The boys are getting to be such a fun age…I’m really able to play with them now! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the infant stage–there is something pretty amazing about watching a baby sleep on your chest, discover their hands, roll over for the first time. But now I have two little boys who love throwing balls, opening and closing doors, stacking blocks and knocking them down, and reading books. It’s opened up a whole new world of play! I thought today I would share with you some of the things Miles and Ollie enjoy doing.
1. Playing inside with the outside
Is it too hot or too cold to play outside? Bring the outside in! When it snowed here this winter, I filled a cake pan with snow and let the boys play with it. It’s really neat to watch as they explored the new substance. No snow? Try bringing in a bunch of leaves or flowers or pinecones–remember these things are all new to your baby!
2. Ditch the toys.
My boys favorite toys? Their plastic spoons, cups, and plates, empty water bottles and egg cartons. Seriously. I haven’t bought them any new toys in three months and they don’t seem to mind! We play with cardboard boxes–they make great tunnels and “boats”; we make tents out of blankets thrown over the dining room table, we play with “maracas” made out of kidney beans in a ziplock storage container (the one with the twist on lid).
3. The classic: play “drums” with pots, pans, and wooden spoons.
We had the luxury of moving into our new place right as the boys were starting to get mobile. So I purposely filled all the bottom cabinets with things they can access: their plates/cups/silverware, tupperware, and pots and pans. It keeps the boys entertained while I cook and clean, I don’t have to baby proof the kitchen, and it teaches them that it’s okay to explore your surroundings.
4. Finger Paint with yogurt.
Add a few drops of food coloring to plain yogurt and you have finger paint that’s safe for you little one to eat. For a no-mess version, put the “paint” in a large ziplock bag and tape to their high chair or to a sliding glass door or window. They can squish it around and mix colors…but no mess!
5. Play with oatmeal.
Give ‘em some bowls, cups, and spoons, and let them practice pouring and using utensils with dry oatmeal. It’s okay if they eat it! (This makes a bit of a mess, but it cleans up pretty easily, as the oatmeal is dry.)
6. Just dance!
Miles and Ollie LOVE to dance. Every night at dinner we put on music and they regularly wave their arms and bounce to the beat. But don’t limit yourself to “Wheels on the Bus” and “Baby Beluga” (although I do love the classics). Keep in mind that your baby will likely be listening to his or her “favorites” over and over and over again…so introduce them to music you like, too! My babes love upbeat dance music…their favorites? Maroon 5 and LMFAO. If you live in a major area, check out Baby Loves Disco, a program that baby-proofs clubs during the daytime and opens them up to babies and their parents. Kids can dance under the disco ball to top hits and enjoy special programing just for them! It’s really neat! We had the opportunity to go to an event here on base in Japan a few months ago and the boys LOVED it.
7. Change up the toys.
Just like adults, babies get bored. So we have a basket of toys we keep in the living room, and every few days, I change out the toys in the basket. It keeps the boys excited about what they’re playing with.
I know this is a no brainer, but I thought I’d share some of our favorite books with you. MJ and O love any books that they can “do” things with: the love opening the flaps in Where’s Spot (and all the sequels), scratching the bunnies tummy in Pat the Bunny, sticking their fingers in the holes in The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and then there is my favorite Click, Clack Moo Cows that Type and its sequel Giggle, Giggle, Quack–it’s not interactive, but it’s really cute!
9. Chat with your family.
Since our family lives half a world away, the only way we can visit with them on a regular basis is to video chat using FaceTime or Skype. It is AMAZING how much the boys interact over this medium. They get excited every time they here the jingle of the video chat opening. So even if you live near your family, try video chatting with your college roommate or great aunt Martha. It’s sure to brighten the day of someone you love and change up the routine for your little one!
10. Change Up Bathtime.
Try changing up bath time tonight. Add something simple like bubbles or these color changing tablets that change the color of the bath water (without dying your kid’s skin). Or try something unexpected like balloons or sponges. One mom I know suggests giving your toddlers glow sticks and turning off the lights!
What are your favorite baby/toddler activities?