This post was contributed by Vered Ronen, Founder of Baby In Tune.
8 Great Activity Ideas for Time at Home with Your Baby
Parents, I hate to say it, but if you had a baby in the last 6 months you are in the perfect sh*t storm. On top of dealing with the insane reality we’re living in and being cooped up inside, you are trying to figure out how to survive on 3 hours of sleep while doing your 17th diaper change before hitting one more feeding roadblock.
Don’t get me wrong. I know that much of your day with your baby feels magical, like when the sun hits the playmat at exactly the same time your baby giggles at you. That’s when you’re overcome with so much love and gratitude, your heart nearly bursts.
But a lot of your day consists of you being 5 cups of coffee into your -I-need-more-sleep routine while you bounce your baby wearing a cabbage-leaf bra. And the days are loooooooooong.
So you wonder … How can you increase the magical moments? How can you make more of your day feel like that first morning smile?
Well, I can’t come do your laundry or babysit so you get an extra nap but here are 8 ideas to beat the boredom, bring more smiles to your day, and help you speak your baby’s language.
Disclaimer: I am a music therapist with a background in psychology so a lot of my approach involves music. It’s a no brainer! babies speak the language of music from day 1, and even in-vitro.
1 – Go for a bike ride to get your baby moving and stretching
Your hands, face and voice – that’s all your baby needs right now for playtime with you. When you connect these three things in song, they learn more than you think. I’m talking language, small and gross motor skills, attention and focus, and patterns.
I am not suggesting to just sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and be done with it. Your baby is interested in BIG dynamics and BROAD movements. They want the song to repeat a few times so that they can learn new things about it every time you do it. And one more thing – they want eye contact.
Let’s try it: This song is all about moving your baby around to help them stretch, relieve gas feel their limbs and increase mobility. The raindrops at the end are like a little massage. Make sure to maintain eye contact.
2 – Now YOU take a stretch with head shoulders knees and toes
I love this one because it is a stretch for US! If you are sitting next to your baby or standing over him it is a great song to show him the full movement of the body.
Feel free to really go for it. Part of the reason we end up feeling bored is because we are exhausted (not enough sleep), and our body is tired from all the heavy lifting (picking up, putting down, nursing, pushing stroller, holding in carrier, etc.) Use this song to let YOURSELF stretch. It is so important for your own well being and consequently for your baby’s too.
Let’s try it: When your baby is lying on the floor stand over him or her and really try to reach your toes. You can also do it sitting next to him. Your baby will love the show and you will feel so much better by the end of it.
3 – Dance party! Boogie the witching hour away
It’s 5 p.m. Your baby is whiny. It’s been a long day and you’re losing it a bit. This trick is like a reset button to the witching hour. It’s so simple yet so effective. And the best part – it will make you feel HAPPIER.
Put on your favorite dance song; hold your baby close; and dance. Go nuts. Let your body release. Let your baby feel synchronized to the rhythm.
Let’s try it: What song truly makes you boogie? Is it retro? Pop? Rock? Jazzy? Motown? International? Whatever it is, put it on when you are at your lowest! Pick up your baby and start to boogie. Then put your baby down and dance around her.
4 – Have a conversation with your baby – mirror their vocals
Your baby is a natural singer. You’ve probably noticed their creative vocal experimentation. The very high notes, the gurgles, the lip trills and all those sounds in between.
If you want to get a conversation going, AND you want to help your baby develop language skills, mirror your baby’s sounds. Make exactly the same sounds back to your baby that she is making without adding your own language. Then – pause, allow for silence until your baby responds.
Let’s try it: To get your baby to start vocalizing, start with a very high sound or a very low sound and then wait. Repeat back to your baby every sound they make including the breaths, the short grunts, or any other sounds. After you’ve mirrored your baby WAIT SILENTLY until your baby responds back.
5 – Easy songwriting about body parts
If you haven’t tried to make up a song with your baby yet I highly recommend it. I teach how to do it in my course, but for now, here is a simple method that your baby will love.
Sing “Mama (dada) loves your nose” (or “mama sees your nose”, or “I can touch your nose”) as you lightly touch your baby’s nose. This can be any melody you come up with. In fact, often the way we intuitively say it to our baby is melody enough.
Now use the same melody for your baby’s cheeks, eyebrows, shoulders, feet, etc. You are teaching your baby about body parts and you are also connecting through touch and melody.
Let’s try it: Point to your baby’s nose, or cheeks, or lips and notice the melody you ALREADY have in your voice as you say – ”Mama loves your nose!” Now accentuate that melody and sing the same about another part of your baby’s body
6 – Let’s make silly faces
What does your baby love the most at this point in his life? Your face, your voice, and your hands. You can do so many activities with just those!
This game is all about making silly faces and seeing how your baby mimics you. Even very small babies are able to slightly mimic someone. Have you noticed her trying to stick out her tongue when you do? Or trying to raise her eyebrows when you do?
Let’s try it: Sit with your baby and just start making silly faces like sticking out your tongue. Your baby may not have the muscle control to make all of the faces you do, but she will definitely try. See how she tries to move her tongue or mouth, or her cheeks and eyebrows when you do.
7 – Singing instead of speaking
Many of the blogs and books you’ve been reading about caring for babies have probably talked about narrating what you are doing when you are with your baby. The idea is that it is beneficial for language development to hear speech. But that can feel silly and unnatural.
On the other hand, it feels a lot less silly to do it in song. So this activity is all about just singing about what you are doing. Are you folding laundry? Make up a song about it! Are you sweeping? Make up a song about it. Your baby will love to hear your ditties and may even catch on to the tune sooner than you think.
Let’s try it: As you are folding the laundry see if you can sing about exactly what you are doing – “Folding a blue t-shirt, folding some pants, folding all day, this pile never ends.” Well – ok that doesn’t quite rhyme. I am sure you can come up with something better.
8 – Peekaboo to practice comings and goings
Why do babies love peekaboo? Because it allows them to practice comings and goings. The hardest thing for them at the moment (and for us!) is when we leave them. They don’t know when we will come back and if we will leave again.
Peekaboo is a way for them to practice us disappearing and reappearing in a safe and fun way. They can experience the delight of finding us again and us finding them again over and over.
Let’s try it: Take a handkerchief, blanket, or really anything, and hide your face or your baby’s face. Notice the melody you sing intuitively when you say – “Peekaboo!” Was it in a high voice? That is how we show surprise and excitement
Ok friends. You’ve got 8 activity ideas to start with. I hope that these help bring a bit more smiles, more snuggles, more cooing, less crying.
To register for a remote Baby in Tune class go to: www.babyintune.com/classes. You’ll learn more tools on how to soothe your baby, put your baby to sleep, enrich, play and understand your baby.