Ways to Say-n-Play with baby 0-6 Months

I blinked and my newborn baby is now six-months-old! I had a friend once tell me the days with a baby are long, but the months are fast! Oh, how true. The past six months gives new meaning to the phrase “time flies.”

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With baby reaching six-months-old, I have been reflecting on her favorite toys and the activities that we have done together. I remember how hard it was to find toys that were both developmentally appropriate and entertaining for her when she was so young. To help out other parents who may be pondering the same thing, I have listed her top 10 favorite toys from the past 6 months. Kid tested; over-analyzing mother approved…

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  • Madame Alexander Play With Me Ladybug – Activity Toy
  • Art for Baby: Helps increase baby’s attention and visual abilities

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I was looking back on my posts since baby girl was born. Below, I have listed links to all the ways we have played over the past 6 months.

Books: Reading aloud to babies and young children well before they are of speaking age is an important bonding experience because it encourages vocabulary development and improves communication skills.

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Smelling Activity: Introducing babies to a variety of smells supports the development of the olfactory system.

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Star Box: Entertainment, attention building, and encourage baby to turn head a certain direction.

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Balloon Kicking: An activity to promote gross motor and cause and effect abilities.

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Ice Painting: An excellent way for your child to experience colors, different sensations (COLD!), and cause and effect (the ice melts to create beautiful art).

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Fall: An outdoor exploring experience to heighten all of baby’s senses.

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Salt Dough Ornaments: A texture and memory making activity.

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Road Trip!: How to entertain baby on a road trip.

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Pulling Box: A tactile and visual experience for baby.

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5 Ways to Say-n-Play Columbus This weekend

Where to Say-n-Play in Columbus this Weekend January 22 – January 24, 2016:

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  1. Clay Ornaments at the Franklin Park Conservatory on Saturday, January 22, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Design your own ornament with air-dry clay and decorative stamps.
  2. Drop-in Snowflake Craft at the Upper Arlington Library – Tremont branch on Saturday, January 23. The weather outside might be frightful but we can stay warm inside. Join us anytime today to celebrate the beauty of winter with this wonderful drop-in craft. We will be transforming coffee filters into unique snowflakes. Supplies available while they last.
  3. Junior Chef Class, Wafflemania!, at Williams-Sonoma Easton on Saturday, January 23 at 10 a.m. Waffles aren’t just for breakfast—you can eat them from morning ’til night! Join us as we prepare waffles for breakfast, lunch, dinner AND dessert. Suitable for ages 5-13
  4. Sensory Friendly Films at AMC Theatres present Norm of the North on Saturday, January 23, at 10 a.m. AMC is proud to partner with the Autism Society to bring you unique movie showings where you can feel free to be you! We turn the lights up, and turn the sound down, so you can get up, dance, walk, shout or sing!
  5. The Columbus Blue Jackets Winter Park opens Friday, January 22 through Sunday, February 21. Check the link for public skate times.

Pulling Box for Baby

At two-months-old, baby girl had so much fun gazing at her star box . However, by the time she was four-months-old, she started rolling about and quickly outgrew her star box. She continued to enjoy watching the lights, but she needed something to do with her hands. I wanted to provide her with an activity that encouraged her to reach, grab, and pull (something other than my hair!). I modified her star box and came up with this pulling box for baby. See below for information on how to build your own!

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Supplies: A cardboard box, Christmas lights, a knife, packing tape, and a variety of different textured items found around the house that baby can pull on. (I used a pair of old tights, soft rope, and some of baby’s play links.)


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After you have followed the assembly directions for the star box here, you can start hanging your found items from the top of the box. I used a knife to cut “x’s” in the top of the box, then tied knots at the end of the rope and tights before slipping the items through the slits.

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This activity box is great entertainment for your baby. I watched my babe grab on to the links and rope, and shake the box as she played. She also used two hands to pull herself off the ground (a baby pull up!).

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In addition to having fun, your baby will be presented with a great sensory experience. She will feel the different textures of the items hanging from the box. She will also be presented with visual stimulation from the lights at the top of the box.

This activity also works to improve baby’s hand-eye coordination. She will have to coordinate reaching out and grabbing on to a moving target. This can be quite challenging!

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When my baby was finished playing in the box, her “big sis” decided to give it a try, as well. 🙂

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Snow Play!

The first accumulating snow has fallen in Columbus and with that comes all of the snow related activities. Read on for 10 ways to say-n-play in the snow!

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Snow related vocabulary: snow, ice, slippery, white, cold, melt, freeze, wet

Activities:

Build a snowman: Do you want to build a snowman? Of course! Have fun building a snowman or a family of snow people with your child. Use snowman related vocabulary (descriptive words/body parts/clothing) and snowman related concepts (spatial/size/sequencing) while building in the snow.

Make a snow angel: Describe how to make a snow angel. Then, get down in the snow with your child and make snow angels together.

Snow Paint: There are many ways to paint the snow (just do a Pinterest search to find more ideas). I used a spray bottle filled with water and food coloring (pictured below). Painting the snow is an excellent way to incorporate descriptive concepts into your conversation. Include color, shape, and size words while painting the snow with your child.

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Snow Gems: I had leftover colored ice cubes from this activity and decided to take them outside for some snow play. What a fun contrast these colored ice cubes made in the snow. You and your child can make designs or hide them around the yard. Conversation can include descriptive concepts: colors, shapes, and spatial concepts (on/under).

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Frozen bubbles: Blow bubbles in the frigid temperature and watch what happens. Check out Housing a Forest for a frozen bubble how to. Talk about what you see!

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Hunt for animal tracks: Print off  this animal track identification guide from Studyworks! Online. There are a lot of animals so I would suggest printing the animals that are relevant to your backyard. See if you can find any track matches in the snow. Discuss how the tracks might be the same and how they might be different.

Snow Ice-Cream: I have never done this, but it looks very cool. Check out the link and let me know if you have made this before. I have heard it’s delicious!

Build a Fort: If we get enough snow this winter you can build a snow fort. Increase your child’s vocabulary and concept understanding by incorporating these words into your conversations: build/destroy, on/under, hide/find, up/down, hot/cold, in front/behind.

Bring the Snow Inside: If it’s too cold outside to take baby out, just bring the snow in to her. Talk to your baby about what you are doing while playing with the snow.

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Experiment with Snow: If you have an older child (3+ years old) and want to do something with the snow inside, consider doing a snow experiment. Divide equal parts snow into containers (3 or more) and place the containers around the house. Ask your child where they would like to place the containers in the house (consider guiding your child to putting one container in the freezer). Let some time pass (20 min) and then check out the containers. Discuss where the snow melted the fastest and which container the snow melted the slowest.

Stay warm and have fun!

How to Say-n-Play on a Road Trip…With a Baby!

I am a planner. I like to make lists of daily and weekly tasks. That is until it comes to packing and preparing for a road trip. For some reason, I always wait until the last minute. Most trips, I wake up in the morning and hurriedly throw some clothes in a bag before I’m out of the door. When it came time for baby’s first road trip out of state, I fell into my old habit and found myself franticly scurrying around the house on the morning of the trip stuffing onesies and diapers into a suitcase.

IMG_1661Aside from an old habit dying hard, I’ll blame my poor trip-planning on the fact that we left on December 26. I was so caught up in planning for baby’s “First Christmas” that I didn’t plan for the eight-hour car ride I had to spend entertaining baby girl the next day! I thought (ok, hoped) she would sleep the majority of the trip, and I would be able to nap alongside her. Boy, was I wrong! Before we had even reached the state line, I realized that Baby Girl would much rather take the shortest naps possible so she could spend majority of the trip staring at me waiting for me to entertain her.

Seeing as the babe was content with being wide awake, I decided to take advantage of this quality time. Using the items that I did manage to pack before we left, we spent the time working to increase her attention span and language skills through reading and play. Read on for some ideas on how you and yours can “Say-n-Play” on future road trips.

IMG_16561. Bring books to build your kiddo’s language skills. Don’t make my mistake of bringing only three books. Bring a lot of books! My Baby girl loves to look at illustrations while Mommy reads to her and didn’t mind hearing the same story over and over again. For your own sanity, however, I suggest bringing a wide variety of books. I love “Barnyard Dance!” by Sandra Boynton, but there is only so many times I can “Bow to the cow” or “Strut with the duck” in an eight-hour car ride before I want the book to promenade right out the window. In all seriousness, I had a wonderful time reading with her and could truly see her attention span grow as we continued to read together during the trip. If you want to read more on how reading builds language skills and suggestions for what types of books to bring for baby, check out this blog post.

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This is our new favorite high contrast book: Art for Babycreated by Yana Peel. (Shout out to Nana and Papa for the wonderful Christmas gift!) Read more about to importance of high contrast books for babies by clicking on the blog post link above.

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2. Bring toys and books that crinkle and can be manipulated by baby with her hands and mouth. Baby will be strapped in the carseat all day while your on the road, so if your baby is like mine and decides to stay awake the majority of the trip, you will need toys for baby to explore to distract her from being strapped down. In the first months of life, babies are learning how to use their hands to manipulate objects. In addition to their hands, baby will also explore objects with their mouths. Their little mouths have more nerve endings per square millimeter than any other part of their body. So, baby will take a toy straight to the mouth in order to find out what something really feels like! Thus, toys like “Sofie the Giraffe” are great for road trips (and every day use) because it is easy for the baby to hold and soft enough for baby to chew on.

Learn from my mistakes and make sure you take more than a handful of toys! Babies have a short attention span with toys, so a new one will be “requested” quite frequently. To build your baby’s attention span, encourage her to play with the toy for 15-30 seconds longer than when she signals she is done with the toy. This little bit of additional time can be stretched as she gets older to increase attention and focus.

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3. If you run out of books and toys (or if you didn’t bring enough to begin with like me) be resourceful with your surroundings. For me, that meant a fast food paper bag and a water bottle from a gas station! The paper bag makes a great crinkle sound and can be squished together with baby’s hands. The water bottle makes another great crinkle toy. The bottle made an awesome sound that mesmerized my daughter when she squeezed it. It also doubled as an entertaining maraca when I shook the water around in the bottle. I turned to these items in desperation to keep baby girl calm and entertained…and, thankfully, they worked! It was amazing how she focused on me shaking a water bottle in different directions for almost 20 minutes!

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With these tips, I hope your next road trip with baby will look a lot more like this.

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…and a lot less like this. 🙂

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Safe travels!