Advantages happy baby, happy parents
Disadvantages some activities may be a bit messy
|Value for Money|
Just over a year ago I filled my days with work and not much else, then our much awaited daughter arrived and changed our lives completely. From the day she was born my life was filled with nappies, food and baby sick, now she has reached a year old and is toddling everywhere, so what do we do with our days now?
I am lucky enough to be a full time mum, on the flipside I have plenty of hours to fill with activities that are fun and stimulating, here are some ideas that are great for filling those waking hours, most of them are practically free so you won't be bankrupted!
Singing and music making are great fun, free, educational and a fantastic way to teach your little ones different sounds, words and phrases. Babies and toddlers alike learn well through rhymes as they are simple and easy to remember. Now I hear you saying that you can't sing or that you feel silly singing about three blind mice or making up songs about the bath, well lets face it your little dot is hardly the Simon Cowell and is not going to mind that you are tone deaf, to be honest I have learnt that the funnier the sounds and rhymes the happier the response, accompany your singing with actions and funny faces, you child we soon be joining you in their own way. Singing encourages speech and is completely free! For instruments for tiny people use plastic pots or bottles filled with dried pasta, upturned pots as drums etc, you will soon be well on your way to creating their first band!Expose your child to a wide variety of music, they will love your acoustic all be it rather off key version of pop songs as much as they adore familiar nursery rhymes. If you can sing it's fantastic but really just a bonus!
I am sure you are sat there thinking that I am completely mad suggesting painting with a one year old, I imagine you are envisioning paint smeared everywhere, multicoloured handprints decorating every surface and rainbow coloured clothes. Well I would be lying if I said that you were wrong, but just because it's messy doesn't mean you should avoid it. Painting is a great way to introduce colour to your child, okay so their not Picasso but all the while they are creating that mess they are unwittingly learning. Invest in some non-toxic poster paints, you can usually pick these up quite cheap in your local supermarket or town ( I got a pack of 6 in my nearest Tesco complete with a chunky paintbrush for £2.47.) To protect the house we went outside on a sunny day with a playmat which I covered with towels for padding so that my daughter had a soft surface to sit on, to make sure the towels didn't get ruined we covered them with black sacks and off we went! If you don't have a garden or the weather isn't good then cover your kitchen table with newspaper or black sacks to minimise mess, also the clean up isn't a massive operation as you can just pick it up to reveal a clean table! Lastly I put my little girl in some old clothes and a little apron and had fun!! We didn't achieve any masterpieces but got some really cute handprints that will last forever and some adorable first attempts at painting from my talented toddler.As you can see a fair bit of paint ended up in the mouth (not liked!) and round her face so be sure to have fresh drinking water on hand and a cloth for cleanup after, though to be honest I just dunked her in the bath!!! REMEMBER TO ALWAYS USE NON TOXIC PAINTS.
An inexpensive way to introduce your child to the world of books. By giving your child the opportunity to experience books from a young age you are encouraging them to read, learn about life through pictures and illustration, introducing language and literacy skills. Reading is a great tool and very educational, childrens books are good for stimulating your childs imagination and most librarys have a wide selection of childrens books, including lift the flap books, pop-up books, touch and feel books, noisy books, audio books, dvds, music cd's and card books that can withstand baby handling.
Rather than buying the whole of Waterstones you can loan books and return them when your child has finished to replace them with more.
There are no late fees for books taken out on junior cards at most libraries and many are understanding if some damage is causd by your little monster to the book that you take out.
Membership is a one off cheap fee in return for a library card. Libraries are a source of information and usually have contact information for local parent and baby groups or nurseries, most also have free internet access.
The myths of having to be silent in the library don't usually apply in the childrens section which is usually home to beanbags, brightly coloured displays and minature chairs/tables etc.
My local library runs regular weekly storytime sessions for under fours which are short periods of time (roughly half an hour) in which you sit and listen to a selection of stories read by library staff, they are free, open to parents and children and childminders, grandparents etc, they are a good way to meet people and for your child to develop their social skills interacting with other children and also work on their listening skills. We also go to Bounce and Rhyme sessions which are held once a month, these are musical sessions which run for about an hour and are for under fives. Great for any little ones who love songs, dance and rhyme! These are also free and a great way to meet others.
As far as I am aware a lot of libraries nationwide offer different types of activities for children and their parents, if there is no information available ask the library staff, they won't bite! We live in Derbyshire and each of the libraries has plenty of information available.
Lastly a trip to the library is always a good idea as it is a way to get out of the house for an hour or two and when you return home your child has a selection of new books to enjoy later in the day or week! Just be aware that the loan of audio tapes, cd's and dvd's carries a small charge payable when you take them out.
Obvious I know but easily overlooked. While my daughter may not be old enough to dangle from the monkey bars or clamber on the climbing frames she is old enough to enjoy a push on the baby swings. As she is smaller than say the 2-3 year olds I put her in the baby swing with my jumper or jacket behind her to pad it slighty for her and push her gently, she is unsure of holding on to the bars so I let her hold my hands while she swings, she loves it and giggles her head of while me or her dad pull faces at her as she swings towards us. Trips to the park don't have to be long and are completely free, they are a great way to get fresh air and to burn off energy. Little ones love to toddle around and stopping in the park for fifteen minutes on the way to the supermarket isn't really a hardship when it is keeping your little one amused.Swimming...
Another inexpensive activity ( well after the initial outlay of swimming attire, armbands/swimming seats and swimming nappies). Most pools run baby/toddler play sessions in a heated small pool with large floats to play on. Swimming encourages motor skills and muscle development. It is good fun to go with mum and dad, siblings, friends etc and is fun exercise for all. ALWAYS REMEMBER TO SUPERVISE YOUR CHILD AT ALL TIMES OR LEAVE THEM IN THE CARE OF A COMPETENT ADULT THAT YOU CAN TRUST.ARMBAND AND SWIM SEATS ARE NOT LIFESAVING AIDS AND WILL NOT PREVENT YOUR CHILD FROM DROWNING.Toddler groups/ Parent and Baby groups...
These usually meet once a week and run for an hour and half to two hours, they encourage your child to interact socially with other children of similar ages and learn through play. Many groups are cheap to attend and offer parents and carers the chance to chat to other adults while their child is playing in a safe environment, it is up to parents to supervise their children. Toddler groups offer beverages to parents and more often than not are made up of playing time, a chance for your child to rest with a drink and snack followed by a short musical session of familiar songs and nursery rhymes. For information of local groups you can check your local library or ask your health visitor who will more often than not be able to help you.Play dough...
This can be as expensive or as cheap as you like, you can either purchase it from the shop, it comes in small coloured pots and a range of colours are avavilable with various different shape cutters. Alternatively you can make your own at home using the following recipe...- 1 cup flour
mix all the ingredients together, add food colouring last. Stir them over a medium heat until smooth, remove from the pan and knead until smooth. Store in a plastic bag or airtight container, this recipe will last for a long time. For simpler play dough that will not last just mix two cups of flour with one cup of water.
Have fun, learn through play and enjoy yourself, there are lots of activites out there to be experienced and enjoyed, these are just a few, make the most of your spare time with your children and love every second.
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