Advice

How to entertain a toddler

Babies are easy to please. No really they are. For most of the first year they lie down in one place and enjoy looking at faces, sparkly dangly things, the sky, lights. And sometimes they sleep.

Even when they start crawling a cardboard box or a wooden spoon will provide hours of entertainment.

Now, I don’t want you to think I’m bringing up Baby B like Oliver Twist. We, along with his family, have bought the little prince rattles, maracas, building blocks, toy animals, a lovely red bus and many more toys.

But he still loved nothing better than chewing on a wooden spoon and then bashing it against the floor. If you took it away and gave it back ten minutes later it was as if he’d never seen a spoon in his life.

However, since he started cruising (that’s walking holding onto stuff) and getting nearer to the big one year milestone he’s starting to get more demanding.

During the week he is with a lovely child-minder who is hot-housing him on our behalf. We get regular updates on Whatsapp and see him at the library, tackling some kind of baby assault course, doing art, and even sat at a piano!

What a lot to live up to.

Since, the start of February I have been doing child care every Friday and I need to come up with some ideas for games so I can watch Entourage put a wash on and hoover the house.

Here are some things Baby B would like to do but we don’t want him to do:

Climb the chimney
Does he think it’s Christmas every day? Was he a chimney sweep in a previous life? Does he want to be Dick Van Dyke and get up on that roof? We can’t ask so we’ll never know. But he does love to hang out in the fireplace.

baby looking up chimney

 

Chase the cat
One day he’ll catch one but for now they are faster and can climb higher.

baby chasing cat

‘Help’ us empty the dishwasher. 
Getting children to help around the house is great but despite his enthusiasm Baby B is still a bit young. Not that he agrees.

baby helping with chores

So here are my top 5 toddler entertainment ideas (which I will be testing over the coming weeks):

1. Sorted! 
Around now most babies go through a little neurological leap and instead of trundling around destroying everything like Godzilla they start to want to sort things. This is sometimes called the world of categories.

Baby B will now sit happily for up to ten minutes playing with these brightly coloured crab cup things that go in the bath. The other night I couldn’t get his attention he was so obsessed. I let the water out to see if he’d notice but he just sat there in the empty bath, trying to work out which one went in which.

You could try giving your sorter a Tupperware box filled with odds and ends that can be safely gummed. Different sizes, shapes and colours seem to be the key. Maybe you’ve got some different shaped and coloured non-breakable containers with lids? You could try this with food – different veggies or fruit. You never know, some of it might even get eaten!

2. Bangin’ tunes
For a while now Baby B has been obsessed with Sing by Ed Sheeran. Whenever we put it on he stops what he is doing tootles over to the cupboard that the stereo is on and stares up at it while stamping his feet. I’m keen to encourage this love of rhythm but I think practice and copying is key. He hasn’t got the hang of clapping yet but that beloved spoon and an upturned tupperware box make a great drum.

3. Living in a box
Our old friend the cardboard box can now take on a whole new life. It now becomes a treasure chest filled with things to take out and put back in again. Or a hiding place for a game of peepo. Baby B loves things disappearing and coming back again now. A favourite game is for him to stand in the box. I say ‘Doooowwwwnnn’ very slowly and we both duck down. Then I say ‘Up!’ quickly and we pop up. This is hilarious for him every single time. I can keep it up for at least twenty reps before the novelty wears off.

4. The three Rs
That’s reading, (w)riggling, and saying Rrrrrrrraaaarrr. I love books, always have done so I’ve been very keen to get Baby B interested as soon as possible. We try to sit and read a book together but usually within 30 seconds he’s wriggling to get off my knee. So for now I am content to let him explore books under supervision. He started off hurling them around but in the last couple of weeks page turning has occurred. And I think we’re starting to see the beginning of what I hope will be a lifetime’s enjoyment.

5. The great beyond
Finally, now the days are getting warmer I also think it’s time we went out on some adventures together. We live in London – well just on the event horizon – but there is not a lot on the doorstep; it’s a bit of non-descript suburbia rather than one of those cute London villages you see on that Kirsty and Phil. There’s a park with some bashed up swings. Occasionally if we go for a walk there we see another parent but it’s mainly men walking fierce looking dogs so I’m not that keen.

When Mrs B was on maternity leave I know she found the lack of options quite demoralising at times. Some of you lot probably felt the same. It’s bloomin’ boring sometimes isn’t it? She did manage to find one brilliant group called HeartBeeps however which has classes for babies and toddlers based around group singing and sensory play.

Fortunately I have the Internet to guide me in my quest and I’ve found what look like some good websites to try and help us out.

 

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