Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to Entertain a Baby

Subtitle: Things I do to amuse Baby Darling when I need a break from saying "Hi" 4,392 times a day.

I have Googled variations on the phrase "activities to do with your infant" more times than I care to admit. Sometimes, it takes me to blogs with some pretty good ideas. More often, it takes me to some baby website with paid authors who have made lists that always, always include the suggestion "Play Peek-a-boo!" And I always want to leave a comment that says, "Really?? Peek-a-boo?? That's all you've got?? Where do I sign up to get paid to recommend that moms play freakin' PEEK-A-BOO??" Because I think we can all agree that if you are reading an article in order to get ideas on how to fill 10+ waking hours with your baby without going insane, you have probably already played peek-a-boo 14,000 times. Another problem is that most of the activities are really for older babies, and Baby D is only five months old.

Anyway, there are some other blogs out there with good ideas that have worked for me, but I'm going to list a few that I haven't seen elsewhere (although I'm sure they ARE out there, because there aren't really an unlimited number of things you can do to entertain an infant. It's not as if someone's going to suggest that you challenge your baby to a game of Parcheesi.)

1. Mimic - If your baby is in a "talkative" mood, imitate any sound that he makes. My dad says he always did this with my two siblings and me and he swears it's why we were all early talkers. Obviously, there's no way to prove or disprove that theory, but he has a PhD in biology, so I'm going to pretend that makes him an expert in talking to babies. My dad tried it out with Baby D, and Baby D was enthralled, so I've been doing it. He'll make a noise, I'll repeat the noise, and then he'll stare at me for ten seconds trying to figure out what the heck just happened. When I mimic his shrieking noise, he laughs uproariously.

2. Water - Another blog I found recommended that you put a bowl of water on a towel on the floor and then let your baby play in it. That sounded like a great idea to me until I mentioned it to a friend and she said that when she tried it with her son, he grabbed the towel and the whole bowl of water dumped all over the floor. So maybe I won't try that. Instead, I just prop Baby D on the edge of the kitchen sink with his feet under the faucet (with my arm still around him, of course), turn on some warm water, and spray his feet with the sprayer. I actually get bored of this long before Baby D does. Plus, I start to feel guilty for wasting water, and then I flash back to elementary school when if you took too long at the water fountain, some annoying kid behind you would shout, "Save the whales!" like the biggest threat to whales was post-gym-class water consumption. But Baby D loves having his feet sprayed with water until I'm feeling too bored/guilty to continue.

3. Mirrors - I know that every baby blog says this, but it's worth repeating. I stick Baby D in his Bumbo seat in front of our full-length bathroom mirror, and I can almost always buy myself enough time to do my hair and makeup and maybe check to see if anyone commented on the 1300 new pictures of Baby D that I posted on Facebook.

4. Blocks - A lot of blogs and articles suggest that you put a bunch of small toys or blocks in a container and then let your baby take them out or transfer them to another container. But if your baby can't sit up very well yet, this one's hard to do. What I do is put Baby D on his belly, fill a square plastic container with soft/foam blocks, and then turn the container on its side in front of him. They kind of spill out toward him, and he's able to grab them out of the container without being able to sit up.

5. Exercise - I recently mentioned to another mom that I have no time to exercise, and she suggested that I do it in front of Baby D because he would probably think it was funny. And darn her, she was right, so there goes my excuse for not exercising. I dance, Zumba or do jumping jacks in front of Baby D, and he thinks hilarious. (I prefer to think he's laughing with me rather than at me.) Dancing while holding him works, too.

6. Whisper - To be fair, this one actually doesn't work that well for Baby D, but it worked like a charm for my nephew. When he was getting restless and cranky, if you whispered very quietly in his ear, he would stop moving and fussing and become totally entranced. When I try it with Baby D, he whips his head around to see where the sound is coming from and almost breaks my nose. Try this at your own risk.

7. Drink from a cup - Let me start by saying that you really, really shouldn't give water to a baby under three months unless your doctor tells you otherwise, and older than that, they still don't really need water (again, unless your doctor says they do.) But somewhere between four and six months, babies start really paying attention to everything that goes into your mouth, including water. Around four months, Baby D started staring me down every time I'd drink out of a cup, so I decided to give him a sip. I'd hold him, put my cup up to his mouth, and tilt it so that his lips touched the water. The first several times I tried this, he spit the water all over himself and me, but he was very interested in it. Now he'll actually drink a few sips from my cup. The hard part is getting him to let go of it...

8. "Lip-reading" - Baby D loves to touch/grab faces right now. So I'll lay him on his side on my bed and then lay on my side next to him with my face close to his. He always reaches for my face, so I'll put his hand on my lower lip, then I'll just start making consonant noises (ba ba ba ba, ma ma ma ma, etc.) He likes watching and feeling my mouth move while listening to the sounds. Added bonus - I get to lay down!

Does anyone have any other fabulous ideas? What did/do you do to entertain your baby?


Sarah said...

my nephew loved it when i would lay on my back and then put him on my chest and talk. i guess he could feel the vibrations or something, but whatever it was he would stay like that forever. all my brothers and nephews also liked playing airplane (laying on my shins when they were really young and graduating to the soles of my feet as they got older), but my legs would start to kill me way before they got tired of it. and tags. anything with a big tag is always entertaining for infants. and toys that had two tags... the joy was indescribable.

also, i suppose posting a pic f him here might ruin the anonymity, but if it doesn't then you should.

Tova Darling said...

OO, good ideas, Sarah! Funny that you mentioned tags... now that I think about it, Baby D always chews on the tag of his activity mat, which is, of course, the only part of it that they didn't actually design with the intention of it being fun for babies.

I'll have to run the picture idea by Dr. D. Baby D is super cute, so I love posting pictures of him all over creation! (Or, you know, just on Facebook.)

JDaniel4's Mom said...

These are such great ideas! I used a small tub of water on the kitchen floor and some of the water got out, but he had a blast.

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