In the first 6 months, it can be really hard to get out of the house, but often guilt sets in and you might find yourself asking ‘am I doing enough to entertain the baby?”. While babies don’t need a lot of planned entertainment like toddlers or older children, it is a great idea to do a few simple activities with them to assist in their development. The best part about this though, is that they don’t need to require a lot of effort!! I mean, who doesn’t have a baby that prefers car keys to an actual baby toy? Here are some great quick and easy activities to pull together to bond with your baby and boost their development at home.
Play gym mix up
One of the “must have” purchases of any new mum is a great play gym. While some are chosen for their aesthetics, even the most basic A-frame stand will actually do the job! Mix up the toys and attachments on your play gym, drawing inspiration from around the house. These mix ups I’ve got pictured are focused on practicing the pincer grip, and also exploring new textures and sounds. Try mixing up your play gym with everyday objects such as loofahs, hair ribbons, bells, balloons and even the OBall.
Themed sensory bags
Take your sensory bag to the next level by picking a theme! By simply taking a zip lock bag, some water and a few drops of olive oil and food colouring, and then throw in objects you find around the home. Here I added a foam number, some buttons, milk bottle tops and a blue rubber band! Let your baby have fun squishing and feeling their way around.
Babies love to look in the mirror! Whether they’ve realised it’s themselves or they think they’re looking at someone else – it doesn’t matter! For this twist on mirror time, I bought some stick on mirror panels from Bunnings (safer than an actual mirror as they can’t be cracked like mirror!) and stuck it on to our trusty play board (a panel of timber from Bunnings). Lay it down and let bub have some tummy time with a difference!! Watch as bub realises there is a face looking back at them.
With a little bit of preparation, bub can have so much fun squishing and exploring! Boil up some spaghetti and once drained split into a few different bowls. Add in a few drops of different food colouring in each bowl and toss through to cover the spaghetti with colour (a tablespoon of water can help the colour spread easier). Sit to the side to let absorb the colour and then rinse under the tap to get rid of excess colour so as not to stain bub’s hands. I covered our play board with cling wrap and lay your baby down with a few blobs of the different colours. Let them squish it between their fingers, bring it to their mouth (it is food safe if they do eat some) and rub it over their face and hair.
The options are endless when it comes to sensory bottles! Keep an eye out at the cheap discount stores for bits and bobs that might catch bub’s eye, or simply look around your own home – pegs, baby food pouch tops, bottle tops – they all make great additions to sensory bottles! I bought a 4 pack of bottles from Kmart and filled them with bells, buttons, pom poms and sticks. They make different sounds, and feel different when shaken. Super easy to change up every now and then too.
Another great tummy time activity is jelly play! Make up some jelly by using gelatine powder and food dye (this way it is safe to eat, but without all the sugar of jelly out of the packet) and then spread it out over your chosen surface. Lay bub down (with or without nappy – your choice) and see what they do! Exploring the cold, wet, sticky feeling is great fun for them! Take it up another level and do a jelly dig – “hide” some toys in the jelly for bub to dig out!
Pick up sticks
Once bub is comfortably able to sit up on their own, try this baby version of pick up sticks. I bought some coloured sticks from the discount store, as well as a pack of washi tape from Kmart. Matching the stick and the tape, I stuck them all on to the play board. Bub can practice their pincer grip and pull the sticks off one at a time. They can also learn colour recognition as you say the colour of the stick to them as they pull it off. BONUS ACTIVITY- once bub has peeled the stick off the board, stick the tape to their legs and let them pull it off (washi tape, particularly 2nd time around, isn’t very sticky so don’t stress that you will hurt bub!). It’s a different feeling/sensation than what they are used to, and continues their practice of the pincer grip.
Once bub is up and moving, try out a busy board! I bought a long plank from Bunnings and then raided the clearance table and my discount store for bits and bobs. Try different cleaning cloth fabrics, locks, buttons, switches and even a scrubbing brush! Using my trusty hot glue gun I stuck them all on (hubby used the drill to attach some of the heavier items). I introduced this around the age of 9 months old. You could continue to update the items as bub grows, increasing the difficulty of things such as the locks and switches.