Go Out and Play: Month by Month
A month-by-month guide to keeping your baby (and you!) entertained, all year round.
Fall foliage, anyone? Take your little lady for a nature hike and you won’t be the only one checking out the colors. Find a good, comfortable path in your area, pack some snacks, put your kiddo in a front carrier, off-road stroller (or go it on foot) and head out for a leaf-crunching walk.
Thanksgiving isn’t the most understandable of holidays to a baby (especially just after Halloween — where are the costumes, again?), so introduce the idea with pictures. Cut out Thanksgiving-ish photos from a magazine or ads in the newspaper (yams, turkey, pie), give the foods he picks out a swipe with a glue stick and stick the food to a paper plate. For younger babies, try classic handprint turkeys: paint his palm and make an imprint onto a piece of paper, then draw in eyes and a beak. Bonus: perfect for the scrapbook!
Babies and toddlers may not be ready for glass ornaments and little dreidels but they can still get festive. “Get a large piece of green felt and cut into the shape of a Christmas tree,” Klaassen says. “Then take different colors of felt and cut out ball and candy cane shapes. Felt sticks to other pieces of felt, so it’s a fabulous, fun way for babies to decorate their own tree.”
Yes, it’s cold. But don’t let the chill keep you and Baby indoors all day. Bundle Baby up (don’t forget mittens and a hat) and take her on a winter wonderland tour of your backyard. She might not totally understand what that cold white stuff is, but she’ll love watching you blow bubbles (they’ll freeze on the wand!) or dig in the snow with a shovel and bucket. You can even show her how to make ice castles using pans and cups as molds.
You don’t have to be of dating age to learn about love (thank goodness!). Make heart shapes from construction paper. Put loops of Scotch tape on the back and, with your baby, walk around your house, yard and neighborhood, sticking them on all the things that you both love. (Just keep the sticky sides from landing on sensitive things like, oh, the cat.)
Right now may be drizzly and blustery, but you can still get out with your babe. And you should – even babies get cabin fever. It’s a great time of year to try out a new class. Most classes that are geared towards babies and toddlers – like Gymboree and Music Together – offer a free trial class for first-timers. The classes incorporate lots of singing and movement, guaranteed to get your baby smiling.
Go on a wildflower-picking expedition. Pick flowers of different sizes and colors to take home and press into wax paper.
It’s officially too pretty to stay inside. Go to your local park with a big bag of stale bread crumbs for the ducks to munch on; head to the zoo and gawk at the new animal babies; go to the park with a picnic basket.
The scorching summer heat can only mean one thing: a serious water cool-down. And you don’t even have to go to the pool! Fill a few bowls with water and give Baby a paintbrush to “paint” on the sidewalk or patio outside. Another idea? “Add different colors of food dye to the bowls and let your toddler mix the different colors of water to create new colors,” says Holly Klaasen, mother of two and editor of The Fussy Baby Site.
Want to catch a concert with your little one? No, we’re not talking rock-n-roll (yet!) — Baby’s ears are still delicate little things. Many cities offer open, outdoor performances with no required seating and plenty of grassy space to walk around on. When Baby loses interest in the on-stage singing, you can walk around to get a snack or explore (while still in earshot of the music. Score!).
Outside, it may be sizzling, but you know where it’s guaranteed to stay a cool 72 degrees in the summertime? The art museum. And talk about eye candy: The colorful pictures and tall, twisty sculptures are bound to capture your baby’s interest. Many museums offer hands-on activities for little ones — everything from coloring in basic pictures of masterpieces to making collages. Even if they’re not totally ready to create their own art, they’ll still love crumpling up pieces of paper.
It’s an oldie but a goodie: Apple-picking is one of the most perfect fall activities for families. With easy-to-access fruit (on low-lying branches or even lower: right there on the ground), kids of all ages are bound to feel accomplished. Bonus: Afterward, you and your toddler can make enough apple slices, apple juice, applesauce and apple butter to last you for weeks. Maybe even months!