Whilst many people across the globe are using this period of lockdown to learn a new skill, practice a hobby or binge watch the latest releases on Netflix, the reality of staying at home with a baby or toddler is somewhat different!
Many parents have realized over the last few weeks that parenting young children during a lockdown is pretty much a full time job in itself, and when you are limited to staying at home and can no longer have the support of friends and family, thinking of ways to keep your baby and toddler entertained can be pretty tough!
That said, babies and toddlers actually need very little in order to be mentally stimulated, and there are lots of quick and easy ways you can keep your baby and toddler happy and healthy during the lockdown.
Name that Tune
Babies and toddlers love music. Whether it’s watching online baby classes, singing nursery rhymes together, banging on the kitchen pots and pans with a wooden spoon, playing musical instruments, or dancing around the living room in your arms, the simple addition of sound and rhythm is sure to raise a smile. Music is a great activity for you too, releasing endorphins that will help calm and brighten your mood. Babies will be soothed by the sound of your voice, so singing along to some classics like Wind the Bobbin Up and Wheels on the Bus, is a great way to engage their attention and encourage them to clap along.
Bring out the Books
Books don’t have to just be part of your baby’s bedtime routine. At a time when the world may feel like a pretty confusing place, don’t underestimate the power of snuggling up on the sofa and reading together, looking at the pictures, lifting flaps or exploring different textures on the pages. Books with repeating rhyming text are great for reading aloud together and can help expand toddler’s vocabulary by introducing basic words, sounds and sequences such as counting and the alphabet.
Just add water
When it comes to entertaining babies and toddlers at home, water can be your best friend! From messy water play, a paddling pool in the garden, “helping” with the washing up, or simply splashing with some of their favorite toys and some bubbles in the bath, water can have an almost instant calming effect if your child is fractious or restless.
Toddlers may become a bit confused about the sudden changes in routine such as why their grandparents and cousins aren’t coming around to play. Making the most of technology and face timing / zoom calling regularly can help bring back some of those familiar elements of their day that are missing; as well as support those family members who may be feeling slightly lonely or isolated at home alone. Sharing drawings or asking relatives to read a bedtime story over FaceTime can be a heart-warming experience for all concerned.
Capture the memories
As strange as this time may be, it is also extra time at home with your little ones which you otherwise wouldn’t have had. For your child, who is unaware of what is going on in the world, this time with their parents and carers is a blessing. Capture the moment by taking lots of photos, keeping a lockdown journal or creating a cheap and simple milestone keepsake with paint footprints or a salt dough handprint. When they are older, this is a lovely way to look back and tell them about the time when the world stood still.
No one said that this was going to be easy, but keep smiling, don’t put too much pressure on yourself and be kind. We’re all just doing the best we can!