I had no idea what to do with my first baby when I was at home with her all day in the first six months.
I was exclusively pumping so felt pretty tied to our house in order to keep up with the pumping schedule.
Being at home with a baby all day can be pretty hard work, especially in the early months when they are giving very little back to you.
They don’t talk back, they don’t do move much, or at all, and they can’t focus on any activity for very long.
I had no idea how to make the most out of time with my baby, as I had never spent any extended time looking after one before having my own. It’s a frustrating thing and even made me feel a little guilty at times as I thought I should be doing something to entertain her.
Now I’ve had two children, I know a little more about what on earth to do with children to keep them, and you, stimulated all day.
Here are some fun, easy and mostly free activities that your baby will love.
1. Tummy time
Even doing tummy time for just 10 minutes here and there makes a big difference to your baby’s development. Plus you can make it really fun by holding out toys for them, dangling ribbons in don’t of them, anything that will catch their interest and encourage them to reach out.
2. Scent exploration
Get some fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil and parsley and hold them under your baby’s nose while explaining to them what each one is. This is a brilliant sensory activity.
3. Have a splash
Get a shallow tray or bowl and fill It with water. Get your baby’s legs out of their baby grow or trousers then kick their legs in the water. They will be fascinated by the noises and movement of the water.
Put on your favourite tunes and have a good boogie. Carry your baby around with you or let them watch you. Baby’s absolutely love the rhythm of music and this is a fabulous bonding activity, plus a good chance for a cuddle.
5. Tour of the house
Carry your baby from room to room and tell them what each room is for. The more you talk to them on a regular basis, the more you’re contributing to their language development.
6. Create a sensory box
Get a small box and fill it with all kinds of household and outdoor objects. Things like wooden spoons, sponges, scarves, a pine cone, feather, artificial flowers and stones are perfect. Think about different textures and weights.
7. Different sounds
Talk to your baby about the different sounds that things make and imitate them. You could talk them through the different sounds farm animals make, or the noises you hear coming from outside.
8. Nursery rhymes
The sound of nursery rhymes is very appealing for small babies because they’re just fascinated by rhythm and music. Get a small book of nursery rhymes if you’re not sure of all the words. My toddler still loves reading her nursery rhymes book now.
9. Sing your favourite songs
Sit on the sofa or floor and have a little sing along together. Pick your all-time favourite songs to make it fun for you as well.
10. Have a chat
Nope they won’t talk back but babies are good listeners. Tell them about your pregnancy, your job, your family, your friends. Tell them whatever you want, without fear of judgement.
They will love the sound of your voice and you can get a few things off your chest.
11. Rustling paper
Get some tissue paper and put it in your baby’s hands or near their feet so they can shake and kick it to make it rustle. The noise will fascinate them and it teaches them about cause and effect.
12. Balloon kicking
Get a balloon or two filled with helium and tie them to your baby’s feet. They will love being able to make the balloons move. This is another good cause and effect lesson.
13. Mirror mirror
You could combine this one with tummy time by putting a mirror on the floor by your baby’s head in their line of vision or hold it up in front of them. Babies are fascinated by their reflection.
14. Shake a rattle
Rattles are so perfect for babies as they appeal to several of their senses – touch, sound, sight and taste when they stuff it in their mouth.
15. Baby massage
If you research groups in your area you may be able to find a local course for this. But you don’t have to take an entire course to be able to do this for your baby. Grab some baby oil and massage their tummy gently before spreading to their arms and legs, giving their hands and feet a good run too. It’s a fab thing to do before bedtime or nap time to get them relaxed.
16. Making faces
Lie down on the sofa with your legs bent and pop your baby onto your tummy with their head resting on your knees. Then pull faces and see if you can find one that makes your baby laugh.
17. Grabbing baskets
Get three or four small boxes or baskets and fill them with similar things. One might have large beads, another chunks of paper or cardboard, and another may have bits of pasta. Let your baby explore each one either on their tummy or by showing them everything in the baskets. Of course do supervise your child to make sure they don’t eat any of the items in the baskets.
18. Rattle socks
These are great fun and are sold quite widely in the shops. Some have little bells in too. Pop them on and let your baby have a kick about with them on the floor.
19. String of beads
Get a string of play beads or decorative ones and hand them to your baby. Run the beads through their hands and dangle them in front of their line of vision.
20. Finger puppets
You can either make some or buy them. Create a fun puppet show or simply invent different voices for each of the characters and have them chat to your baby. This is great visual stimulation for your little one.
21. Fly away
Lie down on the floor and lift your baby up above your head. Try adding a verbal cue like “three, two, one blast off!” as well. This is one to do with a baby who can hold their head up, so not suitable for a newborn.
22. Curl up and cuddle up
Skin to skin contact is a brilliant way of bonding with your baby. It feels great for both your baby and you. But if it’s chilly it doesn’t have to be skin to skin. Find a comfy spot and just enjoy having a cuddle, they won’t be this small forever. You could even pop your favourite box set on the telly.
23. Hiding toys
Get some of your baby’s favourite toys and hide them under a cloth or blanket. Make a big drama out of asking where they have gone. Then lift the cloth to reveal them saying “ta da”. This is a great learning experience for babies, as it can teach them that things still exist when they can’t see them.
24. Blowing raspberries
At around six months your baby should be able to return raspberries and they will love exchanging them with you. But before then they will find the noise interesting, and funny.
25. Family photo albums
Get out your favourite family photo albums and talk to your baby about who everyone is and where the photos were taken.
Make the bath lots of fun with toys, songs and bubbles.
27. Round and Round the Garden
Get your baby’s foot of hand and draw circles with your finger while singing “round and round the garden, like a teddy bear”. Then walk your fingers up their arm or tummy before tickling under their armpit while singing “one step, two step, tickley under there”.
28. Have a garden picnic
If the weather is warm enough put a blanket out and lay your baby on it. Enjoy your lunch outside while chatting to your baby about all the different plants and trees in the garden.
Help your baby to roll from their back to their tummy and then return to their back again.
30. Get creative with their toys
Use your baby’s stuffed animals to tell a little story. You can put on different voices and create characters with each of them. The visual stimulation will be fab for your baby.
31. Blow bubbles
All children are fascinated by bubbles. You can get bubble machines that do all of the hard work for you or go for the traditional pots.
32. Activity mat
The baby gym or activity mat is a must-have piece of baby gear in my opinion. The ones with arches that dangle toys are fantastic as they can keep your baby hypnotised for ages. Lots of them have different textures of fabric too which is perfect for stimulating your baby’s sense of touch.
Hand your baby toys, rattles or other objects they can easily grasp. They can grip and hang on to things from a very early age.
34. Copy cat
Hold your baby up facing you or hold them facing outwards in front of a mirror so they can see their face and your face. Copy every facial expression and sound they make.
35. Texture play
Get some corrugated cardboard, tissue paper, rough drawing paper and anything else you can think of. Let your baby explore the different textures with their hands and feet.
36. Get moving
Pedal their legs and flap their arms gently. Move their limbs for them to help them stretch them out and see what they can do with them.
37. Read a book
There’s so many amazing books for babies. The choice is endless and reading from an early age is a fantastic thing to do for your baby. When they’re a few months old they will be able to help turn the pages too.
38. Make up a story
Invent a story involving your family or a different cast of characters and tell it to your baby. They just love hearing the sound of your voice.
39. Name the body parts
Lie your baby down on their play mat or changing mat and name their body parts while also pointing them out on yourself. So nose, mouth, ears, hair. You could even sing head, shoulders, knees and toes to them.
No, your baby can’t draw yet of course! But they will love to watch you making marks on a piece of paper. You can always put a pencil or pen in their hand and help them draw lines on a piece of paper.
41. Surf the internet
You might have a bit of internet shopping to do or need to catch up on emails. Your baby will be so intrigued by the computer. Once they get a bit older you can let them try typing on the keyboard.
I hope these have given you lots of ideas for what to do with your baby at home. Check out these posts for more fun activity suggestions: