There’s no doubt that this pandemic has turned all of our lives upside down. For those of us with young kids, it means interrupted routines and the increased need for at-home stimulation and entertainment.
My daughter Yuri is a cheerful and energetic 8-month-old. Her personality is blossoming and she’s becoming increasingly mobile. When in daycare, Yuri has a rotating cast of toys to play with and dedicated teachers that shower her with attention. Now that she’s home with Mom and Dad, the options are looking a little stale! To stave off boredom (for parents and baby), here are a few ways I’ve been trying to reenergize some of Yuri’s toys and activities.
What’s Old Is New Again
Yuri is lucky to have some beloved toys at home, but there are only so many ways to play with that banana teether! At least that’s what I thought until I began incorporating Yuri’s plastic and rubber toys at bath time. Plastic cups and rings in the bath equal loads of fun. Yuri loves pouring water from the cups and is distracted long enough to let Dad wash her hair.
When Yuri was a tiny baby, she loved reading before bed. She would look at the pages and listen to the story, content as can be. Then she started teething and now everything must be tasted. Books are no exception. But books can be toys! At first, I was hesitant to let her pull, tug, and bite her precious books (librarian here!), but then I got over myself. These are board books! They’re meant for babies to manipulate and are a huge part of Yuri’s developing literacy and motor skills. They actually make a pretty good sub for building blocks, too. Yuri loves for me to stack them up so she can gleefully knock them down. Plus, the hard pages can be wiped down just like her other toys.
Pre-coronavirus, walks on the weekends were a big part of Yuri’s routine. While we try to get out for some sun when we can, social distancing can make that difficult. When it’s not possible to get some fresh air, we switch things up at home and take an indoor walk. Yuri’s dad will strap her into her carrier and take her around the house to water the plants. It’s a fun way to talk about what she sees and view her house from a different perspective. Exploring a part of the house that Yuri doesn’t usually play in is also fun. Most recently, we cleared out some space in our home office where there’s a window and full-length mirror and let Yuri explore the new sights.
Sing, Sing, Sing
Have you sung the ABCs about ten-thousand times? Me too. Except with Yuri it's "The Wheels on the Bus". By the ten-thousandth-and-first time, I realized I can sing whatever lyrics I want. Yuri doesn’t have barnyard puppets, she has jungle puppets. Thus, "Old MacDonald Had a Zoo" was born (I'm not as creative as I thought; it's already an ebook)! If we’re happy and we know it, yes we can clap our hands, but how about we also eat our peas? You get the idea. I also have the endearing character trait passed down from my mother that requires me to sing about everything I’m doing. Lucky for me, Yuri can’t get enough of my singing. She’s definitely my biggest fan!
The Internet for Babies
Perhaps you’re all sung out, but baby demands more tunes: the Free Library has an app for that! I knew TumbleBooks had a great collection of animated picture books, but recently discovered it also includes songs. All the hits are there: "Apples and Bananas", "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider", and yes, "The Wheels on the Bus". Each song includes an animated video for added cuteness.
Overdrive, the Free Library’s main ebook provider, has a special platform just for kids and babies too—the Overdrive Kid's eReading Room! We recently supplemented our current selections from Yuri’s bookshelf with Peekaboo Bedtime by Rachel Isadora, Every Color Soup by Jorey Hurley, and What’s Up Duck: A Book of Opposites by Tad Hills. You'll be able to find both TumbleBooks and the Overdrive Kid's eReading Room among our list of Digital Media resources. Don't forget to have your library card number and pin handy to log in.
We’ve also had a blast watching the virtual content the Parkway Central Children’s Department has been putting out (shameless plug: you can watch "Storytime with Yuri" on the CCD Facebook page). It’s been so much fun to see the familiar faces of the children’s librarians and listen to some new stories and songs. Check out the link to the Free Library's Virtual Programming schedule to see what types of children’s activities our fabulous librarians are providing.
Let me know how you’ve been shaking things up at home for your little ones in the comments below!