10 Fun Activities for the New Year
Every new year, people resolve to eat healthier, exercise more, find a new job, and drop bad habits. Why not make a resolution to spend more time doing fun things with your baby? Consider the following list of 10 baby-friendly activities!
Take a Walk
Many new moms don’t make time to exercise or to get outdoors with their little ones. You can do both by taking your baby for a long walk in the stroller, or taking your toddler to a park to run around. Just make sure you consider your child’s perspective.
“Understand what your child’s development is prompting him to do, and plan your outings accordingly,” says Jane Kostelc, curriculum development manager of Parents as Teachers National Center in St. Louis, Missouri. “A toddler who has just learned to walk and has a strong motor drive is not a good candidate for a long stroller ride.”
You can introduce your little one to a whole new world by asking to see “backstage” of familiar places. “Arrange for a tour of the stock room of the grocery store or the receiving area of the produce department,” Kostelc says. “Have your clergy or religious leader show your child what happens before a religious service.” The possibilities for this type of activity are endless. Just make sure you call ahead to find out the best time to visit.
“Become fans of the local high school sports teams,” Kostelc says. Your little one will love the cheering crowds, the bright colors, and all the action at the games. Just be willing to leave if your child gets restless or tired.
Plan a Picnic
Try planning one meal a week outside on a blanket, weather permitting. (If it’s cold, have an indoor picnic!) Leave the high chair behind, pack a basket of your baby’s favorite finger foods, and find a spot in the park to feast. Your baby will like doing an everyday activity in a completely different way.
Explore and Learn
If you’re looking for something fun and educational to do with your little one, follow your child’s lead. “Exploring is learning, so if your child stops to look at a bug, talk together about its color, shape, and activity,” says Rachel Perry of Born Learning, a United Way program that teaches parents how to create learning opportunities for young children. “Choose a
book about bugs from the library to read together.” You can teach your child about bugs, cars, dogs, or anything that he seems to like.
Visit a New Park
If you and your child always go to the same park, try scouting out a new one in a different neighborhood or across town. The different playground equipment will thrill your child, and a new location will make your play outing even more special.
Going to the pool is a fun summertime activity, but if you have an indoor pool at your gym or in your community, you can do it anytime of the year. Baby will love splashing and being in the water with you. And your little one will be excited by the novelty of swimming indoors.
Ready to make some noise (aka music)? “Gather items from around the house, like pots, pans, and anything that makes noise,” says Shay Pausa, a mom from Scottsdale, Arizona. “Line them up and then create a band together, moving from one item to the next.”
Moms tend to avoid messes like the plague, but your baby will love getting his hands gooey with fingerpaints. “Lay out a large sheet of paper, outline baby, and then paint it together,” Pausa says. “Use brushes, hands, even feet to paint. You can also paint a piece of furniture, a poster board, or a wall, if you’re feeling adventurous. Look for nontoxic paint in case some makes it into your baby’s mouth.”
Fun activities don’t always require a special outing. Something as simple as storytime is a fun way to connect with your baby in a quiet and intimate way. And you can make it extra special by getting creative and adding your baby to the story. “Being a lot more structured in the evenings with my work situation these days, I get the opportunity to be more consistent with our bedtime ritual of reading a story, then making one up where he’s the star, and sing-along time,” says Grace White, a mom from Brooklyn, New York. “When I’m not able to do it due to work commitments, I make sure his dad does.”
Every mom knows that kids are only little once, but sometimes parents get so busy that they forget how precious these baby days are. “I want my son to know that he is loved, appreciated, highly valued, and so important to me,” White says. “I want him to feel that he was a gift from God and that I enjoy every minute I spend with him.”
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