While many new parents dream of the day they can share passions and hobbies with older kids, planning family activities suitable for babies can be a challenge. Barbara Rowley, contributing editor at Parenting.com, reminds parents that simplicity is best when it comes to family activities. There's no need to spend a lot of money or plan elaborate escapades because what your baby needs most is your love and attention.
Babies love to be outside, taking in the sights and sounds. The key is to plan the outing when your baby is on his best behavior. Usually, this time falls after a feeding, when his belly is full, and he's ready to explore for a little while. Pack your baby in the stroller or backpack, along with extra diapers, a change of clothes and an emergency bottle if necessary, and enjoy a stroll or a hike. If you have older children, a visit to the park will likely thrill your babe, even if he's too young to enjoy any of the equipment. Narrate what you see as you walk, telling him about the trees, sky, birds or the sun. What you say is not important. Your baby's language skills will begin to form just by hearing your voice.
Family time with your baby can be as simple as gathering the whole family on the bed or the couch. Shut off the television, computer and radio to really focus in on your family. Sing songs, recite silly rhymes that include your baby's name, bounce her on your knee, play peek-a-boo or make a game of passing her back and forth with your spouse. Just giving her your individual attention nurtures her self-esteem and strengthens the bonds she is forming with her parents.
Take a Dip
If your baby delights in his baths, he might enjoy swimming with you at a local pool or lake. Check the temperature of the water, ensuring that it's warm enough to keep your baby comfortable, and consider asking management about chemicals in the water. If your baby's skin becomes irritated, remove him from the pool and rinse off with warm water. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns parents that drowning is the leading cause of death among children. Take extra precautions by holding on to your baby at all times and keeping his head supported. Teach your baby to feel comfortable in the water by bouncing, blowing bubbles, splashing and singing for as long as he is interested.
Hit the Town
Babies enjoy riding in a stroller or walking around in a baby carrier because there's so much to see, smell and hear. Take your baby out to a local farmer's market, to the mall, or attend an outdoor concert. Plan proactively by bringing extra bottles, diapers and clothes. Keep your baby's needs at the forefront of your mind, checking in for signs of fussiness. It's best to leave before your baby has reached her maximum tolerance. As long as you don't have high expectations to check off an entire shopping list or listen to hours of music, you'll find yourself enjoying some relaxing family time for as long as your babe will let you.