A lot of people ask me how I’m able to cook like I do (and write a blog) with a baby to care for, which is why I’m sharing my list of the top 6 ways I keep baby entertained so I can get things done. Having a baby is wonderful, and amazing. Staying home with him is even more wonderful and amazing. I love every minute with my little guy, but the long days and nights are exhausting. I need to carve out some me-time or I’ll lose my mind. With daytime naps sometimes painfully short, it’s important to find things for baby to do on his own. These are my son’s favorite things to do, keeping him busy for 15 minutes or more. They work on a daily basis for my almost 11-month-old, and are in my “toolbox” when I need a short break. None of these things are a must-have for a baby, and some of them are a little pricey. They work for Grayson and I –and may work for your baby.
The key to getting some me-time when you have a very mobile baby (who gets into everything) is keeping them in one spot. This way you know they are safe. Getting them to stay in one place without screaming in protest is a difficult task. The trick is to keep them entertained. That way, they are happy and you are happy. What do I do with my free time? I like to spread these little moments throughout the day to do the things that need to get done. I use this time to do the dishes, make the beds and clean the floors. I also get the chance to do things just for me, like writing or catching up with friends on Facebook. It’s amazing how even the smallest thing, like doing your hair or painting your nails, can make such a difference when you’re a tired mommy.
#6. Interactive Toys
Grayson has 2 interactive toys, and he plays with them nearly every day. My mother bought him a second-hand VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker. He has yet to use it for walking, so we still have a lot of time with this one. His other favorite is the VTech Learning Laptop. He liked this one more when he was younger, but I’m sure it will have new life when he can understand the words.
These toys keep his attention from 10-30 minutes at a time while I stay in the room with him. I’m able to relax, and usually spend time reading on my smartphone. When he gets bored, I get on the floor and play with him. We toss the ball (he’s learning to pass it back), and sing or read stories.
Drawbacks: The songs. You will end up with them stuck in your head all day.
#5 Toys + bathtub
You could use any toy for this sanity saver, but you need a tub. Grayson really, really loves his bath time, but only gets to play with his bath toys when he’s taking a bath. I’ve discovered that he’s equally enthralled with the bath toys without the water. There’s something about the tub shape and floor that he just loves. I place him in the empty bath tub and he plays inside. He can’t climb out yet, so I’m free to do what I need to do. I use this trick when I’m trying to do something IN the bathroom, like fix my hair, do my makeup or clean. It’s even great if you just need to use the toilet without grabby hands tugging at your legs or pulling on the toilet paper!
Note: For safety, make sure you don’t leave baby alone. Buy a textured bath mat if your tub is slippery and a faucet protector so you won’t have any bumped heads.
Drawbacks: Sometimes water will leak out of the toys = wet bum
My husband bought me an iPad for Mother’s Day when my little one was only a few months old. I spent a lot of time in bed back then, dealing with a hungry baby who didn’t sleep much at night. Now, my baby is the one with the iPad. He started “playing” a few baby apps at about 5 months old, mostly batting at the screen. Now that he’s 10 months old, he is getting a little better coordination, but still needs frequent help. Lately, he tries to almost sit on the screen, forcing the app to close, so I stay close by. I also purchased a Kidbox Cover for iPad with thick foam to protect the device, plus a handle and stand. It’s really holding up to some abuse! I usually will put the iPad down on a carpeted floor at my feet so he can play while I’m on the computer. Grayson is learning fine motor skills, shapes, colors and the names of objects while I get the songs stuck in my head on a perpetual loop. It seems like a fair trade.
I have the same apps on my phone and they have saved me a few times when we were at the doctors, a restaurant or stuck in traffic. Do you have a favorite baby app? Please share!
My top picks for free baby apps:
- Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Monkey This app has four different selections, shapes, numbers, letters and music, each with songs and fun graphics.
- Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Shapes & Colors This app is one of Grayson’s favorites. The first level is great for very young babies. It has shapes that move across the screen and respond to baby’s touch. He likes the second level now.
- Egghead: Baby Touch and Hear by treebettydesign. Good for very young babies, this app only requires baby to touch the screen to open the egg, and an animal is revealed. It has beautiful graphics without annoying music. A bonus for mom!
- Fisher Price Storybook Rhymes Volume 1 A great app for older babies. They turn the pages for a singing or reading two stories. The Itsie Bitsie Spider or One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.
Drawbacks: Frequent shutting down of apps. Be ready to help out. Also, did I mention the annoying songs?
This is one of the few baby bouncers that will support a 2-month-old. Designed by an occupational therapist for proper support, the baby is suspended from a doorway and cradled in a comfy fabric harness. Grayson has been using this bouncer weekly and loves it now even more! He’s so good at using this bouncer; he now performs tricks in it- bouncing front to back, spinning, and clapping his feet together mid-air. He laughs the entire time, and we both have fun. I have this set up in my kitchen, and while he’s bouncing, I do the dishes, make lunch or mop the floors. It’s truly one of the best things I ever purchased for my baby and I.
Drawbacks: Getting baby in and out. Easy, but I’m always worried he will wiggle away from me.
I didn’t realize how much I would love this walker when I purchased it. It’s a little expensive, but worth every penny. What I love about it is the clean design with a wide removable tray. I feed him a meal at least once a day in the Joovy. Babies like to move, and sticking them in a high chair can be a battle. Now that Grayson is eating finger foods, I can put him in the Joovy, lay out a selection of healthy treats and let him be. He loves to happily move around the room and follow me through the house as I prepare meals or clean (always cleaning!). Even though Grayson is crawling (and standing) he never objects to going in this walker. The messes usually stay on the tray, and while food sometimes gets stuck in the seat, it is also removable and easy to clean.
Drawbacks: Cleanup. A mobile baby with food is always messy. He likes to drop food overboard to create sticky trail for me to clean up later.
When we first had our son, I said I would never just let the TV babysit my child. Then I found out how exhausting it was with a baby demanding your attention 100% of the time. Grayson doesn’t watch a lot of TV except for a bedtime snuggle with Disney Jr., every now and then. Mostly, I use my tablet or laptop and select short videos for him to watch in the same room as me. There is just one video that Grayson will watch every time. Harold and the Purple Crayon from HBO family buys me about 22 minutes of worry-free me-time. He also likes any of the Baby Einstein videos like Baby McDonald. The best part is this works in any room if you have a tablet or smartphone. I usually set my iPad just out of reach and do my thing. Lately, I place it on a low futon and Grayson stands on the floor next to it, teething toy in hand.
I hope some of these products help you get some sanity as they do me. Do you have a favorite product? I’d love to hear about it. Please share in the comments below.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links to products I purchased and used myself. I recommend these products. If you decide to buy any of these items, I may receive a small commission that goes toward Love and Duck Fat hosting fees.