My crawling baby is bored. Help!
May 14, 2014 4:14 PM   Subscribe

We live in a small house with a patio but no yard. There is a decent space in the living room for him to crawl around but he's getting bored with his toys and has decided he'd rather try to injure himself with every other thing he can find. We are in for a long summer. Any ideas for activities (in the house or out of the house), games, or toys that will keep him stimulated given our limitations?
posted by malhouse to Human Relations (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
water bucket and toys on the patio
posted by beccaj at 4:19 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

I'm pretty sure babies will try to injure themselves with everything they can find regardless of other options.

When I was a baby my mom would throw a couple oranges in a saucepan and hand me a spoon to stir the oranges around. Apparently that was a hit. I also remember her keeping a big floor-level cupboard in our kitchen full of tupperware and other child-safe kitchen items and turning my brothers loose in front of it. It made a mess but there was nothing they could actually get hurt with.
posted by Sara C. at 4:19 PM on May 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

Water water water. Mini blow up pool on patio, bathtub in the house, a plastic cup for pouring (and smashing into the surface), and your attentive eye.
posted by third rail at 4:46 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

When I was little my parents had this thing called The Rice Game. It involved one of those large but relatively shallow Rubbermaid containers (like the ones people use to store sweaters under their bed), filled to the brim with uncooked rice and toys. It was probably intended for outside, but they used to let me play it in the living room, too...and the crackly noise the vaccuum made sucking up the rice I'd spilled was part of the fun. Definitely not a fancy toy, and one that requires supervision, but something I remember fondly from my childhood.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:58 PM on May 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

Is there room for something like this on the patio?
posted by mogget at 5:09 PM on May 14, 2014

Bubble toys.

Pillow and blanket forts or a large empty box (you can fold it down at the end of the day and hide it under the sofa or in a closet).

Yarn. We'd have at least two different colors on hand for whenever kids were around and they'd spend at least an hour wrapping it around doorknobs, the furniture, other people's feet, etc.

Uncooked macaroni and other pastas with some Dixie cups. They'd either sort the different shape and colors or make glue-to-paper artwork or "jewelry" using the aforementioned yarn.

Paper airplanes.

Beans in a bucket basketball.

Yoga ball, always a hit. The bigger the better.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:46 PM on May 14, 2014

Depending on how old your crawler is-- our kid loved playing with stacking cups (like these, pretty simple, can find them anywhere) so much that we eventually took them away so he would learn to play with other toys. He'd sit in one spot for an hour and stack them in his hands, against his leg, etc. YMMV obviously as different kids enjoy different toys.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:32 PM on May 14, 2014

We have the same problem with our kid (18 months old now) -- he has always gotten bored really easily. Some of the suggestions above helped a bit for us, but usually they would only buy another 10 or 15 minutes, still leaving the rest of the day stretching like a yawning abyss.

The one thing that really made a difference was just going out more. Something about being around people and seeing new things and new locations turned him from a little crankypants to the chillest, most easygoing kid. He has never had a meltdown in public, but has had many (or is just often whiny and unhappy) when at home.

What this means, in practice, is that we go out often. Starting since he was around six months old, and continuing now, he is at home and awake only about four hours a day. We spend the rest of the time visiting other places. Places we have gone include:

- Parks. parks parks parks. We know every park in a radius of 5 to 10 miles. Parks do not get old. Consider not just parks with playgrounds, but also parks with ponds (feeding ducks or seeing birds is almost better than playground equipment) or other wildlife. Even big green flat spaces, if you take some balls or bubbles or something, are weirdly better than the same balls or bubbles at home. Parks work even if the kid isn't walking yet; you just have to help them around a lot more.

- The pool. Particularly if summer is coming, this is great. Pools are fun for everyone, and it's great for the kid to get comfortable in water early. Plus as a bonus he'll be tired and sleep well!

- Free programs at the library. Ours has a little baby singing time we go to. It also has a toy library that he has fun browsing around (plus, at the end: toys!). And of course wandering around looking at books, or paging through them, is non-boring.

- Our community has lots of random playgroups, generally meeting 1-2 hours a week, where everyone with kids aged 0-5 meets at a local kindergarten or preschool and plays with the toys there. These things are so fun for the kids (even little babies) and they are wonderful for parents because you get to meet other parents. I had to google pretty extensively to find the ones in our town, but if there are any in yours they are worth it.

- Wandering around shops. Pretty much any shop is interesting to a baby or small kid. The key is to go at their pace - the meltdowns happen when you're trying to work on your timeframe. I've found that when I allocate about three times as much as I need for my own purchases, and we wander slowly through the aisles talking about what he sees, taking bottles on and off shelves, smelling different soaps, etc., he is thrilled and interested and we both end up in a great mood. And as long as it's not busy, you are polite, and you make your kid not make a mess (or clean up anything he does do inadvertently) people really don't mind.

- We also have him in a little baby music class, not so much for the "enrichment" but because it's something to do that he loves, and it eats up an hour a week of time. If your budget allows, something like this is great. I really enjoy going to it, and he really loves it. They also have baby gymnastics things, which our kid isn't in (for budget and scheduling reasons) but it would serve the same purpose. All of those will take kids as young as six months.

- If you live near the beach, beaches are also good for hours of entertainment. Or sandpits in general, if you don't.

- If your kid is still this way when they're a bit older, find a construction site. You can spend several delighted hours per day watching the diggers move soil around. He might be interested at this age but my kid only really started grokking how awesome big trucks are at about 13-14 months.

- Malls are great too. Unlike parks there is a limit to how often you can go (for your sanity if nothing else) but it's great people-watching, and the variety of things you can see is nice. Plus it's good for when the weather is horrible.

- Anywhere there are large groups of people. Outdoor festivals are great. Even if they're not set up for small children or babies, the people-watching is sufficient to entertain for a while.

- Restaurants. We eat out a lot, because eating out is more stimulating for the kid than eating at home. (And I suck at cooking). YMMV here, but our kid is really great whenever we go out - he's so used to it by this point that as long as we bring a couple of puzzles and a book, we're golden. Again, something about all the people and the different location is way more stimulating than having the same food at home.

This may sound exhausting but I really like our routine. My son does wonderfully in public because he has so much practice, and I find all of these activities way more interesting than anything I could cook up at home. I also feel like I've really gotten to know my community so much better since he's been born. So there are a lot of pluses to going out a lot.
posted by forza at 8:19 PM on May 14, 2014 [12 favorites]

I can't tell how old he is from your question, but my nine-month-old loves to play with containers, especially if I fill them with water. We've got a big box full of empty, clean milk bottles, cream cheese tubs, random plastic lids, etc. And some cheap sunglasses from the dollar store, since he is obsessed with taking people's glasses off.

Sometimes I even let him empty the paper recycling bag all over the floor if I'm particularly desperate.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 11:51 PM on May 14, 2014

Seconding the stacking cups - both our kids got a lot out of them as babies, and we keep them around for when people come round and have small children that need something to occupy them. They never fail to enthrall the small people.
posted by crocomancer at 4:22 AM on May 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Rotate the toys so he doesn't have the same stuff every day. Kitchen gear is terrific for babies - measuring cups, wooden spoons, a big metal bowl. Oranges are a great idea. I came in to recommend water - sitting in the tub with a big bowl of water and some cups. Take the baby out on walks, do errands, go to the library - the baby gets to see, hear, smell new places. Music. While you're at the library, get different music, from classical to kids' music. Pick up the baby and dance, sing, etc.

How does your baby express boredom? Consider putting the baby in his play space with toys, and let him experience boredom and figure out how to deal with it. Babies are pretty resourceful, but if they don't need to amuse themselves they don't learn how. Obviously, an adult has to be in range, but not necessarily available for entertainment 100%. I really enjoyed cooking and talking to my son while he played in the kitchen.
posted by theora55 at 8:13 AM on May 15, 2014

In my experience, the thing is that toddlers want to explore everything. I reordered my shelves etc., so my kids could take out everything they could reach without danger. Kids' books and disposable books at the bottom of the book shelves, all the tupperware and similar items in the lower drawers of the kitchen, socks and cloths in the bottom drawers of the bedroom, and so on.
They would take everything out, and I would put it back, or in the dishwasher, at night.
Also, if you have the time, I agree with going out at all waking hours. To parks, lakes with ducks and obviously playgrounds. If I could, I'd arrange playdates, even if they ended up with two screaming toddlers. Good for your personal health, too.
posted by mumimor at 12:48 PM on May 15, 2014

Not sure if anyone has linked to this previous thread (Soooo bored) but there's lots of ideas there too.
posted by pennypiper at 1:20 PM on May 15, 2014

When my youngling was transitioning from mewling on the floor to groping around on all fours, I used to quarantine a corner in the room with firm couch pillows, quilts and other such soft things so she could pull herself up the sides of the pillows and tumble down again, much to her pleasure and my entertainment. She would do this for literally minutes, which was more time than I could get her to focus on anything else at the time.

She couldn't stand on her own, but she loved having a different surface to work against, and it was nice to stick her somewhere she couldn't kill herself, tried though she did.

Another thing I did (which only ended in tears once) was use pillows/blankets/etc to build a border around my king-sized bed, essentially creating a corral for her to wander around on. Same idea as before, but a different space, which went a long way for her and not being bored. Be warned, this carries this risk of child feeling adventurous and deciding to try and traverse the Blanket Barrier.
posted by Tevin at 3:05 PM on May 15, 2014

« Older Looking for great characters from Movies or TV...   |   Upcoming trip airline travel question Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.