If you're like me, Pinterest is an inspiring, overwhelming, amazing goldmine of activities for little ones. But many of the most popular crafts and activities are targeted at toddlers and preschoolers. As a pediatric Occupational Therapist, I've spent years modifying and adapting activities to match the skills and interests of little ones. So today I'm sharing a few tips for making those Pinterest ideas fun for your baby.
Many photos in this post are based on this Photo Christmas Tree activity from Toddler Approved , which I shared recently on the CanDo Kiddo Facebook page - with a few tweaks, it turned out to be cute, easy and fun for my 6 month old!
1. Keep Materials Simple
You don't need to spend a ton of time and energy (scarce resources for parents) on details that will be lost on or eaten by your baby. I kept our posterboard Christmas Tree to a simple triangle and skipped the yellow star on top and brown trunk. If you're artistic and having a very accurate craft is fun for you - by all means go ahead! But if you're looking for a quick setup of a creative activity, think big-picture and skip the details.
2. Make Parts Large & Mouthable for Baby
Luckily this Velcro tree had large circles that were laminated in the activity instructions. But for other crafts like this bottle top monster from I Can Teach My Child, simply make the loose parts larger - using lids too big to swallow. Or for contact paper activities like this dinosaur sticky wall from In The Playroom, cover the loose pieces with laminating sheets or clear contact paper to make them more mouthable. And for all those fun sensory bin activities you see? Just put the materials in an empty water bottle as Teacher Types describes. They won't be touch (tactile) activities at the same level, but they make great reaching, grabbing, looking and listening toys!
3. Change the Position of the Activity
Move crafts and activities away from the table and onto the floor or a low wall. See how I took a fingerpainting activity to the floor for Tummy Time to make it fun for a baby under 6 months AND to add in all the benefits of belly-down play. A Boppy pillow will help free your little one's hands for play if he's not yet reaching in the Tummy Time position.
Taping or hanging activities from a low wall or cabinet is also a great way to engage little ones at their level once they are independently sitting or sitting with a little help.
Looking for more ways to play with your baby? Discover 85 simple but creative ways to play in the first year of life in my books.
4. Modify Your Expectations
Before you even start a craft or activity with a baby, think about what you little one is doing these days and modify your expectations to meet those skills and interests. My guy is all about taking things OFF - his socks, toys on a shelf, the tray at the table. So I knew this Velcro Christmas Tree activity would be all about un-decorating.
As you can see in the second photo below, my little guy also pulled his whole Christmas Tree down for a closer look....er....taste. The activity was short lived - about 4-5 minutes each of the three times we tried it. But those 4-5 minutes were packed with new experiences - he worked hard to reach and grasp the circles and had to pull repeatedly to get them off. He looked at the photos, turned them over in his hands, crumpled them and - of course - mouthed them. It was a great new experience to add to our day and it made for a cute bit of holiday decor!
Don't be afraid to try new things with your baby - follow these tips, closely supervise (eyes on baby within arm's reach) and watch your little one explore with wonder. As always, happy playing!
Shared on the Mondays Parenting Pin It Party Board on Pinterest.