We’re currently living in an unpredictable and uncertain time. It can be challenging to stay present with our kids while taking care of ourselves, and for some, working from home too. As we all learn what we need and what will work for us during this time, here are some ideas for those who have little ones at home.
Routines may look a little different now than they did before the pandemic, but having some consistency and routine in the day can help both parents and little ones adjust to the ‘new normal’ that we are all experiencing. Some ideas for consistency are:
- Get up and ready for the day before your child gets up (like in the airline safety videos, put on your own oxygen mask first, before your child’s)
- If you can, stick to a similar schedule, as your child would have had before the pandemic (ex: same nap times, meal times, etc.)
- Provide a variety of activities in the day to keep your little one busy (ex: getting outside, being creative, trying new things)
Infants and toddlers have short attention spans, so providing lots of different activities in a day can help to keep them entertained. Keep reading for suggestions of fun activities you can do with your little one!
Get outside as much as you can! This is so important for both you and your little one. Take a walk with your infant in the stroller or carrier. For a toddler, maybe playing a scavenger hunt outside during your walk to keep them entertained – searching for animals or different types of cars. Perhaps collecting some pinecones or leaves for a craft to do later in the week. On days that are cold or rainy, perhaps doing a yoga video with your little one.
- Here’s a 20-minute yoga video for pre-crawlers
- Here’s a 15-minute yoga video for toddlers
YouTube is a great place to start, with so many different videos to get you moving. Have fun!
Sleep is a popular topic for infants and toddlers, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Often parents have questions about how much sleep babies need, how to set up healthy sleep habits, infant sleep safety, and more. There is a lot of information about sleep out there, so here is some information to get you started:
- Keep sleep times the same, as much as possible, as they were before the pandemic
- Be mindful of the sleep environment – keep the room dark, playing soft music
- Having a consistent bedtime routine helps. Some ideas are:
- Take a bath
- Have a bedtime chat / make up your own bedtime story
- Read or sing a lullaby
- Play some relaxing music while rubbing your little one’s back
- Baby massage
It can be easy to let the routines slide when we are at home all day, but the more we can stick to similar routines as before the pandemic, the better we all sleep. The better we sleep, the better chance we give our immune system to fight off sickness. And we all tend to function better with a good night’s rest.
Fun and Games
This is the one topic that has come up the most since the social-isolation regulations set in… what can I do at home with my little one? It will take some creativity, and honestly, a lot of patience, but there are so many things you can do. We’ve included some ideas below. The list is not extensive, but can be adapted depending on the age of your little one.
Minimal Materials Required
- Play follow the leader or hide and seek
- Stack food cans/dishes/whatever else may be around the house. This is good for practicing numbers, colours, and sizes.
- Using pots and pans or plastic food containers as instruments (e.g. drums)
- Lay towels down on the floor and put a bucket filled with water in the middle. Let your child splash and play with the water. You can add food colouring or bubble bath to the water for a fun twist but remember food colouring stains carpets and clothing.
- Scavenger hunts, inside and outside. There are some great examples on Pinterest, or just by searching on Google for ‘scavenger hunts for toddlers’
- Loose parts play with items like toilet paper rolls, empty boxes, pinecones, and more
- Pretend a toilet paper roll is a telescope and play “I Spy’ out the window, or on your walk outside
- Make a pet rock. You might paint the design of ladybug on a rock, and play with your new ‘pet’ however you’d like.
- Build a fort out of empty diaper boxes, or the couch cushions and blankets
- Sing songs and nursery rhymes
- Head and Shoulders, Pat-A-Cake, Wheels on the Bus, and Row Your Boat—the list is endless.
- Here’s a link to a list of popular nursery rhymes www.nurseryrhymes.org/nursery-rhymes.html
- Have bath time in the middle of the day. Play with bath toys or bring utensils from the kitchen like ladles, spoons, spatulas and colanders for something new to play with in the water.
- If you have a cupboard at your child’s level, clear it out and let it be a space that they can crawl in and out of, play in and explore.
Arts and Crafts
- Painting with your little one. The Library has some great suggestions calgarylibrary.ca/library-news/three-sensory-activities-for-preschoolers-who-love-to-paint/
- Jello shapes can be a fun sensory craft. Make Jello in a shallow baking pan, and then either play with it or make shapes out of it
- Make a rice sensory bin by pouring some rice into a good-sized container and let your little one play in it with their hands or toys.
- Make sock or finger puppets.
- Get an empty plastic bottle and fill it with water, oil, food colouring, glitter, glue, etc. Put the top on tight, shake it up and watch what happens!
- Bring the snow inside and play with it in a bowl. Add food colouring to it to see what happens!
- The Calgary Public Library has some great online books that you can access but also has
- Suggestions for things to do with a busy toddler calgarylibrary.ca/library-news/three-indoor-sensory-play-ideas-for-active-toddlers/
- Online storytime with staff reading books that you can listen to www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL40rQpwLkfOEagve-aZ8CfCD8EowetwV0
- There are also lots of celebrities reading their favourite kids’ books online, like Clark the Shark read by Chris Pine www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgZRMptA0Lk)
- View online animal video cams from popular zoos around the world. Here’s one example www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/need-a-break-from-covid-19-anxiety-bring-the-zoo-to-you-1.4866598
- Here’s a link to a list of physical activities to do with older toddlers activeforlife.com/49-fun-physical-activities-to-do-with-kids-aged-2-to-4/?utm_source=Newsletter+English&utm_campaign=550865d8de-AfL_February_2020_En_Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f5bcbf5d48-550865d8de-353104957
- ½ cup cornstarch, ¼ cup water
- Homemade playdough
- 1 cup flour
- a little more than ¼ cup salt
- 1/4 cup warm water
- ½ tbsp vegetable or canola oil
- a couple of drops of food colouring
- mix all the wet ingredients first and then add flour and salt and stir together. Once it starts to come together, take it out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth.
- ¼ cup dish soap
- ¾ cup of water
- 1 teaspoon (tsp) of sugar
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