If you end up having to self-isolate or find all your baby classes cancelled due to Coronavirus what can you do to keep both you and your little one busy and happy and solve the inevitable boredom?
It’s probably everyone’s idea of a nightmare, being shut in a house with an under 2-year-old for two weeks while you wait out the self-isolation time that is being suggested for the coronavirus threat to pass. We are so used to filling our day with baby classes, popping to a café to meet a friend, or having friends over. When all of this has to stop, knowing what to do to avoid both of you going out of your mind can be hard. That’s why here at Oliiki we have put together some ideas to make this time not only a fun bonding time but also full of playful learning using things that you already have in the house. We could only fit a few ideas into this blog post, but on the Oliiki First 1000 Days app, we have over 1000 activities just like these to help your fill your days with fun and happiness.
If your baby is newborn
and you are not going out due to the coronavirus, or your baby classes get cancelled due to the need to self-isolate here are some games you can play with your baby:
Find a bright toy, show this to your baby. Make sure you hold it about 20 -35 cm's from their face so that they can focus on it. Talk about what they are looking at. Ask them questions about it, make them open questions such as "what do you think this colourful dog is thinking about?" "What is his name?" or "do you like the dog?"
Babies see bright colours and black and white more clearly than pastel colours. The high contrast helps them see the depths in the toy. You are also helping to develop their language skills, by taking turns in conversations. Listening to you will also develop their hearing skills! We are learning a lot today!
Hold the toy 20-35cm's away from your baby's face. Move it slowly, allowing them to really examine it. Tell them what they are seeing and talk to them about the toy. Ask them open-ended questions about it. What colours can you see? What is his name? How many legs does he have? etc., Then answer the questions, making sure you have left enough time for the baby to have a chance to answer. They are not going to answer but taking turns in conversations is all part of learning how to talk!
Bath Sounds: When you are bathing your baby, put some water into a cup and trickle it into the bathwater, listen for the sounds of the water. Talk to your baby about the sounds that you can hear. Ask your baby if it sounds different if their head is in the water or out of the water. Obviously, your baby will not be able to answer you! But, by providing your baby with open questions (ones that can't be answered with a yes or no or one-word answers), you are beginning a journey of learning.
Providing new sounds encourages your baby to listen carefully and keeps your baby interested. Learning to ask open-ended questions helps you extend your babies learning and is excellent practice for you for the future.
Ensure that your baby is held securely and safely in the bath. Now gently pour water from a cup, beaker or any other vessel into the water. Make it pour, make it trickle, make it splash. Talk to your baby about the water, about the sounds that it makes. Ask your baby about the sounds that they can hear, wait for your baby to respond. Listen and wait and then answer for them, e.g. 'Can you hear the water trickling into the bathwater?'
'Yes you can hear it. Does it sound all splashy?' etc.
If your baby is under 1
staying inside in self-isolation doesn’t need to be hard here are a couple of fun ways to pass the time using things you already have around your house.
Noisy Beans: Put some dried beans, some rice, some pasta etc. into some small see-through plastic containers. You could put some shiny things in as well for extra interest. Ensure the lids are firmly on - you may want to seal them with some tape for extra security. Now put all the boxes into a basket and let your baby explore the sounds of these boxes as they rattle and shake them. Talk to them about the sounds they are hearing.
This is a good activity to help develop your child's hearing through an activity which relies on this sense. Your child will also develop their fine motor skills as they strengthen the muscles in their fingers, wrists and hands by trying to manipulate the boxes in the basket. Talking to your child about the sounds they are hearing will help their language development.
Allow your child to explore the sounds that the boxes make but help them if they are finding it hard to move any of the boxes. Talk about the different sounds with them. Make sure the lids do not come off and spill the contents as these are not suitable for a young baby to play with. Do not leave your baby unattended during this activity.
Lovely smells: let your child play in some shallow water. You could put some water in a shallow tray such as a baking tray. Make sure the area where your baby is sitting is well protected by waterproof material - such as a shower curtain - or you could let your child sit outside if the weather is warm enough, just make sure they are wrapped up warm with a waterproof apron on. Add a large sprig of lavender, rosemary, lemon balm or another herb with a pleasant scent to the water. (Do not use essential oils without taking expert advice as some of these are not recommended for young babies). Allow your baby to play with the water and enjoy the different aromas they will be able to smell. To get the most aromatic smell, soak the herbs in the water overnight.
Your baby has a highly developed sense of smell. A baby can even smell from within the womb. Babies use their noses to identify smells which comfort them - such as the smell of your breast milk, or the general smell of you! - but they are also much more aware of subtle smells than adults. They use their noses to find out more about the world around them as this sense is particularly well developed at this stage of their lives but will gradually become less effective as they grow into adulthood.
Be vigilant since your child is playing with water. Never leave them unattended. Also, do not let your child put any of the herbs in their mouths…. Talk to your child about what they are doing and the wonderful aromas they can smell.
If your baby is over 1
some fun activities to do while stuck in the house hiding from the Coronavirus are:
Balls on a tray: You will need a round tray, and some light plastic balls or a round table would work as well. Put the balls on a tray or table and push them around so that they travel in one direction. Then, push them the other way. Show your child how they will roll around on the circular surface. Gently move the surface of the tray around so that the balls move independently. Your child will be fascinated.
This activity will help your child to track a moving object and also help them with their fine motor skills as they try to gently push the balls around the tray or table. They will find that if they push them too hard, they will jump off the table and so they will need to learn to do this gently if they want the balls to roll around. Talking to your baby about what is happening will help them with their language development. If the balls are different colours, tell your child the name of the colours.
Just show your baby how to move the balls around the tray or table with your hand, and then also move the tray or table for them so that the balls move on their own. Talk to your child about what is happening.
Paper and Water: Find a shallow plastic or metal tray of some description or a shallow bowl and fill it with warm water. A plastic seed tray would be ideal. Put a bib on your child and sit them on a plastic mat or in a highchair with a plastic mat underneath. Alternatively, if the weather is good, you could do this activity outside, just make sure that they are wrapped up warm enough. Give your child some paper - any paper is fine, something that has already been used and is ready to be recycled would be ideal. Let them experiment with putting the paper in the water and seeing what happens to the paper. Does it change? Does it feel different? Talk to your child about the changes that they can see and feel in the paper as they immerse it in the water. As the paper begins to go soggy, let them squish it and mash it between their fingers. What does it feel like now? Let them have fun exploring the different textures of the water and the paper between their fingers. If you are feeling adventurous, you could even take off their socks and let them feel the paper mush with their toes!
This is a sensory experience, particularly using your child's sense of touch. Learning through our senses is very much part of our early development and being given a range of opportunities to do this will help your child begin to understand more about the world around them.
Just relax and let your child take the lead in this activity so that they are exploring the different textures in their own way. Talk to them about what they are doing - and use as much rich and varied vocabulary as you can to describe what they are feeling.
Glass blowing: Blow onto a window or mirror so that you create a fog. Show your child how to do this and encourage them to help you blow. Then, you can draw in the fog with your finger. Again, show your child how they can do this. Take some time to blow and draw with your child.
Children need to strengthen their face muscles as well as the muscles in the rest of their bodies. There are tiny muscles in the tongue, lips and the jaw and these are essential for speech sounds and words. Strengthening these muscles will help with future speech development. Using their finger to try to draw in the fog on the mirror or window will also help them in developing the fine motor skills which are a precursor to holding a pencil.
Show your child how to blow and how to use their finger as a pencil. Just encourage them in these skills and have some fun too…
That’s just some of the 1000+ activities we have in the Oliiki First 1000 days app. All of the activities are designed to be easy and fun to do and use only what you have lying around in the house. So, if you are stuck inside due to Coronavirus or chickenpox, why not download our app and start playing and learning. You might find that those two weeks go by in a flash!
Apple app store link: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/oliiki/id1451057588?ls=1
Google Play link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.oliiki.oliiki