I mentioned previously that if I were to write a book on Things You Didn’t Know About Parenting that book would be called, “Babies: Not the Most Riveting of Company.” Sometimes I needed ideas of games and activities to play with Isobel when I had been home with her all day and was feeling uninspired. I combed through the library and scoured the internet for ideas, and also added things that worked well for us. I gave this list to my Mom who watched Isobel when I went back to work and decided to share it here to help other uninspired parents and to keep it somewhere safe for when I need it next. I’m posting this in four installments.
51. Blanket outside: if you have nice weather, take your baby outside (appropriately dressed) and set them on a blanket outside. Make sure your baby is protected from the sun. Often I sat Isobel outside on her Bumbo while I watered plants. She was content to watch me and got a thrill whenever the breeze ruffled her hair. I am fortunate to live in a place with mild winters, however, and I know not everyone can do this.
52. Get crafty: Pom-pom play; star garlands: many crafty doo-dads from big box craft stores can be used to entertain baby. A box full of different colored, different-sized pompoms can be a fun thing for a baby. Use common sense about what’s safe and appropriate for your child’s age and development.
53. Empty cardboard boxes: empty paper bags and boxes of all sizes and shapes always attract cats and children. If we have a box around they are usually squabbling with each other to get in first.
54. Stickers: these were not a long term source of entertainment by any means, but Isobel certainly enjoyed the sheet of realistic cat stickers we bought her. We found cats stuck to things for days after that experience.
55. Horses/Cars: If you have plastic horses or other four-legged animals you can teach your baby to make them “run” on the ground or other hard surface. I like to make horses “run” up her arm while singing the theme to Bonanza. Driving cars across baby’s feet is fun, too.
56. Electro shock therapy: This is one of her favorite games. We take two blocks and hit them together while making a ZZZZT! noise, as if they have an electrical charge. We do that a few times to “charge” them up before sticking the blocks in her armpits and tickling her with them while sustaining the ZZZZZZZZZZZT! noise. She thinks this is the funniest thing EVAR and asks us to do it over and over and over again.
57. Burrito baby: Isobel loves it when we lay her on a blanket and wrap her up and pretend she’s a newborn baby, or, even better – a burrito! The best part about wrapping her up like a burrito is pretending to eat her at the end.
58. Move it: Before Isobel could even sit up on her own she would erupt into a fit of giggles if anyone moved in unexpected ways around her, such as jumping up and down, kicking or punching your arms and legs, or, in the case of my sister, doing yoga. Isobel loved watching (and climbing on) auntie doing yoga.
59. Get Silly: Anything unexpected can make baby laugh. Often while I’m folding laundry (especially diapers) with her I’ll put a diaper on my head and one on her head and it will start a whole entertaining game of Putting Things On Our Heads And Laughing.
60. Baller: use larger bouncy balls that don’t pose a choking hazard and throw maybe four or five at a time in a safe area. Your baby will love watching the balls bounce all over the place and ricochet off things. Just be sure your baby’s at a safe viewing spot out of the way of flying balls.
61. Splashy: Most babies love to put their hands in water and even just a little water can satify their urge to splash. Fill a basin or bowl with a small amount of water and let them have at it. Add a little measuring cup or bath toys for interest. Monitor your baby very closely around any water-related activity because children can drown in very, very small amounts of water.
62. Noodle Arms: Pool noodles or pipe insulation: Isobel loved the feeling of swinging around pool noodles or strips of pipe insulation around. She also loved the feeling of biting it. Just be careful they don’t try to eat them.
63. Cat Fancy: Cat magazine/ calendar Zoo: name the animal specie (helpful along with books or TV) Isobel always looks forward to my mom coming over because Ama (aka Mom Mom) would always bring an old cat calendar or her copy of Cat Fancy magazine. (What can I say? My family is HARDCORE.) Isobel has a great time talking and petting the kitties on the page.
64. Watch and Learn: When they are very little babies are sometimes quite entertained just watching you do things like mowing the lawn, clearing the dishwasher, cooking, punching a heavy bag, practicing kicks, or jump roping. Isobel used to be fascinated by me brushing my teeth.
65. Toymania: It’s frustrating to buy an expensive toy that your child is interested in the store that then turns boring once you’re home. Some thrifty ideas of getting toys or making them new include: 1. thrift stores 2. yard sales 3. hand me downs from older children 4. toy swaps with friends about the same age: choose a few toys you’d be willing to let go for a few weeks and trade with another family. At the end of two weeks, toys go back to their original owners.
66. Achoo: buy an inexpensive box of plain Kleenex just for your child to destroy I mean play with. Once all the tissues are out of the box you can teach your baby to stuff them back in and begin again. When that’s over, you have a neat box to play with. A roll of toilet paper is also pretty amusing, if you’re up for some clean up later. This has been a lifesaver for me during car rides, as well.
67. That’s how we roll: Roll a ball to your baby and see if they will roll it back. Demonstrate with an older child or another adult so they know what to expect from you. Start with a smallish, soft ball, but as your baby’s skill grow include many different sizes of balls. For a long time Isobel’s favorite ball was the yoga ball.
68. Where is it? Get three bowls or cups plus a small toy that fits underneath. Like that classic gambling game, cover the object with one of the cups or bowls and line up the others next to it. Shift them around to see if baby follows the one with the object and can find it.
69. Mimic: copy the noises your baby makes and see if you can get your baby to copy sounds you make. Start with animal noises like, “Moo” or “quack” after they’ve mastered vowel sounds.
70. Drop it: I’ll admit it—this is not my favorite game to play. But sometimes, Isobel just loves it, so what are you going to do. When your baby is in the right mood the most entertaining thing of all will be dropping something and picking it back up to be dropped again. This is most entertaining, of course, if baby is doing the dropping and you are doing the picking up.
71. Blocks: Build a small tower or stack of blocks and let your baby knock it over. This is fun for very young babies and is still fun with a toddler. Now she tries to build her own towers of blocks. When she’s even older we can sort the blocks: by color, by number, by letter, etc.
72. Trippy: Megan Boley’s young baby B loves watching iTunes visualizer effect. I wish I had tried this when Isobel was teeny.
73. Beans: along the same lines as playing with birdseed, you might encourage your kid to play with dried beans. Watch for choking hazards.
74. Hats: Wear a hat for your baby and say, “hat!” while pointing to it over and over. Have other hats on for your baby to wear or to put on her dolls and animals.
This is part three in a four-part series Games to Play with Baby. You can find part one here and part two here. Please use common sense. Supervise your child with the appropriate amount of supervision for their developmental age and always watch out for choking hazards, falls, suffocation, or any other danger that might befall a helpless baby. Which I’m sure you already do already, you good parent you.