Play ideas to get your baby laughing and learning
“We enjoy time together in the lift in our apartment building!” says Sheryl, 35, mum to Katy, 7 months. “Katy loves the low noise and slow motion and when I put her in front of the mirrors, she laughs at our reflections.
“I hold her hand and push the buttons with her – and as they light up, she waves her arms and legs around and makes squawking noises! We’ve spent ages in there, just going up to the roof and back down again – without even setting foot outside the lift!”
Libraries all over the UK offer Rhymetimes activities for babies under 12 months. While your baby sits on your knee or crawls about among the books, an experienced library storyteller recites simple songs and nursery rhymes and encourages you and your baby to join in with the accompanying actions.
"Socialising makes mothers happy,” says Cynthia Masters-Waage, psychotherapist and antenatal teacher. “As mums and babies are so in tune, when a mother feels less isolated, her baby will feel calmer and happier, too.”
Ask at your local library for times or visit Bookstart.
For petting zoos, aquariums, farms and wildlife parks in your area, try Children’s Leisure or Kids Country.
If the weather’s just too miserable to go out, try some online fun with Farm Animal Match Game - you can match the baby animals to their mums on your computer screen. Or print the pictures off, try out your best animal noises and play the game on the floor.
Join a Tiny Talk baby signing class. It’s more than just learning to communicate with your baby – after each session, there are toys for your baby to play with while you get to know the other mums other over coffee, tea and biscuits.
“Lisa and I meet friends at our local pub,” says Eve, 39, mum to Lisa, 10 months. “Since the smoking ban, the pub has become the perfect place to meet other mums. In summer there’s also the beer garden, which has lots of running-around space. It makes me feel more connected to my old life.”
“Babies love strong rhythms and simple melodies,” says Dr Pat Spungin, child psychologist and author. “They’re stimulating and exciting, or they can be calming, soothing the baby into a relaxed state. Listening to your favourite song while holding your baby and patting him will make you both happy.”
Try a local baby music class such as Jo Jingles or Monkey Music. Your baby will love shouting along to music.
“Tim loves listening to music at Baby Loves Disco,” says Anthea, 36, mum to Tim, 3 months, and Janie, 4. “It’s a real disco with baby change and chill-out areas. It’s not too loud so he can sleep. There’s great music, healthy snacks and even a bar for the adults! It’s great fun – the whole family can enjoy it together.”
White noise CDs featuring the sounds of washing machines and tumble dryers may be popular with your baby. Constant hums make your baby feel safe and happy.
“White noise reminds babies of noises they heard in the womb, so they immediately respond to it,” says Cynthia Masters-Waage, psychotherapist and antenatal teacher.
If standing by the washing machine doesn’t appeal, try Little Sleepy Head white noise CDs or save money and record your own.
“I love dancing and was keen to get my baby into it as soon as possible. Then we found Salsa Babies, a Latin dance class in London for mums and babies in slings. Bella’s either whooping with joy, or sound asleep from all the movement. It’s a fantastic workout for me too – not only dancing, but carrying the weight of my baby.”
Karen, 39, mum to Eileen, 3 month
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