As moms I’m sure we’ve all witnessed the phenomenon of our little ones being more interested in the box a toy came in than the toy itself right? You’ve picked out a special toy and upon getting it out, the first thing they reach for is actually the packaging. The cardboard box, the tissue paper, the bubble wrap, the bow- everything except the toy itself. It makes for some good entertainment during Christmas but it’s also something we can capitalize on when we need some new ways to entertain our babies.
Figuring out what to do with a young baby all day can be tough. They don’t talk yet, they may not even be mobile! But their brains are working hard and learning so much and sure do want to be entertained! We want to provide lots of new experiences and sensations but we don’t want to be getting new toys all the time either. Additionally, we know that a baby who is engaged during their awake time usually sleeps better during sleep time and we all want that, right? Luckily for us, our babies can be just as entertained by some “toys” we can find in our own homes! I’ve rounded up a few ideas of homemade entertainment options to try with your little one. You already have things around your home to keep them engaged and learning during those awake hours!
I recommend keeping your Tupperware in a low cabinet or drawer. Tupperware may just look like something to keep your leftovers in. But to a baby, it can also be blocks to stack, drums to play, or something unbreakable to throw on the ground. You may need to get into the habit of rinsing your Tupperware before using it again since it will also probably be a teether. But it’s be a great way to entertain a baby in the kitchen while you get dinner ready or load the dishwasher. Plus, by keeping it on a low shelf/cabinet, it becomes an activity they can access independently as they become mobile.
Paper of all kinds can be wildly entertaining. My little one is particularly fond of the paper they have at the doctors office which I’m pretty sure is the same as the parchment paper I keep in the kitchen. But giving your little one a variety of different paper materials to explore can be a fun sensory experience as they crunch, crinkle, ball up and tear the pieces. You could include tissue paper, parchment, construction paper etc. With this “toy” you’ll want to pay close attention that they aren’t eating the paper (it’s not just my son right?) so it’s more of an activity to do together rather than independently. You can model different motions with the paper that make different sound for your little one to mimic!
Repurpose Empty Containers into Homemade Rattles
Before you throw out the empty oatmeal canister, think again! That can become a homemade rattle/shaker in seconds. Throw in something that makes noise when you shake it! You could add a few small blocks for a louder noise, or some cupcake liners that will make a swishy sound when shaken. If you add something small like beans for a rattle sound, be sure to duct tape the lid and supervise them to be sure they don’t get a hold of a choking hazard. These containers can be used as noisemakers or for rolling back and forth (like a pringles can or oatmeal container).
While I do think giving a little one a full tissue box and letting them pull one tissue out after another in amazement would be entertaining… it wouldn’t be very practical. But when you do finish a tissue box you could create your own play version for them to enjoy! You could us pieces of felt or fabric squares as the “tissues”. Then, they could practice pulling them out over and over! Not only will it be entertaining, it will also work their fine motor skills as they grasp the object and pull.
Don’t worry, I’m not advocating for unsupervised play with electricity. But letting your little one help you turn the light switches on and off can be big fun for them! Take a tour of your house, checking out each room, talking to them about what you see. And let them practice flipping the switches! It will also work on developing their understand of cause and effect. Fair warning that once they realize what those objects do they may want to turn on and off every light switch in the house every time you walk in the room.
Finding ways for your little to interact with water can provide countless minutes of fun! One option is to hop in the tub in the middle of the day. Bath time doesn’t just have to be reserved for bedtime! If a full on bath is too much but you want to get in on the water fun, try this instead. Fill a cookie sheet or shallow tray with water and let your little one splash around! This is a great tummy time activity for reluctant tummy timers too! Putting the tray within reach in front of them will encourage moving into a prone position while on their belly. It will also encourage weight shifting as they reach out to make those splashes. If you have an independent sitter, you could also give them a small bucket with water and different items like sponges, and measuring spoons to play with.
**ALWAYS supervise your child closely and do not leave the unattended when in or near water.
So next time you feel like your baby is bored of their toys, or you just can’t listen to that musical toy even one more time…grab an idea from this list and enjoy!