9 Engaging Activities for Baby

Enhance baby’s growth with these fun, development-boosting activities.

9 Engaging Activities for Baby

Babies are born scientists. From the moment they come into being, they are observing and absorbing the world around them. Countless studies tout the incredible growth and development of a child's first 3 years. More specifically, experiences and interactions within the very first year of life have lasting impacts on a child's foundation for thought, feeling and overall well-being. Here's a list of engaging activities that stimulate development, nurture curiosity and foster happiness in children under one:

During Reading Time. Everyone knows the importance of reading. Beyond simply reading a book, there are so many easy activities to incorporate into reading time to maximize the experience and impact.

  1. Word and Letter Focus: read slowly and point to each word as you read it. Do this throughout the book to emphasize the relationship between the letters and words baby is seeing and the sounds he’s hearing.
  2. Exploring Pictures: sift through each page and point out objects and images in the pictures. Allow your child to point to images and objects and identify them. You can focus on one concept (i.e. pointing out all the red objects in the entire book) to explore and extend the activity.
  3. Playing with Tone: add an extra element to reading time by incorporating different tones, volumes and voices. This will activate your child’s cognitive skills and buoy listening and focus. Add in sound effects to buoy the pictures as well.

During Music Time. Music is the way to the heart. We now know that introducing music in utero offers a host of benefits. Little ones are primed to enjoy melodies and rhythms from the moment they enter the world. Here are few ways to explore music:

  1. Transform household products into musical instruments: turn recycled coffee canisters and plastic bottles into shakers and drums. Fill bottles with paper clips, rice, beans, anything that creates an interesting sound. Encourage your little ones to use their hands, spoons or rattles on coffee (or formula) cans to create beats.
  2. Sing-a-longs: babies don’t mind if you sing in the correct key, just that you sing. Nursery rhymes and classic children songs immediately engage little ones with their simplistic melodies and buoy language through rhyming and repetition. Teaching babies basic hand movements allows to participate in songs before they have the verbal ability to do so.
  3. Simply listen to music: offer varied playlists in the background and explore new genres (jazz, bluegrass, reggae). Move and groove with the music and incorporate a “freeze dance” by pausing the music to peak listening skills and practice muscle control.

During Guided Sensory Exploration. Babies are primed to explore their surroundings. Here are a few ways to create engaging opportunities for exploration:

  1. Have baby explore everyday objects: using a large container, basket or bag, create a random assortment of objects that offer your baby different tactile sensations. A fuzzy sock, a wooden block, a squishy ball, an old remote, any and everything can be used. The varied weight, size and feel of the object are incredibly stimulating for little ones.
  2. Have baby explores things from nature: using the same container, create a themed assortment of objects. You can incorporate objects of the same color, nature objects (pine cones, stones, seashells) or all soft objects to name a few.
  3. Don’t forget water: water is a huge point of interest to little ones. Place a large blanket or towel on the floor and fill a few tupperware containers with various amounts of water. Using basic items like spoons, droppers, or water bottles to pour water from one container to the other is instantly engaging. Simply touching the water and making small splashes is exciting for little ones, and eventually participating in transferring the water from container to container will be equally as satisfying.

Taking an extra moment to enjoy the value in seemingly small moments of exploration and play will inspire more ideas and opportunities for you to engage your baby in actual activities. Just like their parents, babies want to be engaged, stimulated and a part of the world around them. Every moment is an opportunity to grow, for you and your little one.

Photography by Amy Frances Photography.

In This Article

    Sunday Citizen

    I live in the Northeast and when I woke up this morning, my house was freezing. It had been in the mid 40's overnight and we haven't turned the heat on yet. Suddenly, my normal duvet felt too thin. The socks on my bare feet too non-existent. Winter is coming, and I'd been drinking rosés still pretending it was summer.

    I couldn't put it off any longer. It was time to do my annual tradition of winterizing my home—and I don't mean making sure my pipes and walls have enough insulation (though obviously that's important too). I mean the act of evaluating every room and wondering if it has enough hygge to it.

    If you've never heard of hygge, it's a Danish word that means a quality of coziness or contentment. And what better time to make sure you have moments of hygge all throughout your house than right now? As far as I'm concerned it's the only way to get through these dark winter months (even more so during a pandemic.)

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    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


    Mama, all I see is you

    A love letter from your baby.


    I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

    All I see is you.

    When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

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    I trust you.

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