Hey Nest parents! You are superstars and I cannot believe how hard y’all are working at home these days!! I’m sure it is a blessing to be able to spend all this time with your wonderful baby but I know that it cannot always be easy having them around all the time when you are trying to get things done (like your job, or even just preparing a meal or cleaning up!). So here is a list of 25 developmentally appropriate activities to keep your little genius explorer busy when you need a moment to yourself. They are all geared at practicing and advancing fine motor skills and should all require minimal supervision. Rock on parents, I am so impressed with what y’all are doing!
Let’s start out with some kitchen-oriented activities. The kitchen is such a dynamic and exciting room for your baby that offers so many options for them to explore.
- Does your baby love to rummage through drawers of tupperware or other types of utensils? Back in the Nest, removing diapers from their drawers and placing toys inside was a much sought after endeavor and kept our friends entertained seemingly endlessly. Turn this passion for messing up a drawer into a fun and engaging way to practice picking up Cheerios (or whatever snack your baby loves that they are able to pick up with thumb and index finger) and also searching for small things amongst larger objects. You can do this by simply dumping some of the snack into a kitchen drawer and allow your baby to rummage through on a fun and tasty hunt! If your kitchen does not have a drawer that is the appropriate height for this, a box filled with tupperware or something similar can be used.
- Is your baby thrilled by sensory experiences and also want to chew or suck on EVERYTHING they touch? Sensory play can be edible! One fun option is to fill a bin with frozen fruit and provide utensils for scooping, such as measuring cups and spoons.
- If you have pipe cleaners at home, a few of these and a colander are a perfect pair for exploring pushing the pipe cleaners through the holes.
If we were back at Abeona House right now, we would be excitedly anticipating the magical world of water play that is an Abeona tradition during the warmer months. Here are some fun ways for your baby to engage with water and ice exploration at home! (Just be sure to lay down a towel or two)
- Fill a bin with water (and bubblebath if you like!) and provide your baby with strainers/colanders and utensils for scooping.
- Fill a bin with ice cubes and bury toys at the bottom to be discovered through digging.
- Put some ice cubes in a muffin tin. Picking up the slippery cubes and transferring them from one compartment to another will really encourage your baby to focus on their fine motor abilities.
- Add some excitement to any ice cube sensory activity by dropping some food coloring in before you freeze the cubes!
Your baby is a blossoming artist waiting for the opportunity to express themselves! Here are some baby friendly mediums for them to explore:
- Add food coloring to baby rice cereal. Add enough water so that it is the consistency of paint and encourage your baby to finger paint on their high chair tray.
- You can also make edible baby paint simply out of pureed fruit.
- If you have age appropriate paint brushes at home, allow your baby to paint with water on construction paper.
Have you ever noticed that no matter how many toys you provide your baby with, sometimes they are most compelled to just play with trash? This was a very prevalent phenomenon in the Birds Nest indeed! Here are some ideas for turning recyclables into toys and fine motor activities:
- Use the empty containers of cleaning wipes and/or baby wipes. Fill with balls or small toys. Allow your baby to experiment with opening the top, pushing toys in through the opening, and taking the top off and pouring the toys or balls out onto the floor.
- Fill an empty tissue box with small toys and allow your baby to remove them one by one.
- Cut small holes in the top of an empty yogurt container and poke straws through.
- Cut a slot in the top of an empty box or container such as the ones used for Quaker Oats. Provide your baby with a deck of cards or popsicle sticks and allow them to explore putting the cards/ sticks in the slot.
- Similar idea but with a larger box and your baby’s books to pretend “library book return.”
- Clip clothespins or chip clips to the ends of empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Allow your baby to practice with the mechanics required to squeeze and unclip the clips.
- Cut a door and windows out of a cardboard box large enough for your baby to crawl inside of. Put stuffed animals in there to make it a cozy hangout or put books inside to create your baby’s “study”!
Do you feel like your baby is ready to level up in peek-a-boo? Here are a couple of advanced versions of the same old game:
- Hide toys under a sheet and allow your baby to find them.
- Turn your baby’s favorite board books into a peek-a-boo scenario by putting post-it notes throughout the book, perhaps covering up some of their favorite illustrations. As they search through the book on their own, they can use the post it notes as peek-a-boo flaps or practice some fine motor by peeling them off the pages.
Here are a few more miscellaneous sensory/fine motor activities using household items:
- Fill a kiddie pool with cornmeal and provide utensils for scooping.
- Cut pieces a few inches long of duct tape, scotch tape, painters tape, and/or masking tape and stick onto an upside down storage container or similar plastic surface. Stick them on like tabs so that half of the rectangle of tape is un-stuck and allow your baby to peel them off.
- Using scotch tape, masking tape, or painters tape, use long pieces to tape toys to the fridge and allow your baby to unpeel the tape and free their toys.
- Use either cooked or uncooked tubular-shaped pasta and provide straws to allow your baby to practice pushing the straws through the pieces of pasta.
- Put some of your baby’s favorite toys in a box or bin and bury them in torn strips of tissue paper. Your baby will have so much fun experiencing the crinkly texture of the tissue paper and discovering the thrilling surprises hidden at the bottom!
- Create sensory bags from socks filled with rice, beans, or flour. Lay them out on a sheet and allow your baby to walk or crawl over them, squish them and squeeze them.
Keep up the awesome hard work, you wonderful parents! I miss you and your incredible babies so very much and would like to send so much love y’all’s way. I hope that some of these suggestions bring some fun exploration into your home and help to lighten your load a little.
With much love,