As a stay-at-home mom, one of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about is how I’m going to entertain my baby during the sweltering Columbia summer months.
There are some great places to visit with your baby (Riverbanks Zoo, SC State Museum…), but dragging a fussy baby in and out of a car, while trying to keep them cool in their carseat in 100-degree weather is a skill that I just haven’t mastered yet. So, below are ten activities you can do AT HOME with your baby that don’t involve a screen and won’t break the bank!
1. Cloud Dough
This baby-safe and super soft dough provides a great sensory experience for babies and older siblings alike! Plus, I bet you already have most of the ingredients on hand! Recipe is HERE.
2. Rice or Pasta Play
This is another super easy and inexpensive sensory activity that babies will enjoy! Just toss some cooked or uncooked rice or pasta in some food coloring (I used about 5-10 drops per cup). Then put it in a dish and let it dry a bit. Allow your baby to explore the textures, colors, and sounds. You could even use various types of pasta or rice for some added fun! Just make sure to monitor your child and use your best judgment in determining if your little one is ready to safely handle small pieces.
3. Jello Dig
For this one, all you need is Jello, some (non-fabric) baby toys, and a container to put everything in. Put the toys in a dish, mix Jello per instructions and pour it on top of the toys. Allow it to set in the fridge for a few hours. Let baby go to town digging their favorite toys out of the delicious treat!
*Put a shower curtain down or make sure you’re on an easy-to-clean floor as this activity gets pretty messy. You could do it outside too.
4. Story Time/Sing-Alongs
Babies love stories, music, and fingerplays. Try planning a daily storytime, great for right before nap time. Read a short book (or two) and then sing some songs to your baby. Your baby will especially love songs with fingerplays … Pat-A-Cake, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Open and Shut Them, Wheels on the Bus, 5 Little Monkeys, If You’re Happy. If you aren’t sure about what a fingerplay looks like just google “baby fingerplays” and check out the videos.
5. Baby Ball Pit
This is the priciest of the activities listed as the balls for the ball pit are somewhat of an investment. I’ve found some on amazon with pretty good reviews and it seems like the good ones hold up well. All you need is a kiddie pool, just fill it up with the colorful ball pit balls and allow your baby to have some fun rolling around. This is a great way for them to explore colors and movements while getting in some physical activity. Plus I imagine the balls are pretty easy to clean in case they somehow got covered in drool, pee, poop, or any combination of those.
1. Ice Cube Painting
This one takes a little bit of planning, so prep the day before. Grab a couple of ice cube trays and fill them up. Tint the water with food coloring or paint (whatever you have on hand) and put them in the freezer overnight. You could insert halved popsicle sticks into them for easier handling, but not necessary. When it’s time to paint I would use thick paper, like cardstock, to prevent ripping or tearing. Now that you’re ready, head outside with your paper and ice cubes and let the heat of the sun and little chubby baby hands do their magic!
2. Observe Fireflies
Few things are as synonymous with childhood summers as fireflies. At dusk wander outside with your little one and take in the beautiful show on display in your own backyard. This is a great, calm activity for right before bed.
3. Bubble Exploration
Most babies are fascinated with bubbles! And the best thing is they’re inexpensive to buy, assuming you don’t already have some laying around. If you’re feeling really ambitious you should check out Pinterest for homemade bubble recipes … I totally plan on trying to make unpoppable bubbles this summer!
4. Play in the Rain
Obviously, use your mommy instincts and make sure it’s safe to be outside (no thunder or lightning). And, personally, I’d avoid cool temps or heavy downpours. But the next time we get a warm day with a nice drizzle, take your little one out to experience the rain.
5. Nature walk
Allow your baby to use their senses to explore the great outdoors. The feel of the grass, the sound of birds, the cool breeze … sounds heavenly! This is also a great time to introduce your baby to new vocabulary. Talk to them about what you’re doing and what you see as you walk around.