Ensuring a variety of stimulating and engaging activities for babies is essential for their growth and development. However many parents wonder if they should utilize popular cartoons and video series. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, screentime is not recommended at all for children under 18 months old. So what is a new parent to do? Here are several suggestions for activities and products that you can use in place of screen time to entertain and educate your little ones:
Books and Reading
- Reading to your baby is an excellent way to engage their senses and nurture a love for language. Choose colorful, interactive books with textures, flaps, and simple stories that captivate their attention.
- Engage your baby in sensory experiences using safe, age-appropriate materials. Playdough, water play, sandboxes, and sensory bins filled with different textures and colors can provide hours of sensory exploration.
Music and Movement
- Play soothing music or nursery rhymes and encourage your baby to move, clap, or dance along. Musical toys, rattles, and shakers can also be great tools for introducing them to different sounds and rhythms.
- Spending time outdoors exposes babies to natural stimuli. Take your baby for a walk in the stroller, enjoy a picnic, or let them explore safe outdoor spaces, like a park or garden.
Tummy Time and Floor Play:
- Give your baby plenty of tummy time to help with their physical development. Lay them on a soft blanket with colorful toys to encourage reaching and grasping.
Baby Gyms and Playmats:
- Baby gyms and playmats provide a safe and stimulating environment for infants to kick, reach, and play with hanging toys, encouraging their motor skills and coordination.
Building Blocks and Stacking Toys:
- Building blocks and stacking toys help with hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills. Babies can enjoy stacking, knocking down, and exploring different shapes and sizes.
Puzzles and Shape Sorters:
- Age-appropriate puzzles and shape sorters can captivate a baby’s attention while promoting cognitive development, spatial awareness, and problem-solving skills.
Arts and Crafts:
- Encourage creativity by providing safe, non-toxic arts and crafts materials. Finger painting, using crayons, or playing with dough can be a fun and messy way for babies to express themselves.
- Choose interactive toys that respond to a baby’s actions with lights, sounds, or movement. These toys can engage their curiosity and provide sensory stimulation.
Puppet Shows and Storytelling:
- Create your own puppet shows or tell stories using hand puppets. Make different voices and facial expressions to capture your baby’s attention and imagination.
Baby Classes and Playgroups:
Remember, the key is to offer a variety of activities that encourage exploration, creativity, and interaction. Each baby is unique, so observe what captures your baby’s interest and tailor the activities accordingly. By providing a stimulating and engaging environment, you can replace screen time with enriching experiences that contribute to your baby’s healthy development.