Fun And Creative Ways To Keep Your Baby Busy
Parents! Are you at your wit’s end thinking of ways to keep your mini ‘couch potato’ off the ‘idiot box’? We bring fun and creative ways to keep your toddler busy. Say goodbye to TVs and smartphones.
By Ashwin Dewan
Keeping your curious little George engaged and entertained – all without the help of the television or other electronic gadgets might sound a wee bit difficult. Yes, it can be a challenge in itself. But It need not be actually!
Granted that in today’s age, the television or the mobile phone is a ubiquitous go-to medium for a hassled you to drive away your toddler’s boredom or keep her occupied while you get your work or dinner done. But we are all well aware about the harmful effects of screen time on kids. We have been warned to limit its usage, so wouldn’t it be amazing to find some non-screen ways to keep your energetic little one busy?
Well, all you have to do is tap into your creativity and look around. Almost everything that you need to keep your toddler engaged is right around the house. To help you with that, here is a compilation of some fun and creative ideas you could try. Try a couple and watch the minutes fly by – and before you know your never-ending list of errands to do will be done!
Top creative and fun ways to keep your baby occupied
- Toys with sound and light: One fun and attractive method to keep your baby occupied is to give them toys that have sound and light. These toys stimulate learning and brain development. Rattles, a baby carry-along piano, a glowing-lights ball, a baby plastic guitar toy, jingle bells, stuffed animals with buttons which the baby can press to produce sounds, spinning light toys, etc. are some toys with sound and light that will keep your little one busy for hours.
- Role play: Perhaps, the easiest and fun way to keep toddlers occupied is through role play. As the name suggests, kids can choose to be anything – from a knight in shining armour to a fiery dragon, from a butterfly to a fish, from a sunflower to even a magician, the possibilities are endless. Role play encourages imagination and creativity, supports social and emotional development and improves language and communication skills. Let your baby creativity run wild as he pretends that he is a dragon who is spewing out huge balls of fire from his mouth and witness the fun that follows. The plus side is babies being occupied for hours as they escape into their own fantasy world where one can be just about anything.
- Create a whole new world of fun with cushions: Have you, for once, viewed the cushion as something more than a decorative item? Well, it can be used to do a lot of things for babies and toddlers. Try to assemble cushions on fours sides of a designated area in your house with an opening. Take a bed sheet and cover the cushion giving the entire set up a feel of a roof. Tell your baby that it is his or her own castle and watch them while away the hours engrossed in their ‘castle’. You can also build an imaginary wall with the cushions and tell your little one that the wall is not to be crossed as there are ‘monsters’ on the other side of the wall. Who would not want their own castle? Babies sure do!
- Playing with utensils and small boxes: If you can spare some utensils and empty boxes, babies can keep on playing with them for hours. It enhances their observations skills – the ‘thud’ sound a utensil makes when dropped, the ‘clank’ sound emanating from a utensil when banged. With small, cardboard boxes, babies do just about anything – fold the box, tear off small pieces of the box but in the end, they will be occupied for hours as they tap into their creativity.
Helping in the kitchen: Wait, before you get confused, we are no talking about the heavy ‘kitchen’ stuff. Just give your baby (again, under constant watch) simple tasks like shelling peas and watch them remain engrossed for some time. Ramalakshmi Nagarajan, a content analyst at an IT major, says, “I often reach home late after work and hardly have time to cook food. Most of the cooking is done by the maid. However, on weekends I make it a point to prepare delicious food for my family. My one-year-old son helps me during this time by shelling the peas. Although, he takes him own time to do it, yet, it keeps him busy as I go around cooking. However, I constantly look at him to ensure he does not swallow the peas.”
- Make use of your loose change: If you have a pile of coins lying around at home, weave them into an activity for your baby. Teach her to pile coins one on top of the other to build a tower. If it falls, the baby can start again. A great way to keep your little one occupied for hours. A word of caution, however, like some of the above-mentioned activities, this is one activity that requires constant supervision.
- Use the kitchen or bathroom sink: If the weather outside is too cold or it is raining, do not fret. Children love to splash water and play around. Under your strict supervision, fill up the kitchen sink with water and provide sponges, spoons, measuring cups, toys that will keep him or her occupied.
- Homemade musical shakers: Ever little munchkin loves to play something. As a parent, you can provide him or her with a plastic container that has rice or beans inside. Tightly shut the containers and give it to your baby who can just shake the container to create music and have fun.
- Have fun with fridge magnets: Get letter and animal fridge magnets to please your bored baby. Tell them to match the letters with the animals and lay back as the little one takes time to do the act. A fun act that is extremely educative as well.
- Lock and unlock: One good activity to develop your baby’s motor skills is to hand them a lock and a key or a nut and a bolt and just let them play. Babies and toddlers are fascinated by the simple act of unlocking something. You can give them a bag of keys (again, under strict supervision) from which they must pick the key that unlocks the lock.
Tried and tested ways to keep your toddler busy
- Play-dough: Squish, squash, roll, flatten. No, we are not talking about a wrestling match but a playdough. It is one activity that will keep little hands occupied for hours. It will make children put on their creative cap as they think of the various things that they can make with the play dough. A messy activity (that babies will have plenty of fun with), parents can always designate an area for the playdough activity to contain the mess.
- Stickers: Want to teach your baby the names of different fruits and vegetables. Use stickers. This activity is a fun way to teach your kids about the tiger, the elephant, pineapple, orange, etc. It is a fine motor activity and will keep the baby occupied for hours altogether.
- Matching objects: With many matching and sorting flashcards available in the market, matching objects is one activity that will ensure hours of fun for the baby. While matching objects to pictures, babies also practice visual discrimination and learnt to connect real objects to print. This activity also helps the baby improve language, concentration and memory. Parents, on their part, can provide a wide range of activities that encourage the baby to go ahead and match objects, pictures, sounds and words.
- Colouring and painting: A time-tested fun and creative activity, colouring and painting will keep your baby occupied for hours. Set up an area for your little Picasso in the making and stock up on colouring books, painting materials, pencil crayons, markers, stencils, felt and glue. This activity assists in fine motor development and helps a baby develop good finger grip.
At the end of the day, it is important that babies and toddlers engage in meaningful activities that combine fun and education. Each of the above activities fulfill these two criteria and ensure that the next time your little one reaches out for an object to play with, it won’t be the television remote.
Note: Parental supervision is recommended in any activity involving your toddler.
Also read:Free Play: Why It's Good For Your Child
About the author:
Written by Ashwin Dewan on 5 September 2019.
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