Friday, 30 September 2011

{Keeping Toddler Entertained}

A few of my friends, well quite a number of them actually, are about to have baby #2. They've been saying that they'll come to me for advice seeing as I was the first to become a mummy of two, so I thought I would start some hopefully useful posts / discussions that will help them but also give me some new tips & suggestions.

My first post is on keeping the toddler entertained whilst feeding your newborn.

My son was 20 months when his baby sister arrived. He was at the stage where he was into everything, so safety was my first concern. When I was busy feeding the baby, I had to make sure that he was in a safe environment because he rarely listens or follows instructions at the moment! So I got a load of stair gates from Baby Security and I got some other safety accessories for kitchen drawers etc from Ikea. I either feed the baby in the living room or in our bedroom and my toddler is contained safely in both of those areas.

Next step was to keep him amused... a good friend suggested a special box or bag with toys that he's only allowed to play with during feeding times. A great idea, and I bought a couple of bits & pieces for him. However, I chose badly and the toys I picked needed my input. One was a book with buttons to press for different animal noises - but he was always desperate to sit on my knee to read with me which wasn't an option whilst feeding! For those of you at Gymboree classes, my son is obsessed with the 'magic bag' and whenever he finds an unopened box or bag he sings 'what's in the magic bag...'. I think if I'd chosen more wisely this would have been fantastic.

Another trick that I've used is to play a game. My son can recognise a few letters, shapes and he's very good with his colours. I bundle a pile of foam letters on the floor and ask him to pick out the letter 'm for mummy' or 'd for daddy' or 'g for grandpa' (he also knows a, b, c, d, e and k) or ask him to choose a blue coloured letter etc. This can keep him amused for some time and I can still interact with him whilst I feed the baby.

Rotating toys has also been a lifesaver. We have toys in the bedrooms (some laid out on the little play table and some in the wardrobe) and the living room (some tucked away in boxes and some in the playpen). I try and rotate these every so often and this prevents boredom. I was amazed that my son was occupied for a good hour or so the morning I rotated the toys and even just replacing batteries in toys that had stopped working gave him another hour or so of fun.

My son could play for ages with his cars. I tend to feed my daughter in my bedroom because my son loves to run his cars up and down the window sill.

Other tricks I use are CBeebies (his favourite show at the moment is Raa Raa the Noisy Lion) and snacks. My daughter's feeds do tend to coincide nicely with snack time for the little fella so he usually gets a bowl of breadsticks, raisins, fruit or crisps and a cup of water for him to enjoy whilst the baby is fed. I try to keep TV watching to a minimum but it has been very helpful for feeding situations.

I've only fed my daughter out in public once with my son in tow and it was a bit of a disaster. He's at the age where he's too difficult to keep occupied trapped in a highchair. The cake I bought for him only kept amused for 5 minutes and after he had inhaled it he was bored! Best option for me has been to visit friends with little ones a similar age, visit the in-laws or stay at home.

If any other mums have any other suggestions or advice, please do share!

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