By 9 months of age your little one is becoming a character as their personality starts to shine through. Of course, all babies hit milestones at different times, but your baby may be starting to become more mobile, to show preferences towards particular toys and activities and becoming more vocal when either of these two things are compromised. With that, it can become harder and harder to keep them entertained in the house in the same ways you could a few weeks ago. Here are some activities that we do to keep my little one entertained day to day.
From when my boy was 2 weeks old we’ve been attending baby classes. At first, it was more for me: an opportunity to get out of the house, to speak to other adults and sometimes even have a hot drink. 9 months in and we’ve attended all sorts of baby classes: from Baby Sensory to Moo Music to Messy Play. Getting out to a class as your baby gets older is a great way to keep your baby entertained, for them to socialise and learn new skills both through the activities in the classes and also from watching others. Having a one hour class booked in can really break up your day. If you walk to the class, meet a friend before or afterwards for a coffee and then walk back it’s your whole morning or afternoon sorted.
Swimming is such a fabulous activity for little ones. Not only do babies love being in water but it’s also a lovely way to bond with them whilst having all that skin to skin contact. What’s more, after a half hour splash, your baby is likely to want a longer nap than usual which might give you chance to have a rest too when you get home. We signed up for Waterbabies early on which was an excellent class to help us to feel confident taking our little one swimming. As beneficial as swimming classes are, they are also expensive. For a fraction of the price why not take your little one down to the local swimming pool during family or public swim times for just half an hour in the water? A lot of new mums are put off the idea because of having to change yourself and your little one but get organised, take some toys and play some music on your phone to help distract and entertain your baby while you sort yourself out. Alternatively, you could take a friend or family member too and take it in turns to change and mind the baby.
Babies love being read to and as they get older this fascination with books will start to grow. There are so many benefits to reading aloud to your baby: it stimulates language skills, cognitive thinking skills and even enhances their memory. You could select a couple of books and read to your baby before their nap, you could create a mini hard book box to give your baby the opportunity to play with and select a book for you to read with them or why not take a trip to your local library? Getting out to your library is a great activity to start with your baby from an early age. They will love the wide selection of books and seeing others read will be beneficial too. Most libraries to baby and toddler sessions too so this can be a great way to meet other mums and a social opportunity for babies too.
Sensory pat mats are a great way to keep your baby fascinated and entertained for short amounts of time. If you take a zip lock bag and add in sequins and glitter then fill with water and seal. You can then tape this to the floor or your baby’s high chair tray and your baby will have lots of fun trying to move the sequins around in the water. There are so many other options too- you can fill with pom-poms, feathers, sand or even try paint and oil. It’s just a little activity that might give you 10 minutes peace!
Getting outside and getting some fresh air can really help break your day up. A quick walk or drive to your local park and your child is suddenly exposed to new sights, smells and sounds. It’s an opportunity to change up the conversation with your little one by talking through what you can see in the park. You could take them out of their pram or carrier and let them put their feet on the grass. Or take them to the swings to get their bodies moving. If going alone to the park isn’t your thing, why not contact a fellow mum and meet up there? If you regularly go to the same park why not try going further afield to a bigger park that may have water features, animals or a cafe for further sensory exposure. During the summer months it’s especially nice to take advantage of the warmer weather by getting out but it’s also lots of fun in the cooler months and a rainy day is just an opportunity to jump in muddy puddles!
Babies love music and you can see them physically change when familiar songs come on. When you’re in the house all day it’s easy to leave the telly on in the background or even let the sounds of your baby’s toys take over. But if you find your baby getting restless or frustrated why not try putting some music on and seeing if this changes the mood? Another great musical activity is to let your baby make some music! Using some pots and pans and wooden spoons along with some dried pasta in a plastic container – your baby can have lots of fun learning to bang and shake whilst getting rid of some frustration. Baby music classes are also a great way to expose your little one to new instruments and sounds and see if it’s something they enjoy… without potentially annoying your neighbours!
Now your baby is exploring solid food you could turn mealtimes into more of an event by making a picnic. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy: sandwiches, rice cakes, pouches of baby food… whatever you’d normally be feeding your baby why not try packing it up and taking it to the park? If the weather is nice and you have some Mum friends nearby it could be a lovely afternoon out having some food and socialising with other babies. Alternatively, if you have a garden or yard to use you could have a mini picnic out there- if you’re doing baby led weaning then eating outside means you don’t have to clean up as much mess afterwards!
Farm and Zoo
Now that your little one is older, trips to the farm or zoo will be exciting for them. Lots of local farms have cafes which are baby friendly so it can be a really nice morning or afternoon out. Your baby is probably familiar with lots of animals from their books, TV or their toys; seeing the animals up close and hearing them will be fascinating. For a bigger day out you could try a trip to the zoo. This may require extra planning or scheduling around food and naps but it’ll be great fun for you both. It may be worth investing in a zoo membership: one off trips can be expensive and the pressure is then on to make the most out of that one trip. Whereas if you have an annual membership it gives you an activity to do throughout the year with less pressure to stay for the whole day.
It’s free, it’s simple and it’s easy to set up and clean up. Playing with water is an excellent way to release energy and to develop motor and social skills. Additionally, playing with water can help build language and communication as well as stimulating imagination and creativity. Water play is a wonderful activity on a warm day outside as it will help cool your little one down but they’ll dry off quicker too. But it’s not to say you can’t enjoy water play indoors on a rainy day too: placing open bin bags down to protect your floor or even using the bath to allow your little ones to mess and play inside with water. Water play can be as elaborate or as simple as you like. You could invest in water troughs and toys for outside or fill your washing up bowl and add some household objects to play with. You could freeze objects in blocks of ice for your little one to chip away at or melt or you could encourage your little one to transfer water from one bowl to another using different items.
If it’s a rainy day, there are no classes available and none of your friends are free another option is to get out to your local cafe for a change of scenery. If your little one has been getting fed up in the house then a trip out might be just what they need to calm down. Take some of their toys, books or even a pat mat and get yourself a coffee. If the two of you have been in all day it’ll be good for you both to see new faces. You might only stay for 20 minutes but it’ll help change the mood for when you return home.
Being home all day with a little one can be hard work. Sometimes you can have a brilliant morning at baby group then the afternoon can feel like an eternity. Hopefully some of these ideas will help you to keep your baby entertained on your quieter days or during the holidays when some of your usual classes or activities are no longer running. What do you do to keep yours entertained? We’d love to hear your ideas and try them out ourselves.