Congratulations! You’ve managed to bake a tiny human to perfection, give birth to said human AND keep her safe for those first precious months.
NOW comes the fun part - entertaining your little treasure! Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol and Ben and Holly (to name but a few!) do a wonderful job of keeping small people engaged and occupied for a while you try and juggle a million and one things, but, aside from the fact too much telly is probably not ideal for their developing little brains, there is a limit to the number of times you can listen to a certain little pink madam jumping up and down in muddy puddles!
So for your own sanity (and to save the HDTV from getting turfed out the window) here are 10 snort and snout free ideas for entertaining your little ones!
WARNING: some of these activities can be a little on the messy side! But simple prep such as popping an old T-shirt on your child and putting some black bags or an old table cloth under the play space can make tidying up a much easier task!
1: Edible art. This involves mixing food colouring into small amounts of milk. Your child can then paint slices of bread with the mix and create a masterpiece fit for eating!
2: Tummy time mirror play. By placing a flat mirror on the floor and popping baby on their tummy so they can see into it, you are creating lots of opportunities for baby to engage and explore.
3: Cheerios bird feeder: This activity is not only teaching little people about nature and the outside world but is great for fine motor skills and dexterity. Simply thread Cheerios onto a pipe cleaner and bend them into a shape to hang on a tree.
4: Tummy time painting: This is a great mess-free way for babies to explore mark making! Pop a piece of paper into a large zip loc bag, squeeze in some different coloured paints, shut the bag, tape it to the floor and let baby make a painty mess INSIDE the bag as they put their little paws on it. This can also be done while the child is in a high chair or when they’re a little bigger just sat at a table.
5: Edible play dough. This activity can get a little bit messy but it’s just SO much fun and it’s 100% safe for kids to eat. Simply melt some marshmallows and mix in a little cornflour to create a lovely silky textured play dough!
6: Some simple fine motor activities include popping small pom poms (the kind you'd find in a craft store) inside a hand whisk..kids spend AGES pulling them out! Taping lollipop sticks to a surface and letting your little ones pull them off. Cutting a small hole in a shoe box and letting your child pop pom poms or lollipop sticks through the hole. Using a small wooden hammer to bang golf pegs into florists foam/oasis. The list is endless!
7: Sensory bags and bottles: Fill a zip loc bag with hair gel and some eco-friendly glitter or sequins and beads to create your very own sensory table.
Mix some baby oil and water in a plastic bottle and then add in some eco-friendly glitter and other small objects to make calming shaker bottles. I would advise gluing the lids on the bottles and layering up the ziploc bags to ensure longevity!
8: Edible paint: Mix some food coloring into yoghurt to make a great paint. This can be used on bread or just used on paper. Safer for little fingers than regular paint if they have a tendency to lick their fingers!
9: Mug baking: There are so many fantastic mug cake recipes out there and they are so simple and quick to create that even little ones can get involved. Most of them bake in the microwave in a couple of minutes so impatient little tummies don’t need to wait long!
10: Sensory play. Tape old toilet roll/kitchen roll tubes to the inside of a plastic box and fill the box with rice/seeds/lentils.Show your children how to pick up the lentils or rice and slide them down the tubes. This is a fun, tactile activity that will help children’s fine motor skills and cause and effect recognition.
We hope that gives you a little inspiration and some ideas for how to encourage and nurture your child's curiosity.
When brains aren't firing on all cylinders due to lack of sleep, it can be a challenge coming up with different ways to provide stimulation for growing minds and bodies but if there’s one piece of advice I would give you it would be to think outside the toy box! Use things that you have around the home to create play and learning opportunities. You could go out and spend a fortune on the most elaborate battery operated toy on the market and what will your little one want to play with....THE BOX.
By Hope Swail - Early Years Educator.