It’s all too easy to become a shut-in when you have a young baby at home. Even before I had a kid I was never particularly punctual or good at getting out of the house in a normal amount of time. But becoming a new mom took my tardiness to a whole new level. Just gathering all the the supplies I needed for a day out with baby and getting it all organized and packed could take hours. Of course every time I thought we were ready to go it would be time for a nap or a diaper change or a spit up explosion requiring an outfit change. Also, we get snowy winters, so it was always easy to have an excuse to stay in. This is the last thing I needed — more excuses.
What eventually worked for me in my new life as a mom was coming up with a calendar of weekly and sometimes daily activities to give our days some structure and force us to get out and about. (I tried to pick activities that I’d enjoy, too.) This not only gave some shape to our time together but it made each day go by quicker.
Don’t get me wrong, it still takes me forever to get us out the door. But I’m working on it, and if I have one of these fun adventures planned, it lights the fire under me. Best of all, my baby and I both have a good time.
1) Take in a movie
Many movie theatres monetize the slow daytime screenings by welcoming moms with small babies. The best ones will show movies at a reduced volume, provide diapers and changing areas, and, of course, are understanding if your baby gets fussy. This is a great activity to do with mom friends – or go it alone and see something your partner wouldn’t be interested in. The dark movie theatre is also a relaxing place to nurse or bottle feed baby and let them nap.
2) Time for the library
Public libraries usually have weekly mommy and baby classes where a librarian leads the group in songs, rhymes and a story. But even if you don’t attend an organized class, the library can be a great place for a day trip. Just stick to the children’s section so that you and your baby don’t face unfriendly shushes.
3) Get cultured (aka see art!)
Pop baby into a carrier and take a stroll around your local art gallery or museum, some of which have activities set up for babies to explore paint and color. FYI babies have good color vision by five months of age, so bring ‘em on over and let them enjoy large, bright paintings.
4) Lunch for two
Once your baby becomes a busy toddler, eating a meal in peace becomes trickier. But while they’re still little you might be surprised that taking them (um… yourself) out for lunch can be really fun. The really little ones will sleep – but you’d be surprised how long older babies can entertain themselves by nomming on those dissolvable puffs (not just a food but an activity in itself) and mauling a teething biscuit.
5) Take a trip to the pet store
Find a pet store or shelter where your baby can watch the animals interact. Use the word “gentle” and chat with your baby, mimicking the animals’ sounds as you look at each one. Some pet shops are located inside malls and shopping centers, so if your baby falls asleep you’ll be free to go window shopping or meet a friend for a coffee.
6) Hit the swimming pool
Public swimming pools can be a noisy and over-stimulating environment for young babies, but if you choose a quiet time in the middle of the day when older kids are at school, you’ll likely find a more calm experience. Take a blanket to sit on and swim diapers and baby’s robe or hooded towel and set up camp. Small babies prefer warmer water, so choose heated pools with a temperature of at least 82°-86°F. Be sure to keep baby’s skin covered; little ones are ready for sunscreen at 6 months.
7) Have a teddy bear’s picnic
Take a selection of toys, a picnic blanket and some snacks to a grassy area or park and let your baby have the freedom to roll/crawl around, and take in some fresh air, bright colors, and all kinds of texture.
8) Go for a bike ride
For small babies under a year old it’s best to use a trailer attached to the back of your bike. It’ll feel just like a regular stroller to your baby, except for the ever-changing scenery which will keep them rapt as you ride around. For optimum safety, stick to bike lanes in parks and dedicated trails.
9) Host a craft session
Invite some moms and babies over for an activity, like making a rainbow shaker toy. Provide some colored ribbons and teething rings and make sure you have on hand scissors and strong coffee (for the moms). Cut the different color ribbons to the same length and tie them securely to the teething ring so that you have a circle with rainbow ribbons streaming off it. Then lay the babies on their backs in a circle and swish the colored ribbons over them and let them grab, explore and touch each color.
10) Visit your workplace/ former workplace
Are you on maternity leave? Or taking extended time away from work? If you have an old office gang, they’ll likely love to say hello your new bundle of joy – and it’s nice to be the center of attention for a few minutes. Most likely, your baby will be passed around to everyone while you get to hear the office gossip and have some adult conversation. That’s win-win.