Amidst the Covid-19 outbreak, and with the more recent announcement of school closures, you may have started to see suggestions for kids home activities begin to pop up. With that in mind, you may find yourself getting lots of great ideas for keeping pre-school or school age children busy, but feel left wondering what you’re going to do if you’re home with younger children.
Infants and toddlers: Children under 36 months (3 years) have different needs, abilities, skill and language levels than older children, and by nature need more supervision and hands on guidance. Unlike older children, little ones ages 6-36 months may not be able to sit for entire shows or movies, know how to utilize screen time for learning purposes, be able to make meals or snacks, sort or clean toys, play board games, read independently, or participate in some of the commonly suggested activities during this time of social distancing.
To help, here are a few ideas and resources for keeping your little one happy and busy while they are home with you!
All children, but young children in particular, need routines. While strict or rigid schedules are not necessary, flexible but consistent routines can really make a difference for your child’s wellbeing, especially when they are experiencing changes to their daily life. This time at home is a great opportunity to keep or build sleep schedules, maintain or introduce consistent (and ideally family) meal times, and work in activities (indoor and outdoor) to help them learn and grow. Predictability in daily schedules in terms of wake up times, naps, play, meals, reading, quiet times, bed times, etc., keep children rested, help them manage disruptions, regulate their emotions and behaviours more easily, and reduce incidents of problems at home.
*If you’re working with a Wildflowers clinician, ask them about developing routines or particular resources that may be helpful during your next Video Therapy Session or give us a call to book a first appointment.
One on One Attention:
All children need and thrive on one on one, individualized attention from their parents or caregivers. Spending time alone with each child helps them feel secure, loved, noticed, and appreciated. It builds self confidence, independence, and curiosity, and reduces the likelihood of emotional or behavioural incidents. During this time at home its easy to slip into the world of technology and get lost on social media. However, it is important to put away the electronics and spend time simply playing and interacting positively with your child. It’s not so much about what you do with them but more that you find time for one on one time, every day. Get on their level, comment on what they are doing, follow their lead, avoid questions, and let yourself have fun with your little one, while they are still little.
Tips & Tricks:
Use what you’ve got:
When you’re stuck at home and trying to come up with fun activities, you might be worried that you don’t have the materials you need to keep your little one entertained. Never fear! One of the many wonderful things about little people is their ability to have fun, be creative, and use their imaginations. So save those toilet and paper towel rolls and egg cartons, pull out some plastic Tupperware/cups/utensils, grab some old shoe boxes, and dig out some gift bags and have fun with what you have! All of these items can be used to practice counting, sorting, naming colours/shapes/sounds, be filled with things and used for instruments or anything else you and your little one(s) can come up with.
Variety is the spice of life:
Each day try to fill your child’s awake time with different activities. Weather permitting get outside for some fresh air and sunshine, do some sensory play (noodles, yogurt & food colouring, bubbles, water), listen to music, have a dance party, do educational activities, read, clean, have screen time (if appropriate), bake, colour/paint/draw, watch old movies, do crafts, etc.
Mix it up at meal times:
It’s not always easy to cook fun and healthy meals when home with busy kids but you can still find ways to mix it up, even if you’re regularly serving the same quick meals. Take pasta for example. Instead of serving it on a plate or bowl in pile, try lining it up horizontally or vertically, lay it in different shapes or faces or add colouring to the cooked noodles for extra fun!
It’s never too early (or too late) to make your home a safer environment for your baby or toddler. Safely store or lock up cleaning products, dangerous items, choking hazards, etc. Secure furniture. Put baby locks on toilets, cabinets, stoves, freezers, washers/dryers, and doors. Turn down the water temperature in your home to avoid scalding. There are a ton of online resources walking you through all the different ways you can make your home safer for babies and toddlers.
*If you’re worried that you need baby proofing items but don’t want to go out, call around to local shops. Many small businesses are having sales, offering free delivery, and have online shopping options so you don’t have to break the bank (or expose yourself to germs) to have a safe home.
Sure you may be cleaning your hands, toys, and surfaces more often, but don’t forget about baby bottles and items. Can’t find lysol? No problem. Use 50/50 water and vinegar solutions to clean surfaces and place bottle parts in a pot of boiling water on the stove for 5 minutes.
With a change up in routine, longer days and more sunlight, more activity (and noise) in the house, your baby or toddlers sleep routines may be disrupted. With that in mind, use this opportunity to create a more peaceful environment for their sleep. Get a good sound machine, put up blackout blinds or curtains (or tin foil) in windows, create a sleep/nap time routine (change, pjs, books, etc.), and follow the ABC’s for safe sleep for babies- Alone, on their Back, in a Crib (or bassinet).
Resources: Check out the follow Instagram accounts.
TeachMeStyle (most recent blog post has educational resources)
Take care & wash those hands!
Written by Megan Adams Lebell, Registered Psychologist with Wildflowers