When the weather is cold, most families want to say indoors where it’s warm. That may restrict some physical activity for active babies and children. Indoor play gyms are fun, but can be expensive and full of wintertime germs. However, there are fun ways to mimic some summertime outdoor play activities in your own cozy home with these wintertime activities for babies.
Bring the beach right to your baby’s playroom by creating a sensory sandbox using sand you collect outdoors. Add some shells and other toy sea animals that would be found on the beach, such as crabs, snails, fish, starfish and sand dollars. You can even make these with your baby using clay or playdoh.
Provide small shovels, rakes, cups or buckets so your baby can play in the sand as if she were at the beach or in a sandbox. She may also like letting the sand run through her fingers and pushing it around in the box for a soft sensation on her fingertips. Clear plastic boxes of any size work best, but make sure it has a lid for safe storage. Spread a newspaper or craft paper under your sensory box to prevent a sandy mess.
Have a Ball…Pit
Many indoor gyms have ball pits where your tot can “swim” around in a sea of colorful plastic balls. Setting up a ball pit in your home is pretty simple and inexpensive. Use your inflatable outdoor kiddie pool as the pit and purchase BPA and phthalates free plastic balls from a toy store or online. Fill the pit and watch your baby enjoy hours of fun kicking, crawling, throwing and rolling around in the balls. Yes, your playroom may get a bit messy, but luckily clean-up is pretty easy and you can encourage your baby to help too.
Don’t belong to an indoor pool? Don’t worry! You can keep your baby in the water by using your bathtub. Whether your tot is still in a baby seat in the bathtub or sits on her own, you can make a fun activity out of a super-long bath. Practice swimming skills like kicking, reaching & pulling and floating. Add some fun games such as collecting bobbing rubber duckies, fishing or racing boats. Clean off your pool toys, such as watering cans, squirters and floating toys, and use them for your swim-simulating bath. Another fun bath game is splashing to the beat of your favorite children’s songs or nursery rhymes. If you really want to get in the summertime spirit, put your bathing baby in a swimsuit.
Remove the Weather Obstacle
It may be too cold for an outdoor playground, or maybe you just want to avoid bigger kids trampling your baby. Set up your own obstacle course in your home using household items such as pillow cushions, play mats, hula hoops, blankets, pool noodles and cones. You can make barriers for her to crawl over, tunnels for her to crawl through and various play pit stops along the way. By creating your own obstacle course you can tailor it to your baby’s physical capabilities and challenge her as well. She’ll have a blast while you are cheering her along.
Nature in a Box
If you enjoy nature walks with your baby or strolling her through the zoo, bring a little nature into your own home. This one is similar to the sand sensory box. Fill a plastic tub with bird seed, leaves, twigs and acorns. Then place animal figurines inside the box for her to find. You may want to pick a theme, such as zoo animals or woodland creatures. She’ll delight in discovering the animals and it gives you an opportunity to name them and talk about their features. “A tiger has sharp teeth.” “An elephant has a long trunk.” “A zebra has black and white stripes.”
Learning through play is the best way, even if you’re stuck indoors this winter!