Being a parent is probably the most important but certainly the most difficult job in the world. There are no holidays or days off, and worrying over your children never really stops, no matter how old they get. People say that taking care of babies isn’t complicated, but only parents know how much hard work needs to be put into even the simplest of tasks. Finding activities for kids is a bit easier when they get older, but with babies, it takes a bit more imagination. If you’re looking for ideas and easy ways to encourage your kids to get active, read on:
Sing and talk to newborns
You might think that infants are too small and too fragile for any kind of activity, but it’s not exactly the case. Newborns need a lot of attention from parents and guardians, and even the simplest activities and tasks will greatly improve their skills and aid their development. Talk to them a lot in exaggerated voices, sing and whisper, let them hear the tone and the sounds of your language. This will help them develop their language skills in the future. Also, whenever your newborn makes a sound, reply using full-on sentences like they can understand you because this will encourage them to talk to you as they master the use of the language.
Give your baby a massage
When you notice that your baby has one of those “good days” when they are alert and quiet, you can use the chance to bond and help their physical development further. Undress your baby down to the diaper and place them so that they are facing up to the ceiling. Make sure you are using a soft towel and a blanket so that being in this position isn’t uncomfortable. The room should be quiet so as not to distract the baby from the massage and warm enough to keep them cozy in just the diaper. Start massaging their body in sections: legs, arms, and belly, and use firm yet gentle strokes. Touch is what makes babies thrive, and this gentle massage can be a great introduction to some more demanding exercises in the future.
Alive and kicking
Use tissue paper to create a ‘curtain’: tuck a couple of sheets of tissue paper (you can use new or even used tissue paper) under the cushion on your sofa so that it creates a curtain that hangs down to the floor. Take off your baby’s socks, place them on their back, and position them in such a way that their feet are against the tissue paper. Baby’s knees should be slightly bent, and they will slowly start kicking, thus touching the paper and rustling it. The sound of rusting paper and the movement will be a delight, and the baby will keep kicking. It’s a simple exercise to introduce cause and effect as well as make them more aware of their body.
You don’t necessarily have to go outside to play, nor do you have to use a lot of toys and accessories. When your baby is only two or three months old, you can start playing the imitation game and watch them have a blast. Place a soft mat on the floor, sit on it with your legs extended, and lay your baby down on your lap so that you’re facing each other. Start chatting with your baby about anything, or simply make silly sounds, and make different facial expressions while doing so. When your baby, in turn, starts making noises start imitating them. You will mimic each other, bond over a simple and fun activity, and have the best time!
Let your baby “fly”
If you’re hoping to stimulate your baby and help them learn to control their body more, you can take them “flying” from the safety of your lap. While you’re sitting, place your baby across your lap so that they are belly-down, and support them with your hands around their midsection. Gently lift the baby from your legs and move them back and forth, up and down, imitating a rocket that’s headed into space. These movements have an element of surprise and babies have a chance to see the world from a new perspective. Also, as they get older and bigger, they will love doing this for longer periods of time and even ask for you to pick them up with arm movements. Still, make sure you’re strong enough and don’t hold the baby in this position for too long if you get tired.
Balloons all around
What started as a joke on the internet slowly took root, and parents all over the world are using this easy trick to keep their babies active and entertained for longer periods of time. You are going to need a few helium balloons, the more colorful, the better (you can even make something similar in your own kitchen with vinegar and baking soda). Tie the balloons loosely to your baby’s shoes and attach them to their sleeves. Baby will be overjoyed and start moving arms and legs in excitement, causing the balloons to move even more. If you want, you can also place a bit of rice in the balloons so that they make a bit of noise too. Baby will kick and wave its arms around, doing a lot of exercise and sense stimulation.
If you have more children of different ages in your house, it might be tricky coming up with activities that will keep everyone happy. This is why a nice family day out is always a good idea: you can keep your baby swaddled while you’re walking, find nice kids bikes for their older siblings, and go on an adventure to your local park or around the neighborhood. You can even let older kids pack toys and some picnic supplies to their backpacks or bike baskets and have lunch outside. This is the simplest and easiest way to make the most of a nice sunny day and spend quality time as a family. On another note, make sure everyone’s wearing sunscreen and hats – you don’t want sunburn at the end of the day!
Arts and crafts
When the weather is not nice, and kids are bored out of their minds, the older kids will ask you to let them watch TV or play video games all day. While it might be tempting to let them do it, rainy days are the perfect time for a bit of arts and crafts. You can make a “family tree” and have all of your children leave their mark on it. Older kids can paint leaves using their fingers or even the palms of their hands, and you can include their baby siblings too: you will need to place the baby’s finger or a palm in a plate with paint, but in the end, you will have a nice work of art with all of your “marks” on it.
A big dance off!
Dancing seems to come naturally to all kids, but sadly, some kids become too self-conscious as they grow, and they lose interest. Dancing is a wonderful activity for kids of all ages, and it’s something you can do in the comfort of your home when you’re bonding with your baby or when you want to include all family. Move your baby’s arms and legs, stretch them out, tickle them, massage, and pretend they are a marionette puppet dancing to the groovy beat. Older kids might love the idea to learn a choreography that you can do together in front of a mirror or record yourself on camera and have a blast.
Spend time outdoors
Babies love spending time outside, breathing in the fresh air, and even soaking up a bit of sun. Fresh air and activity will have your baby sleep better and improve their appetite, and you can use this time to instill some good habits that will stick in with them as they grow. Being indoors can be really boring for kids, especially as they get older, so spending time outside is a good distraction. Learning to walk in the soft grass is great as there aren’t any sharp edges that might hurt them, picking leaves and flowers from bushes in the garden is exciting, as is following bugs and butterflies around. The sounds of chirping birds and buzzing insects might even help calm fussy babies down and lull them to sleep.
Parents whose children love bath time know how excited kids can be when they get to play with water and splash it around. Playing in water is great because it wears off some of their energy, and helps them fall asleep easier. You can instill this love for water early on, if you encourage your baby to play with water. You can do this by willing a shallow pan with a bit of water and letting your baby splash around. When they are learning to stand and walk, you can hold your baby so that their feet are in the pan with water and let them kick and splash – they will love it! If you don’t like the idea of water all over your apartment, you can play these kinds of games in the yard or in the tub in the bathroom.
Encouragement is the key
If you’re hoping to raise a child who will love spending time outdoors and being active, you should start by setting a good example and remember to always encourage them when they make an effort. Your baby will discover the world at their own pace and even though it might be “too slow” for your taste, you should never berate them or try to push them. Letting kids develop at their own pace is the key to raising strong and confident children who aren’t afraid to experiment and explore the world. When you notice that your child is making a mistake during a game, don’t criticize them. Instead, try to show them what they can do differently and encourage them to explore different options.
First-time parents are naturally worried about a lot of things and they are often questioning themselves and their parenting choices. Both self-doubt and insecurities are a natural part of parenthood, but try to relax and trust your choices and instincts. Don’t forget that keeping your children happy and healthy should be your priority, and this isn’t something that can easily be learned from books. Through trial and error, we learn and improve, and if you take your children’s happiness, health, and safety seriously, you will give them the best possible childhoods.