Direct4Baby's Guide to Activities for Babies at Home
Keeping your little one entertained throughout the day can be a monumental task, and unfortunately, with more of us looking to spend time indoors, access to community activity groups remains limited across the country. Living under these conditions is difficult for everyone, especially parents with young ones to take care of, so we at Direct4Baby are stepping in to share our top activities to do with babies at home.
In this post, we will be going through the key stages of activities for babies, giving you ideas for engaging your baby in fun games that will aid their development of important skills including motor, cognitive and communication. This is a learning time for them, and one that not even a global pandemic should interfere with, so read on to learn more about how to bring fun and safe activities into your home.
Enjoy tummy time with your baby, 0-6 months
Whether you are an experienced parent or expecting your first baby, it is likely that you are familiar with tummy time. An incredibly important first step for any baby, tummy time is the time during which your baby is laid on their tummy, allowing them to learn how to move their head, neck and limbs, build their muscles and improve their general coordination. These are the initial building blocks for developing their motor skills, allowing them to prepare for later movement abilities such as sitting and crawling.
While tummy time is an activity that can be enjoyed from birth, it is recommended that you lay them across your chest for the first three months. This closeness allows you to retain greater control over their movements and comfort them during what can be a stressful experience for your baby. The sudden usage of muscles can be frightening, but being close to you, letting them listen to the soothing rhythm of your heartbeat, is an excellent way to bond and keep them calm.
After this initial stage, your baby can progress to floor or cushion based tummy time. This allows them additional freedom to experiment with their movement abilities and, while this is generally less stressful for your baby, it remains incredibly important to provide support and reassurance to your baby throughout tummy time, speaking to them and voicing encouragements.
From this stage onwards, your new task is to build up tummy time and make sure your baby spends a little time every day on their stomach to help build their ability to stay in that position longer. Advice provided by the BBC states that, by 6 months of age, your baby should be getting around 20 minutes of tummy time per day. One of the best ways to encourage your baby to enjoy tummy time and to stay in that position for longer periods of time, is with the use of a specially designed mat such as the Tiny Love Super Mat.
Available online at Direct4Baby for £39.99, the Tiny Love Super Mat is the perfect way to entertain your little ones and easily extend tummy time. Featuring 8 different activities to capture your baby’s attention, including a mirror, a crinkly playful star and a star teether to satisfy sensory stimulation, your baby will have every opportunity to build their movement skills with this exciting play mat.
Progress to upper-body activities with your baby, 5-12 months
Once your baby gets to around 5 months old, after spending plenty of time building their muscles and limb coordination through tummy time, they’ll be ready to move onto the next stage of activities at home. This stage, intended to engage their upper-body muscles and further develop their motor skills, is best done whilst seated at an activity table
With full access to a range of toys from a comfortable seated position, activity tables provide a range of opportunities to engage your baby in play. This age is also particularly important for developing the necessary interaction skills which will allow them to begin speaking in another few months time, so choosing a table that includes prompts to speak animatedly with them is also important. It can be worrying for a parent, knowing that their baby is missing out on interaction opportunities outside of the home, so this is an excellent opportunity to engage them in language and teach them the social skills they need.
Choosing the ideal activity table for your baby to use at home is an important decision but it’s hard to go far wrong with the Oribel Portaplay Convertible Activity Table. Themed around the classic Alice in Wonderland tale, this table provides the perfect opportunity to engage your baby’s language and communication skills as you tell them the story of the young girl who fell into Wonderland. Watch them listen to the tale, engaging their upper-body strength to bounce in the chair and play with the themed toys around them.
Further full-body activities for your baby at home, 6 months+
While an activity table is perfect for engaging your baby’s upper body strength and developing their coordination as they reach and play with the toys around them, to develop gross motor skills your baby must have the opportunity to train their whole body. While full-body play arises naturally as your baby grows, the safest way to ensure these skills and muscles are built up is through supervised play with a walker.
Featuring fun batman features such as the chunky wheels and the iconic batman decal, this walker is suitable for use from ~6 months onwards and is designed to captivate your baby’s attention with its variety of lights, melodies and sound effects. Motor skills are given priority with this stroller too, with the lightweight material allowing ease of movement and the three height options accommodating growing legs. The toys built-into the stroller also continue to provide opportunities for upper-body coordination, the twisting of the wheel, the pushing of the buttons and the turn of the key all building finger, wrist and hand movements.
Ensuring your baby has deep, restorative sleep
Just as important for babies as it is for adults, if not more so, the inactivity of sleep is as vital an element to your baby’s development as activities are. Getting a restorative sleep overnight and taking energy-replenishing naps during the day should be a priority of any parent to ensure your baby gets the most out of their playtime as possible.
Babies follow their own natural cycles of sleeping and waking and every baby is different, some sleeping much more than others, so follow the lead your baby sets. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t interfere at all, they will guide you with how much sleep they need, but there are certain encouragements you can do to make the process easier on both you and your baby.
For the first 3 months, it is advised that you try to teach your baby the difference between night-time sleep and napping through the day. You can do this by creating a different atmosphere for sleeping in the night to the day. For example, during the day keep the curtains open to light up the room and don’t worry about creating everyday levels of noise and, at night, turn the lights low, keep quiet and limit your interruptions of their sleep as much as you can.
At 3 months, you can develop your baby’s sleeping schedule further by creating a bedtime routine. There are plenty of things you can include in this routine such as bathing your baby, changing them into their night clothes and reading them a nighttime story or singing them a lullaby. In order to ensure your baby gets the rest they need, we also recommend incorporating the Sleepy Sky Grobag into their nightly routine.
Made of the softest velour, the Sleepy Sky Grobag is for use from birth to 6 months old and is made specifically for helping your little ones doze off quickly. Decorated with lovely fluffy grey clouds and bright stars, this grobag will keep your baby snuggly warm all night long, perfect for those colder winter nights.
Find activities to entertain your little ones with at home at Direct4Baby
Seeking walkers, activity tables and play mats to keep your little one busy and happy at home? At Direct4Baby, we have all you need to support every stage of your baby’s development. Discover our full collection of toys and gifts online.