One of the secrets to a smooth parenting journey is having lots of things to entertain your baby. When I was pregnant, I assumed that diaper bags were for diapers. Maybe some wipes and a change of clothes.
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Wrong! As my daughter has gotten older, I’ve realized that the diaper bag is not just for the bare essentials. My diaper bag is a walking toy box. Since we spend a lot of time at the houses of family and friends, we require sets of toys for everywhere that we spend a lot of time. Jenna is pretty good about playing by herself, but there are times when giving her a toy and letting her entertain herself just isn’t going to cut it. So we’ve figured out how to keep the baby occupied no matter where we go! When Playgro approached us about testing out their Ball Activity Nestand their Jungle Friends Gift Pack, how could we say no? They fit right in at our house while on our quest to keep the baby occupied and engaged. Besides being fun for her, they’re also great infant learning games.
5 Early Learning Activities For Babies:
1. Always carry toys.
We have toys in the car, the diaper bag, and any purse or pocket that will fit one. Generally, Jenna is content playing with a single toy for ten or fifteen minutes, but if we’re going to be stuck somewhere for a long time without ample play space, it’s nice to have a few toys to switch out. We like the Playgro Jungle Friends Gift Pack for on the go! It comes with 3 teething links shaped like hands, 2 animal finger puppets, and two animal wristbands. The wristbands are perfect for grocery shopping or dining out, because they can’t be thrown on the ground….repeatedly.
2. Learn songs.
We go to a song and movement class for babies at our local library once a week. At first, it was a nice way to get out of the house. Now, it’s a great way to learn new songs to calm and entertain the baby! Jenna loves music, so I’m always willing to burst out in song if it will entertain her– even if it means getting some weird looks in the unmoving line at the grocery store.
3. Clapping games
There’s a reason that Pat-a-cake and Tortillitas are such long-lived nursery rhymes. Babies love clapping games. When Jenna was younger, she loved to watch us clap to the rhymes. Now that she’s older, she claps and babbles right along with us!
4. Have special toys at places you spend a lot of time.
At every place we spend a lot of time, we have a special “big ticket” toy that can entertain Jenna for a long time. Part of the appeal is that she only gets to play with the toy when she’s at a certain place. Part of the appeal is the fact that we invested in grow-with-you toys that work with her as she hits new stages! At mom’s house, her current special toy is the Ball Activity Nest by Playgro. It works as a play gym with or without walls, and as a ball pit with or without hanging toys. We currently use it as a ball pit with hanging toys, and every time we set Jenna on the ground at her grandparents’ house, she crawls straight for it. The Activity Nest comes with detachable hanging toys, a water filled teether, and 32 balls. One word of warning: once your baby learns to throw, there may not be 32 balls in the ball pit anymore.
5. Get them involved
If your baby is anything like mine, they want to be doing what you’re doing. When we’re cooking, Jenna likes to think she’s helping. We set her on the ground with a silicone spatula and a tea towel and let her play along. Sometimes she even gets to bang her spatula on a pan! If we’re vacuuming or cleaning, I like to hand her a hand towel while I’m wearing her in the baby carrier. She thinks she’s cleaning too! When I was young, my mom gave me a toy steering wheel to play with on road trips so I would think I was driving.
How do you entertain your baby? What are your favorite learning activities for infants and toddlers? Do any of these tips work for you?