Monday, August 25, 2008

Baby Days

I checked Baby Days by Barbara Rowley out of the library several weeks ago, and I'm so sad that I have to return now! There are so many interesting things to read in this book that I haven't been able to appreciate it all. I've seen reviews of several activitity books for toddlers that insist those books aren't helpful because the activities are things you can think of for yourself. While it's true that I'm a pretty creative person and can think of all kinds of things to do, I am also exhausted most of the time these days and that's not the best condition for thinking of fun things to entertain a toddler!

Things I like about this book:

  1. It's arranged by the course of the day, not the course of the year.

  2. It includes activities for babies (under 18 months) - not many, but at that age you don't need a lot of different stuff.

  3. Each activity has a rating on the messiness quotient.

Arrangement: Most of the activity books I've looked at are arranged according to the season of the year. That definitely has it's place - I do believe in following the seasons and paying attention to nature that way. However, I don't believe that it is practical or necessary for very young children to do crafts or activities based on Valentine's Day or Halloween. I'm not talking about dressing up in fun costumes, but about expecting small children to do heart shape related crafts when all they really care about it playing with crayons and glue. Not to mention the fact that at this age, sometimes it's all you can do to think what comes next during the day. So the fact that this book's chapters include Mornings, Naptime, Afternoons, Mealtimes, and Bedtimes really works for me right now.

Baby Activities: Part of my obsession with craft and activity books is that I have fond memories of doing things with my mom when I was little. Since my daughter is so young and unable to do elaborate crafts with me, sometimes I start wishing she'd grow up a little so we can do more fun stuff together. That's a slippery slope, I know, and I'm really enjoying the toddler phase. I know it doesn't last, and I hate the thought of wishing it away. So I'm glad that this book has suggestions for how to adapt activities to different age levels, include siblings, and do fun things with babies before they can do many "fun" things (of course, it's all fun).

Messiness Quotient: I believe that it's very important for babies and small children to have the opportunity to get messy. It's part of learning to be able to squish gooey stuff between your fingers and toes, and I love being able to provide that experience for my daughter. However, messiness is not always practical if you need to be somewhere, or you need to cook dinner and provide entertainment. So it's nice to see at a glance things you can do that are very messy or relatively clean.

Some things I want to try from:

Morning Chapter:

  1. Play Footsie: providing textures for a toddler to walk through such as flour, uncooked oatmeal and cooked gelatin. There's also a non-messy variation.

  2. Pretend to be animals: kind of like baby yoga

  3. Run an obstacle course: can be done inside or outside

  4. Arrange Stuff: putting natural treasures on a piece of florist's foam (or any other foam, I'm thinking)

Mealtimes Chapter:

  1. Make Peek-a-Boo Food: stuffed strawberries, cherry tomatoes and apples

  2. Shake It Up Baby: let baby dance around with container filled with moist fruit and something sticky (like sliced bananas and chocolate milk mix)

  3. Enjoy a Toddler Tea: finger food picnic on a blanket spread inside or outside

  4. Be A Big Dipper: I've heard this before - kids are supposedly really into dipping things. This gives a list of things that can be dipped and what to dip them into. Anything to get a kid to eat veggies, right?

  5. Decorate the Meal: letting the toddler garnish the plates like at a fancy restaurant. Anything that makes the food fun visually can help convince a child to eat (if not right away, perhaps overtime).

Nap Times Chapter (activities for parents):

  1. Keep an Informal Parenting Journal: I actually do this at night before I go to bed, which can be a problem. Even if I'm not too tired, often I've forgotten the cutest stuff.

  2. Make Old Toys New Again: This suggests to move toys around in the playroom. I actually switch them out completely, keeping the spares in dish tubs in her closet.

  3. Be Ready for After Nap Crankiness: I'm always caught off guard when she wakes up cranky. She went to bed cranky - shouldn't getting some sleep HELP with that??? Ideas from this book include storytime and having a project ready.

Afternoons Chapter:

  1. Silliness: This might be the number one solution for every problem. I just have to make myself remember it. I have a tendency to get frustrated when we're both hungry and she can't tell me what she wants. If I could just remember to pretend to fall down, would that make everything better?

  2. Move all activities outside - including bath and dinner

  3. Make a fort: We did this all the time as kids, and I've done it for Abigail a few times already. Everything seems fun inside a tent.

Bathtime and Bedtime Chapter:

  1. Paint Your Belly: For babies, you paint and for toddlers they paint. Or you paint. Even in the tub I'm not sure about letting her loose.

  2. Paint your Nails: Using baby safe paint, paint baby's nails before bath.

  3. Massage: for after bath - although this has never worked as well as promised for me.

  4. Help Baby Keep a Diary: This is a habit I'd like to start young. I think it's important to have a record of our days.

There are also chapters on outings, travel and special events. The book is subtitled Activities, Ideas and Games for Enjoying Daily Life with a Child Under Three. I think it's a great book for those"what are we doing next?" moments, and I intend to get my own copy soon. I think it would be helpful for any mom who sees herself in these moments more often than she'd like.

1 comment:

Jen said...

thanks- I'm going to check out this book! I just discovered your blog (thanks for the comment on mine :)) and I'm loving it...