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Whether you’re babysitting your niece or you want to get your new baby happily across the state to grandma’s house, you’re going to want to keep your child entertained!
There are lots of great ways to do this, depending on what you have available and what you’re trying to do.
In this article, you’ll find that wikiHow has covered all the bases, giving you great ideas whether you’re going in well prepared or you have absolutely nothing to work with.
Just get started with Step 1 below or check out the sections listed above to find the help that you need.
Engaging At Home
Play the stacking game.
A favorite game for many babies and toddlers, this game can be played anywhere with no extra baby toys needed.
To play this game, simply take any small objects you can, stack them together, and then knock the stack down.
Baby will have fun knocking the stack down on their own too!
This game is best done with toy blocks, but you can use any items you can find (so long as they won’t break when you knock the stack over).
You can use tin cans (preferably empty and sealed off on top), plastic cups, small boxes,soft sponges and food items, among other small objects that can be found in your house.
Toy blocks are cheap, easy to find (sets can be frequently found at garage sales for about a $1), and also easy to store so if you think you’ll be entertaining babies on occasion then you might want to consider keeping a set just as a backup option.
Let them play in the bath.
As long as you’re willing to watch them vigilantly, a sink or bath-full of water is an easy way to keep a baby entertained for about an hour.
You might not want to actually wash them, since too much soap can be irritating for their skin, but you can let them splash in the water with a couple of toys.
Again, this can be very dangerous. Babies can drown if you turn your back for even a second.
Even just a little water in their lungs can be dangerous.
If you want to take this route, you’ll need to be really serious about paying attention.
If you don’t have bath toys for babies, you can make a hand puppet out of a washcloth or a boat out of a Tupperware container.
Read a book.
Babies can usually understand much more language than they are able to communicate.
They’ll be especially easy to engage if you read the books in the right way for a baby.
Don’t just read the text like you would for a child who can understand the words: take a more lively approach.
Move your hand around the page, bouncing and sweeping, as you tell the child what’s happening in the picture.
Keep your voice energetic and show lots of exaggerated emotion. Baby will be fascinated!
“Goodnight Moon” comes highly recommended for babies (it is, for some reason, almost addictive for small children), as do “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”,
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, and “Pat the Bunny”.
Babies especially like stories that are familiar to them, so make sure to check with their parents to find out their favorite books.
Do an art project.
Babies don’t have a lot of fine motor control but that doesn’t mean that they’re not hiding a little inner Van Gogh.
Art is great at not only keeping them entertained but it’s also an excellent way to stimulate their brains, give them important sensory experiences, and help them build those motor skills that they’ll need to keep developing.
An easy project to do is to make a card for one of baby’s family members.
This can be a just-because card for mom, a birthday card for grandma, or a thank you card for brother or sister.
Take a sheet of printer paper and fold it in half to make the card.
Then, paint baby’s hand and make a hand print on the front of the card.
Another good option is your old friend the coloring crayon.
You’ll probably need to pay attention to make sure it doesn’t just go straight into baby’s mouth, but a crayon and paper should be more than enough to get baby’s interest.
You can also try a baby-safe finger painting option.
Put the baby in a high chair and mix some plain yogurt with a few drops of food coloring, and let the baby create on the high chair table.
Play shadow games.
Babies are just starting to get the concept of shadows, so find a way to get them interested in this new concept by playing a game with shadows.
The easiest way is to cut a butterfly shape out of a piece of paper and then shine a flashlight at it.
Get your baby to try to chase the butterfly!
If you have the time and materials, you can also make full shadow puppets, which can be useful for making baby-safe “TV” that keeps your baby entertained.
Bring out the bubbles.
Bubbles is to babies as video games are to teenage boys.
They will go nuts for bubbles.
This is an easy way to fill up an hour and keep your baby feeling happy and energetic.
It’s also useful for motivating your baby to move around and do things you ask, making it a great way to teach them how to say things like “more”.
Keeping Busy on the Go
Try to time car and stroller activity with nap time.
Your best bet, of course, is to try to time anything you have to do out and away from home with when your baby takes a nap.
By making sure that they’re sleeping while you’re out, this will reduce how much you have to worry about keeping them entertained.
For example, put them in a baby carrier right before naptime and then do your grocery shopping.
They’ll fall asleep on your chest and let you get your shopping done without a shouting match.
Another example is if you have to go on an airplane or a car trip.
Schedule the travel to coincide with baby’s nighttime sleep routine.
Get them ready for bed but instead of putting them in bed, put them in the car.
They sleep and let you drive in peace.
Keep attachable toys.
For strollers and car seats, the thing that will help you the most is getting and keeping on hand some toys which can attach to where your child will be sitting.
Babies love to throw their toys over the side or down onto the ground or floor, making them cry and creating more work for you.
By keeping toys which latch onto the seat, you make sure that baby can get their toy back whenever they want.
Keep food on hand.
For keeping your junior happy and entertained while you’re out and about, food can be crucial.
They might not be really hungry, but taking the time to pick through a bowl of Cheerios can buy you just enough time to get through the line at the post office without a boredom meltdown.
Try to choose snacks that baby can eat alone.
Small items that take a lot of time to eat are a great choice here.
Cheerios, raisins, apple chips, and seedless grapes (halved lengthwise or quartered for safety) are all good options here.
Avoid hard foods, unhealthy foods, and foods which are difficult to chew and swallow (like peanut butter).
This is especially important when you’re in the car, since it’s harder for you to notice when baby chokes.
Also avoid messy foods like peas, which easily roll away from baby.
Try the transfer game for plane rides.
Bring a series of nesting tupperware containers and a bag of dried peas or beans.
Put baby to the task of transferring beans from one tupperware and into another.
This will easily keep them entertained for hours.
If you didn’t bring these materials with you or if you can’t, you can use stuff that’s found on the airplane in a pinch.
Ask for some empty coffee cups and stack them.
The child knocks them down. Or play the “shell game”.
Use a mirror for car trips.
Many parents use a rear-facing car seat (which is the safest method for a one year old), but this can leave your baby feeling stressed because they can’t see you.
Get a mirror which attaches to their seat.
Not only will this reduce their stress by helping them see you, they can also entertain themselves by looking at their reflection.
Make some silly faces at the baby in the mirror.
This will be fun for them and they might even try to imitate you.
Using Minimal Tools
Make a toy out of your keys.
As long as you pay a little attention and are sure to remove items that might be very dangerous for them (like sharp beer bottle openers), keys are a great emergency toy for a baby.
You can jingle the keys in front of them and watch as they shake them around.
They’re also a great candidate for baby’s favorite game: dropping things and making you pick them back up.
Again, you’ll really need to pay attention here.
Make sure baby doesn’t get those keys too close to anyone’s eyes (including their own)!
Give them paper to rip.
Ripping scrap paper is a great game for a baby and a great way to prove that you don’t need a lot of fancy toys to keep a baby entertained.
Pull some old newspapers out of the recycling and show baby how to rip them. Then, let her give it a try!
Make a "bank".
Find a box, an old coffee can, or any container which you can cut a slot into with scissors or a box cutter (only cut into the plastic lid of a coffee can).
Now find items that can be fit into the slot and are safe for baby.
Plastic lids from Tupperware or canned items are good.
You can also fold up think paper squares or even use food items, like biscuits.
Baby will be thrilled with the “thunk” sound and the fun task of getting the object into the slot.
Sing children's songs, especially those that include movements.
You don’t need anything but your voice to entertain a baby if you’re willing to sing some songs.
Try singing some nursery rhymes, such as “Old Macdonald” and “Patty Cake.”
Babies may not understand the words but they’ll love watching you move your fingers and your hands to act out any song with a lot of energy.
Peek-a-Boo is such a basic that many people don’t realize just how much children love this game.
Your baby will scream with laughter as you hide behind your hands or other objects in the room and then pop out with a big smile.
Towels or other pieces of fabric are particularly useful for playing Peek-a-Boo.