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Entertainment for your baby

Published:Monday | February 15, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Emma Dalton-Brown, Gleaner Writer

THE FUNNY thing about babies is that just about everything they see entertains them in some way. As they get older, the joy then lies in being able to touch, or put things in their mouths. If toys are not available, a plastic water bottle will do. They may well be playing but, by default, they are always learning.

I wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about education and, in many ways, what you are reading now ties into that. Keeping babies occupied by playing peekaboo, reading, singing or simply talking to them, are all ways of teaching. Even letting them sit with a few building blocks, or the like, is good training. It is important for children to know how to occupy themselves. Don't leave the room, but stand back and observe. Allow your baby to start gaining a sense of independence.

I am a stay-at-home mother with no nanny, but meals have to be prepared, my columns must be written, and countless chores need to be completed. Most are achieved when our baby boy is awake, so he becomes a part of these actions. Remember, all he really cares about, asides from being fed, is being amused. So, whatever I do, even if I am seemingly ignoring him, I must provide a source of interest.

Simple activities

It could be something as simple as singing to him. Any song will suffice, but it helps to have children's ones, with silly animal noises, in my repertoire. If you readers are at a loss for ideas, the Internet is stocked. Sometimes, I tell him what I am cooking so that he feels like he's participating. When I'm on my computer, I usually put him on his play mat, with some toys and he gets on with it. He won't stay like this forever, and I have to sit close, and sometimes hand him items or stop him from crawling towards potential danger, but I am quickly learning how to multitask. I don't have any other option, really. The little monkey tries to get into anything he sees, and then some, so I have to work around that.

There is no set timeline for any of these activities. A child's attention span is not too long, but if you are able to accept this, you can plan accordingly. Don't expect to be whipping up a three-course dinner in one long stretch, but getting a quick stir-fry together is doable. Laundry can be tiresome, because as you move on to the next shirt, your baby's paws will be pulling on the one you just folded. And when it comes to tidying up in general, your infant is bound to put a spanner in the works.

Get baby involved

The key to amusing my baby during such tasks is to make him feel like he is participating in them with me. If we are in the kitchen, I give him a plastic cup, but one I normally use. With the clothes, I let him gnaw on a clean sock. As for tidying up? Well, as I clear the decks in one area, he'll be messing up the next. The truth is, he wants to play with something that he knows is mine, so the phone is a real winner when it comes to distracting him from my business. I do, however, think it is important for him to watch my husband and I doing housework, putting away his toys, and so on, because eventually he will be required to do his share. It doesn't really matter whether he's pushing his plastic cars around, chewing on his wooden blocks, or sharing in our household duties, it's all entertainment for him!