Lockdown 2020 part 2 has really kicked the behind of every parent who is now in charge of 24/7 entertainment for their baby.....again! It’s not that parents don't want to be their child’s most significant chance of entertainment and fun, but the world is different, and it’s not as kind to parents as it used to be. Instead of taking our babies to the park and to playgroup, to soft play areas and to sensory rooms, we are stuck in lockdown. Sensory play is used to entertain baby and show them exciting textures and colours, and while you can imitate a lot of the activities for baby in the home, it doesn't mean that it’s easy.
Parenthood can be a lonely time in life. While many people are using lockdown to enjoy themselves and binge-watch their favourite shows on Netflix, parents have a different experience. Instead of being out in groups and meeting friends for picnics in the park with other parents, parents are indoors, and their only company are their babies. Sure, Zoom play sessions are a thing, but it’s not the same as actually socializing with other parents going through the same worries and struggles. So, the big question on the mind of all parents is how do you keep your baby entertained during lockdown 2020?
Luckily, babies and young toddlers need very little to keep them entertained, but you do need more than just you so that you get a bit of a break every now and then. With that in mind, let’s take a look at eight solid ways you can entertain baby right now.
If there is one thing that is common with all babies and toddlers, it’s that music is very well-loved. It doesn't matter whether that’s with musical instruments likewhistles and drums, or soft music played with lights and patterns, babies love music. Not only that, but they love active music that they can take part in. Hand a one-year-old a wooden spoon and a pan, and they’re making their own very loud music! Babies bop to music, toddlers learn how to dance, and parents get to see the pure joy that music elicits. All it takes is the addition of sound to make a regular play session one that is packed with fun and entertainment. Babies love your voice, so when you sing along to some of the classic nursery rhymes, they’ll light up even more. Music and singing engage your baby and makes them happy, which is why it’s one of the best ways to entertain.
Most parents use reading as part of a soothing bedtime routine. Thankfully, reading is for way more than just bedtime! Books can be for any time of day, and as there are noisy books and crunchy books, light-up books and funny books, younger children get a lot of sensory play out of them, too. Find books with textures and flaps to lift, repeating rhymes and songs. Reading doesn't have to be boring and slow, and even the babies who are younger can get something out of the colors and the sound of your voice. Choose counting books and books with sequencing to really get your toddler’s speech going!
We’ve talked about sensory play in this article so far, but have you considered how water can make a massive difference to their playtime? There are excellent Tuff Trays and even regular kitchen pans that become a magical world when you just add water. If you want to really step it up, for older babies aged 1-2 years old, you could fill the bath a couple of inches with water and food coloring, throw in some cooked spaghetti and edible glitter and create themed bath times purely for play. They’ll get so much from the sensations and textures that you add, and it’s a fun way to enjoy some splashing. Messy water play and paddling pools in the garden are both fun things to do. Add some bubble bath to the outdoor paddling pool in the sunshine, and you can really make it fun!
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!
Babies and toddlers can really be confused if they are used to heading to playgroups and sessions, and then this suddenly stops. To avoid the confusion, join in some online Zoom playgroups, where you video call other parents and sit with your babies to do nursery rhymes, chat and play. It may not be the same, but it’s something! You can even involve the family in these Zoom sessions, too, and it helps your baby to remember others who love them from a distance during a lockdown.
Every parent knows that it’s easy to become overwhelmed with a bank of toys, but it’s even easier to manage lockdown with all those toys you usually curse at! The
best thing to do is to put half of them away for half the week. Leave out some toys for your baby to enjoy, and then rotate them every couple of days. They’ll forget which toys they have quite quickly, and you can then keep them consistently entertained. Bring out the toys every few days, and your baby will always have something “new” to enjoy.
It may not be easy to get out and enjoy picnics in the park or sensory classes, but you can still keep a journal and photo album for your activities in lockdown. These may be strange lockdown times, but that doesn't mean that you can’t capture the memories together!
Lengthen Your Meals
For babies over six months of age, weaning to solid food is a fun time of their life. If your toddler takes an age to eat their meals, now is the time to let them try a variety of food (messy and otherwise!) and relax a little. Let them get spaghetti-messy and splash in yoghurt; it’s time to let them have fun rather than be regimented with meal times.
If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor space, get the kids out in the garden. Create a den from sticks, but let them feel the autumn leaves and create a mud kitchen for older toddlers to let them get mucky! They have space to toddle and run, and you can even put some of your activities outside to enjoy in the fresh air.
Lockdown 2020 part 2 is not easy, but that doesn't mean that you can’t still have fun and make it as light as possible in your home.
You can only do your best!