Readers frequently write me wondering how they can still connect with their older child once they have a new baby. Today we welcome Rachael to talk about the solutions she's found for including the baby in big sister's activities. ~Alissa
I have two girls.
My oldest is 2 ½. Right around the time she turned two, we started to find our playtime sweet spot. Nature walks, science experiments, pretend play, puzzles, painting, baking, building—it was glorious and messy and fun.
Luckily, including the baby (now eight months) has been easier than I imagined! Here are a few of our favorite activities:
Activities for Babies and Big Kids Together
Make Some Noise
You don’t have to wait until the baby is old enough to bang on pots and pans to include him or her in your musical play. At our house, my oldest daughter loves to serenade her baby sister. The baby raptly listens to our renditions of “Twinkle, Twinkle” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Now that she’s a little older, the baby also joins us in our exploration of musical instruments. Both girls love to “strum” daddy’s guitar and pound the piano keys.
Does your future doctor need a patient? Let the toddler listen to the baby’s heart or pretend to take his temperature. Has the toddler planned a tea party? The baby will happily be her guest! Need students to fill the classroom? Or a supervisor to sit at the construction site? Or guests for the doggy wedding? Let your tot assign the baby one of these oh-so-important roles.
While it’s true that a lot of toddler toys are inappropriate for babies, activities can often be modified to include multiple ages. Sensory play is one such example. Yogurt is safe for (most) older babies to eat and is a great sensory material for babies and toddlers alike. Likewise, both your baby and toddler will enjoy smushing hair gel or shaving cream in a sensory bag.
Should you choose a sensory material that’s not safe for a baby, perhaps the baby can participate by playing with the tools. For instance, when our toddler played with grass seed, our baby joined the fun by chewing, dropping, and shaking the spoons and ice cube trays we included in our sensory bin.
Enjoy the Show
Toddlers love to entertain, and babies make great audience members! Our baby shares my love for physical comedy. If her big sister spins so much she falls over, collapses on the bed, or slips while running on the slippery hardwood floors, the baby will erupt in a fit of (adorable, contagious) baby giggles. Help your toddler find that special thing that makes the baby laugh—peek-a-boo, tickling, raspberries on the belly, funny noises. Laughter is a great way for siblings to bond.
By helping your toddler to include his or her younger sibling in your playtime, you’re allowing your little ones to bond and see the fun potential of having a sibling. With any luck, this relationship will continue to grow and they will become lifelong playmates and friends!
Be sure to visit Rachel's Blog, Nothing if Not Intentional, for lots more baby and toddler play ideas!