Inside: Are you running out of things to do at home with your baby? Here’s the complete list of 40+ fun and entertaining things to do when stuck at home with baby that are complete boredom busters!
“What do I do with my baby all day?”
It was my husband’s first day back to work since we had our son. Nervously, I sat on the edge of the couch as I gazed over the coffee table and watched my precious less than one-week-old sleep in his swing.
The pressure was on.
No one was going to be here to help me throughout the day. No one would be here to bounce ideas off of or to help me learn how to be a good mom.
It all fell on me.
I Was Terrified
Trying not to let the panic take over, my hands started to shake and I could feel sweat beads forming on the back of my neck.
- How do I entertain a baby all day?
- Do newborns even need to be entertained?
- Maybe I’ll get lucky and he’ll just sleep
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my sweet son. But the thought of being his sole provider all day with no help? I was terrified.
Then, He Cried.
“Calm down Amy. You’ve got this. This isn’t your first time caring for a baby. He’s my son, this should be easy, right?”
Taking two deep breathes I rigidly walked over to gather him from the swing.
This is it. Today’s the first day solo mom day. I’ve got this.
How to Entertain a Baby All Day
I’m happy to report that I’ve come a long way since that first day at home alone with my son. But, despite everything I’ve learned from the many, many, many days I’ve spent entertaining my son, there are still moments when I wonder what on earth to do with this growing little man who’s wiggly as ever and constantly needs to be moving.
The answer? A plethora of ideas at my (and your) fingertips.
Creating this gigantic list of activities to do at home with a baby has helped me be prepared for the days and moments when my mind goes blank and I have no idea how to entertain my baby.
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What Activities Can You Do With Babies?
The absolute best kind of activities for babies under 1 are activities that stimulate them – without causing overstimulation – and help them develop and learn.
But, even though developmental activities are the best ones to feed and grow your baby’s brain, sometimes those activities can be plain boring (like singing Baa Baa Black sheep for the hundredth time today or mindlessly playing peek-a-boo for an hour straight), we went ahead and sprinkled in some activities to entertain babies with mom in mind.
(So you don’t lose your mind.)
Let’s get to it!
Activities To Do With Babies Under One
1. Practice Tummy Time
Tummy time is important for a few different reasons. It helps prevent flat spots on the back of baby’s head, it helps strengthen their neck and shoulder muscles, and, it simply offers a new view of the world to your baby.
“But my baby hates tummy time!”
Here are a few things you can do to help your baby learn to love tummy time:
- Baby on your chest. Lay on your back either on the couch or on the ground with a boppy under your neck. Then, lay your baby on your chest. This encourages them to lift their head and neck to look at you – all while (mostly) distracting them from the fact that they’re doing something they don’t necessarily like.
- Lap baby. Sit on a chair or a couch, then place your baby on their belly across your legs. You can lift your leg that is supporting your baby’s head slightly higher than the other to encourage and help them lift their head up.
- Tummy Time Mat. This mat is made particularly to encourage tummy time and entertain the baby while they’re laying on their stomach. With floating toys and bright pictures, your baby will be intrigued to lift her head up to play with the mat.
- Tummy Time Pillow. Place this pillow under your baby’s chest and arms to give them something to play with and make tummy time more fun.
Got some time while baby sleeps? Grab the handbook and give it a read – it’s filled with over 200 different activities to do with your baby as a new mom.
3. Touch Toys
Babies love to explore their new world through touch. Gather a bunch of your child’s toys that have different materials and shapes and allow him to explore through the sense of touch.
4. Mimic Communication
Your baby can’t carry out a conversation with you just yet, but that doesn’t mean they’re unable to communicate with you. Babies communicate through sounds, gestures, and expressions. When your baby coos, coo back. When your baby waves her hands in excitement, wave yours back.
5. Read to Them
You may think your baby’s not interested in being read to, but they are. It may seem like they’re getting nothing out of the book, but they’re learning. Reading to your baby teaches them communication, helps them understand words – even when they can’t speak them yet, builds memory, vocabulary, and listening skills, and helps your baby learn more about their surroundings.
Here are our top picks for the best books for babies under 1 year old:
6. Jenga Block Amusement
My son has two favorite ways to play with Jenga blocks:
- Knocking down towers I build, and
- Pushing blocks through a hole in the lid of an empty and clean yogurt container
All you need for these activities is a set of colorful Jenga blocks and an empty – and clean – yogurt or sour cream container.
Cut a hole slightly larger than a Jenga block into the lid, attach the lid to the container, and let baby play with it.
7. Boxed Fun
Take empty cereal or shoe boxes and wrap them loosely in old newspapers or wrapping paper, then let your child rip the paper off and have fun playing with the boxes. Babies will love the sound of the ripping paper as well as crinkling it in their fingers.
8. Encourage Independent Play
At this stage in life, your baby is going to be relying on you for most everything. But, it’s never too early to start teaching independent play that will benefit them (and mom) as they grow older. Here are some fun ways to encourage your baby to play independently:
- Give her enough undivided attention. If you give your baby your undivided attention many times throughout the day, there’s a better chance that they will be more content playing on their own for short spurts of time.
- Start slow. Don’t expect your baby to entertain herself for half an hour straight. Start with small 2 – 5 minute segments, then work your way to larger segments as she gets older.
- Change the scenery. Change baby’s scenery every once in a while so there are new things to look at and touch.
- Open-Ended Toys. Give your baby open-ended toys like a couple large baby blocks or a plain old metal pot with a wooden spoon to bang on while they amuse themselves.
- Show Her How. Maybe your baby doesn’t quite understand how to play with her toys on her own quite yet. She is used to having you play with her, after all. Take a few minutes to show her how she can roll the ball on her own or whack the metal pot with her wooden spoon.
- Be attentive. Don’t put your baby down to amuse himself and leave the room for 5 minutes. That may do more harm than good. Start off by staying in eye-sight so he knows you’re close by. Or, if being able to see you stresses him out too much, stay in the same room but out of sight.
- Let him whine. A little. If you rush back to your baby’s side at the first sign of distress, he will learn that if he wants you, all he has to do is cry a little. If you’re comfortable with it, let him whine or cry for a short period of time, giving him a chance to learn that playing by himself isn’t all that bad – and maybe even teaching himself how to self-soothe while he’s at it.
Once your baby learns how to play independently for a few minutes, that will free up some much-needed alone time for mom, even if it’s just 2 minutes here and there. Every second counts.
9. Sing New Songs
Sit baby on your lap and spend some time singing fun new songs using silly voices.
10. Learn What She Likes (And Dislikes)
Spend some time learning what makes your baby smile, laugh, and coo. While you’re at it, you’re bound to learn a few things that upset her pretty fast, too.
11. Get Outside
If the weather permits, take baby outside for a walk around the block or to sit in the grass in the backyard.
Everything from the wind blowing to the scent of flowers blooming will enhance your baby’s senses and encourage them to be in-tune with their surroundings.
12. Indoor Activity Board
Either grab an indoor activity center for babies, or you can DIY your own. When making an activity board for babies, some of the best things to put on it are door stops, large, colorful letters, wind chimes, gears, and anything else that will get your baby’s senses soaring. These boards are great toys for when you want to encourage your child to play independently.
13. Different Textures
Babies love testing out different textures. Even before your baby starts to crawl or scoot you can place them on various different textures that will interest them.
For example, let them play on the wooden floor for a while, then move them onto the carpet and see how intrigued they get with the texture, then try laying a colorful beach towel on the ground and letting them explore that.
14. Document What Works
Entertaining a baby all day is a learning process. And, each baby will be different. What amuses and entertains one baby may not interest another baby in the least. Keep a little journal of what your baby likes, dislikes, what they play well with on their own, and the environments they prefer to be in.
Bathtime was one of the easiest ways to pass the time with my son, especially when he was starting to get grumpy. Letting him kick around in his baby bathtub for half an hour was a good way to keep his mood up.
16. Water Play
Water doesn’t just have to be for bathtime, either. Grab a small plastic bin and fill it with warm, bubbly water. Then, place some of your baby’s favorite bath toys (these squirting sea creatures are a hit) and/or some kitchen ladles. Sit your baby beside the bin and let them splash and play to their heart’s content.
17. Try New Flavors
If your baby is old enough to be eating solid foods, try putting different fruits and vegetables into these mesh feeders and let your baby experience new tastes.
18. Point and Tell
While carrying your baby, walk around your house or neighborhood and point out different objects while saying what they are. This will help your child’s language development, even if he’s nowhere close to speaking yet.
19. Online Classes
While screentime isn’t suggested for children under 2 years old, if you’re in desperate need of some socialization but can’t get out to a physical class, find an online mommy-and-me class to do with your baby.
20. Video Chat
Got a friend with a baby? Take advantage of technology and video chat with her and her baby.
21. Learn Sign Language
Teaching your baby sign language allows your child to communicate with you before they can communicate through speech. It also enhances future speech development and language skills (source).
22. Mirror, Mirror
Grab a baby-safe floor mirror (you don’t want a mirror that will crack if it gets hit) and prop your baby up in front of it, letting him look at his – and your – reflection.
23. Sensory Crawl
I’m loving this idea from The Stay at Home Mom Survival Guide.
Place different textured items in a row on the floor, like cardboard, small pillows, bubble wrap, a T-shirt, cupboard liners, and any other textured items that are baby safe and easy to crawl over.
Then, tape the objects down and allow your baby to crawl over and touch them.
Take a soft ball and, sitting your baby up (placing a pillow or blanket behind them if they’re not quite balanced yet), sit a few feet away from them and roll the ball over to them.
Let them touch it, chew it, and throw it. You could even try gently tossing the ball towards your baby to play “catch”. This will increase their hand-eye coordination (even if it doesn’t look like it yet!).
Undress your baby down to a diaper and, laying her down on a soft towel, gently massage her arms, legs, and belly. This should relax your baby and help grow your mother-baby bond.
26. Tissue Paper Fun
Tape a piece of tissue paper onto a chair or sofa so that it hangs down the edge and to the ground. Lay your baby on her back and allow her bare feet to kick at the paper. She’ll love the crinkling sound and kicking her feet.
27. Tupperware Drawer
One of my son’s favorite things to do that can amuse him for up to an hour is emptying out my Tupperware drawer and playing with the empty containers.
It’s a mess to clean up later, bit that 30 minutes+ of uninterrupted time I get to make dinner or clean up other messes is worth it.
28. Decisions, Decisions
Help your baby with her decision-making skills by placing two small toys in her hand.
Then, offer her a third toy. Let her decide if she will give up one (or both) of her other toys for the third toy, will try to fit all three toys in her hands at once, or will ignore the third toy altogether.
29. Wear Your Baby
Going stir-crazy stuck at home with baby because you can never get anything done? Put your baby in a convertible carrier and wear them while getting some much-needed house chores done.
One of my favorite things to do at home with baby is to turn on my favorite tune (even if the only tune I can think of at the time is Baa Baa Black Sheep), place baby on my hip, and dance it out.
31. Sensory Box
Grab a box, bin, or basket. Then, fill it with baby-safe household objects like:
- Wooden spoon
- Baby spoon
- Empty toilet paper roll
- Bath toys
- Silicone muffin cups (my son’s top pick)
- Empty plastic peanut butter containers
- Clean yogurt container lids
And anything else that’s safe to go in your baby’s mouth. Then, plop baby down next to the bin and let them explore all the new fun toys.
32. Helium-Filled Balloons
Place baby on his back and tie one or two helium-filled balloons to his feet. Watch him as he kicks at them. (This is an activity that should only be done under adult supervision.)
33. Popcorn Kernels
Place some popcorn kernels in an empty plastic container, then tape or glue the lid shut. Let your baby shake it to her heart’s content – but watch carefully that the top doesn’t pop off.
34. Piano Mat
Grab a piano mat and place your baby on her back, letting her reach for toys and kick her legs as she makes music. This mat is also great for tummy time.
35. Work Out
Incorporate your baby into your workout routine by holding him while doing squats, or laying on your back and placing him on your bent legs so his head is on your knees. Then, lift your legs and head off the ground (being sure to hold baby in place) while making funny faces at him.
36. Make A Fort
Grab some light blankets and lay down next to your baby, then, put the blankets above your heads and let baby touch and feel it while trying to figure a way out.
37. Finger Puppets
Grab a set of these finger puppets and help develop your child’s speech and language by talking in silly voices and making up stories.
38. Sensory Bottle
Fill a water bottle with water and place some colorful puffballs and sparkles in the water. Then, glue the cap on and let baby roll it around looking at the colors and shapes.
Blow bubbles and let baby pop them or just watch them as they float by.
Here’s a homemade bubble solution:
- 3 parts water to 1 part dish soap
- A dash of sugar
- A bubble wand
(Use baby shampoo in place of dish soap to make the bubbles tear-free.)
40. Jello Smush
It’s messy, but it’s fun.
Make some Jello and – if baby is eating solid foods – place a few Cheerios in the Jello before it hardens. Then, cut the Jello into cubes and let your baby smush in it feeling the textures, experiencing new tastes, and fishing for Cheerios.
41. Edible Paint
42. Peek a Boo
Your baby will reach an age when peek-a-boo will keep them occupied for hours and guarantee those big, gummy smiles you love.
43. Paper Scrunch
Crumple a few pieces of plain paper and let your baby amuse themselves as they explore the crinkles, throw it, and maybe even taste it. (Be sure to not let them munch or suck on the paper as it could fall apart in their mouth.)
What Activities Can You Do With Babies?
The great thing about entertaining babies at home is that they are usually very easily entertained – you just need to find what they like.
Download Your Free Checklist: The Ultimate Baby Sleep Guide
Learn how to optimize your baby’s sleep by helping them fall asleep faster and sleep longer during naptimes and at night.
- Download the guide. As a bonus for joining my newsletter, you’ll get the free baby sleep guide and checklist. You can Click here to download and subscribe.
- Print it off. Print the guide off and hang it on the wall near baby’s crib or place it somewhere it won’t get damaged to reference to at naptime and bedtimes. Any paper will work, though cardstock works best.
- Use it. Refer to the baby sleep guide and checklists at naptimes and bedtimes to help your baby get the best sleep possible.
Here’s a sneak peek at the baby sleep guide you can get for free:
Things to do With Babies at Home… Your Turn
I’d love to know what your favorite thing on this giant list of things to do at home with your baby when you’re wondering, “how do I entertain my baby at home?” is. Which are you most excited to try out?
Did we forget something? If your favorite thing to do with your baby at home didn’t make the list, share it with us in a comment below!