Keep Your Baby Entertained Indoors

In case you don’t remember, the groundhog saw his shadow in early February, declaring six more weeks of winter. Whether or not you trust a small animal for your weather predictions, it’s good to be prepared for those cold, snowy days that February and March can bring. When the weather is at its worst, staying indoors with small children can drive you stir-crazy fast. Here are some ways to keep your little ones entertained all day long, and hopefully keep you sane in the process.

Babies love ball. Crumple up old newspaper or wrapping paper into small, easy-to-handle balls and toss them around with your infant. A toddler will love trying to catch and throw the balls, too. Clean-up is easy: when you’re all done, bring out a paper bag and toss the “toys” into a recycle bin.

Cook your way to playtime. Playdough is a perfect standby to give to your small kiddos, but if you want to extend the playtime, consider making the playdough yourself. There are countless recipes for playdough, cloud dough, and slime that are easy to make with simple ingredients that you probably have on hand already. A big bonus to making your own playdough is that you can make it 100% non-toxic.

Have your kiddo create her own bling. Stringing together necklaces isn’t only fun (and time-consuming for the kids!), it’s a great fine motor activity for your child. It’s best suited for ages 18-24 months. Find string or yarn and large beads or thick pasta, and watch your child entertain himself.

Clean-up time can be playtime, too. Maybe not when you legitimately have to get something clean, but your little one can at least pretend to help you when the stakes are low. Give him a water bottle to spray with and some rags and watch him get down to work (and play!).

Boxes are a small child’s dream toy. Did you have a large package delivered recently? Bring the box into the living room, find a pair of scissors and some crayons, and create! Toddlers will be able to help color or design the box, and smaller babies will be interested in crawling and climbing through whatever you make. Some “Boxes for Beginners” ideas to start: a train, a ship, a playhouse, a dinosaur cave, a castle.

Never underestimate the power of a dance party. On those days when you’re stuck inside and everything feels off, a dance party can seriously help you and your baby reset. Put on music you love, or check out more adult-friendly kid bands like The Not-Its and Recess Monkey for music that you won’t mind playing on repeat.

Make your own music. If you’re feeling inspired, you can help your little one make her own instruments, like rain shakers out of rice and paper towel rolls. Or you can hand her a few wooden spoons and a set of bowls. She’ll love making “music,” and you can give yourself permission to put on your headphones during her “concert.”

Let your baby play with his food. As moms, we’re often teaching our babies not to make a mess of dinner. But if your baby is wiggly and needs something different to do, set her in her high chair and give her small scoops of food for her to play with. A dollop of yogurt, some cooked (sauce-free) spaghetti, or tiny cut-up orange slices are all high-sensory foods that she can mess around with.

Enjoy extended bathtime. Set your baby or toddler up in a warm, bubbly bath, whether it’s morning, afternoon, or evening. Let him play as long as he wants, and try giving him different toys to experiment with for water play.

When’s the last time you made a pillow fort? It doesn’t need to be a high-tech fort, but making a small structure with a few pillows or cushions can be a lot of fun for a baby. Find a sheet to hang up and watch her crawl through and explore the new environment.

Reading aloud is good for you and your baby. Cuddle up together with a stack of board books and read aloud together. Babies and toddlers love all kinds of books, and they don’t mind reading the same ones over and over, which means you don’t need a huge variety. Don’t be afraid to make silly voices and sounds, either.