG_1653-2It’s summer. Parks. Splash Pads. Vacations. But what do you do with a baby who is mobile, ready to explore, and doesn’t like to sit still?  You can still have tons of fun with your baby in the summertime, even though they have reached the mobile stage. My son Levi is super mobile. At 10 months, he crawls, cruises, scoots, and pulls up on everything. Here are some great ways to enjoy the summer with your little one.

Take the Toys Outside:

Babies love to play, and mommies need the fresh air. It sounds simple, but even just taking your toys outside can be fun for you and baby. Take a picnic blanket and allow baby to explore whatever toys you choose. I have done this several times with a ring stacker, blocks, and soft toys for Levi. Most of the time, babies will stay on the blanket. You can allow baby to explore the grass some, too. Many moms invest in play yards that you can take outside to further contain your baby while allowing for some fun. If all else fails, break out the stroller and let baby sit in it and play or snack while you enjoy some vitamin D or play time with an older sibling.

Go for a Stroll:

My son Levi may be mobile, but he still loves for me to buckle him in and go for a wagon ride. He loves to see other children playing, hear the birds chirp, and look at the fish in the pond.  He is very curious, so he doesn’t tolerate a long walk right now, but we do go for short walks several times a week.

Splash Pads:

Even a mobile baby can enjoy a trip to the local pool or splash pad.  Levi will start to crawl away from me some at the splash pad but he still wants mommy right there. Remember if you take a mobile baby to a pool, be prepared. Try baby wearing or bring in a small stroller so you have something to help you carry baby and all of your things. I love my Tula and sit n stand stroller by Babytrend.  These things help me tote both of my small little ones around town on hot summer days.

Get Creative:

Bubbles and finger paints are popular toys at my house. My son loves to sit and catch bubbles. He could do this for hours. We also like to try and make those cute crafts you see on Pinterest, although this doesn’t always turn out. Do whatever is fun and creative for your family, everyone has their own interests.

Visit Your Animal Friends:

We recently went to the children’s zoo with Levi for the first time. He loved seeing the cows, goats, monkeys, and kitties. He also was a big fan of the train. Little ones can’t always handle long trips, but you can enjoy a few hours at a local zoo with a mobile baby. We often visit Pet Smart and other local pet stores to go see the animals. Consider taking your little one to your local humane society to visit the lonely animals, as well. Babies love animals, and it will do your heart good to see their expressions of delight.

There are lots of fun things you can do to have fun with a mobile baby. Get ready for walking momma, it’s coming. Life will keep getting more interesting, but if you keep your baby safe and are prepared, you can still have lots of summer fun.

Karyn Meyerhoff is the mom of one active toddler and one very mobile baby. She lives and writes in Northeast Indiana.