Until Sunshine arrived, the youngest baby I had ever spent much time with was an eight-month-old I used to babysit. While I was playing with him, I was also watching his three older siblings. It meant that a day of babysitting was never dull. Since the family also attended the same church as us, I usually spent several minutes after the service each week holding the baby. I was a pro at bouncing and rocking. Babies were easy.
Enter Sunshine. The first few weeks were as I expected—babies eat and poo and sleep. Other than the fact that I couldn’t put her down, she was pretty easy to take care of. Then as she got older, she began wanting to play. She’d spend a bit of time in her rocking chair staring at her toys. I could put her down for a bit longer. Bathtime became more fun. But she kept wanting to play more. And it was not baby who got bored, but mommy. Here are a few of the things I’ve found to keep her busy…
Baby and the Yoga Ball
Hold baby while bouncing on the yoga ball to soothe or comfort baby. As baby is able to sit up, she can bounce on the yoga ball on her own. Place her on her stomach and roll her around gently while talking to her. See which ways she likes rolling. Or hold her sitting up and roll her back and forth on the ball. This help develops her motor skills and sense of balance.
Get out with Baby
Go out. Now that baby’s eyes are nearly fully developed, she loves looking around her. A busy place like a shopping store has tons for her to look at and listen to. Go grocery shopping or even just window shopping.
Take a walk with baby either in the stroller or in a baby backpack. The motion of either one is soothing for younger babies. As they get older, babies will enjoy watching the scenery along the walk. A tree-lined path or lots of other people gives baby something to watch. It also lets mom get some exercise and fresh air.
Move with Baby
Put on some favourite music and dance with baby. Or (when she’s strong enough to hold her neck), play airplane games (make sure you have lots of room around you before doing this). You can also lay on your back and hold baby on your shins, then move your legs up and down. Some babies also like being turned upside down—carefully supported by mom’s hands, of course.
You can also sing silly songs and play rhyming games with baby, such as “This Little Piggy” and “Pop Goes the Weasle.” Nicole, creator of the Kids Fun and Games website, says, “Baby development studies have shown that babies who are talked and sung to will generally have a better grasp of language as a toddler, giving them a better grounding for school and adulthood.”
Read and Talk to Baby
Babies love the sound of mom’s voice, but mom may get tired of carrying on one-sided conversations with them. Even before baby can pay attention to the picture, she will enjoy hearing mom read. It will also help them develop a love for reading. Nicole notes that “At this age babies will like to help turn the pages of books, [so] board books or fabric books are best.” Some libraries have programs for moms and babies.
See what’s going on in your community. Many pools offer moms and babies swimming classes, where the babies sit in floaters while their moms exercise and watch them. Fitness centers also offer strollercize. Libraries, community organizations, and churches also host mom’s groups. Watch for community advertisements or talk to other moms to find out more.
Each new day brings new changes with Sunshine. Now that she’s four months old, she’s playing with sounds, trying to stand up, and more alert than ever—keeping me on my toes!