With a limited attention span and fast growing skills, it can be very difficult to stay on top of baby activities that will keep your baby engaged all.day.long. And with the first year being crucial to kids’ development, the pressure is on to find activities that will keep your baby happy, playing, and growing the way they should. Making up a baby schedule can seem overwhelming- there are so many things you’re doing just as you navigate keeping this person alive – but by sticking to basics and establishing routine daily activities for babies, you can really help to create a baby daily schedule that will leave both you and your child feeling fulfilled.
Creating a daily routine for your baby helps to make sure that they are progressing in the key areas of language, cognition, gross motor, and fine motor skills.
They seem like heavy concepts (and they are), but when you break them down, there are super fun and simple ways to help babies learn the basic skills they need to be successful in toddlerhood and beyond.
We think you’ll find that by fitting each of these activities into your baby’s daily schedule, you’ll be nurturing their growth, and having lots of fun at the same time.
So without further ado, here are the ten things that you should fit into your baby’s schedule every day.
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1. Get Outside
It will come to our readers as no surprise that this is by far our favorite thing to do with our little ones. There are so many simple ways to get outside, and so many fun things to do once you’re out there. You don’t have to get fancy with babies though! Grab an outdoor baby blanket, surround baby with some simple toys and just enjoy the outdoors.
Try to squeeze a walk into your schedule each day, and make an effort to make that walk take as long as possible. If your baby is in a stroller, point out things they can see – remember, that might mean it’s above you! Look up at the trees, the clouds, birds and planes that fly by. The great outdoors is as great for language development so narrate everything you see and you’ll be doing some major language formation!
If you’re having a tough day personally, feel free to take a mug full of coffee with you (we like this one that NEVER EVER SPILLS), put some earbuds in, and listen to music or a podcast of your own while your baby just enjoys the fresh air. You and your baby will both feel like you’ve gotten a reset, and you’ll have checked off some development growth for your little one as well.
Related Post: Why You Need to Play Outside with Your Kids
It’s never too early to start reading with your kids. Your baby may be more into eating books than reading them at this age, so we love these Indestructible books. Your baby can chew on them, try to rip them (they won’t be able to) and you can even toss them in the washing machine if they get spit up on – or worse!
Don’t be discouraged if your little one isn’t into books yet. Even hearing you read while they do their tummy time will teach them to listen to the cadence of a book. You can even read a book that YOU are interested in, just to get them used to hearing you read. When they do want to sit in your lap and read, pick books with beautiful illustrations and bright colors.
Experts recommend that you spend as much time as possible reading to your young child, and to integrate at least one structured reading time each day. (Source) Choose a time, maybe right before nap or during an afternoon snack, and make reading a structured priority. Cuddle up with a book, and lay the building blocks for your child’s future as a lover of books.
Related Post: Our Favorite Books to Read to Our Kids
One of the cutest of all the baby milestones is the first time baby busts a move. Whether it’s a little head bopping or a full booty shake, babies love to groove. Making music a part of your day helps to create a rich sensory environment for you child, and aids in the development of complex neural pathways. (Source) Music is a form of language, and teaching your kids to sing, dance, and keep time gives them an advantage in many areas in the future.
And don’t worry! You don’t have to listen exclusively to Baby Shark! There will be plenty of time for that once baby can make requests. For now, introduce your baby to music you enjoy and let them discover what they love. Our first son was soothed by Sinatra and danced to NSYNC!
Related Post: When Dance Parties Go Bad
4. Art for Babies
You don’t have to go full Pinterest to get this mission accomplished – remember, they’re babies! But just because they’re babies doesn’t mean there aren’t easy ways to expose them to art at a young age.
Process based art (aka the lazy-mom kind, where you give your kiddo free reign over the materials) is actually far more beneficial for kids than those construction paper ladybugs you see floating around the internet. It’s also a great option for babies who, let’s face it, aren’t going to follow rules and aren’t going to be too interested in the finished product anyway.
If you’ve ever eaten a meal with a baby, you’ve likely seen them play with their food. So follow this instinct and turn it into art! We love this yogurt based finger paint that is perfect for even the tiniest hands.
If you’re looking for something a little more mess free, take a piece of paper and put some big globs of paint on it. Then, carefully slide the paper into a large Ziploc bag. Seal the bag and let your baby rub the paint around – while staying clean! Pull out the paper to dry and repeat for as long as your baby enjoys it!
5. Practice Gross Motor Skills for Babies
Babies need lots of free reign to explore their world- and that means practicing their burgeoning gross motor skills. Younger babies might practice the arm movements needed to reach for toys or to lift themselves an inch or two of the ground (think the Cobra move from yoga).
As they get older, babies will practice pushing to their hands and knees, pulling themselves to stand, and eventually crawling and walking. Give your baby the physical space they need to test their new skills out. A little help is great, but letting them explore on their own is key to their growth and development.
6. Opportunities to Improve Fine Motor Skills
Coordinating their hand and eye movements is a big deal for little people. They’ll start by reaching for toys– like using one of these play mats with a mobile attached– and will soon learn to pass an object between their two hands, or point to something they want. We love these Poke-a-Dot books to encourage babies to use their little fingers to “read” this book.
There are tons of ways for older babies to practice their fine motor skills. Feeding themselves cheerios, holding a paintbrush, or clapping their hands are all setting the stage for stronger hands (and stronger fine motor skills!) in the future. Edible playdough (grab our recipe here) is another way to practice their hand strength by pulling, tearing, and pushing the playdough around their high chair.
7. Sensory Activities for Babies
When I think of sensory activities, I often think of messy bins that I’m going to have to clean up later. But for babies, everything is a new sensory experience! From touch to taste to sounds, sensory opportunities are everywhere. One of babies first sensory experiences may be just by touching the world around them. Make sure to provide toys or objects with different textures.
We love soft cloth books like these that have taggies of various textures, crinkle pages and squeaks. These are great for even the youngest of babies. Once your baby is older and can grip toys like balls, consider these textured balls that will stimulate baby’s tactile stimulation. Baby can stay dry, while still exploring water, with this sensory playmat, that’s perfect for tummy time.
And once your child can sit independently, they may be ready for the baby swings! Swings provide a wonderful variety of sensory experiences for babies. They feel the wind on their face, the pressure of the swinging motion, and you’re almost guaranteed to get a giggle! Follow your little one’s lead for speed and how high you swing, but don’t be afraid to try!
8 Tummy Time
Yes, it’s the bane of existence for many babies, but tummy time is incredibly beneficial and necessary. And since lots of babies hate tummy time, there are a lot of great toys to help entertain your baby. If you have room, your baby will love a large playmat. This is great for baby laying on their back or on their tummy. The toys around the edge might even encourage your baby to roll, scoot and get ready to crawl!
If a large playmat is overwhelming or takes up too much space, consider a few small items. Babies love to look at themselves and watch as they try out new expressions. We love this floor mirror during tummy time as baby gets so distracted looking at themselves they might just forget how angry they were that you put them on their belly!
9. Play with Friends
While I use the term “friends” loosely, it’s important that even babies learn to socialize from a young age. If it’s your first child especially, they may not get an opportunity to interact with other children if we don’t go out there and make friends. My son’s first friends were made at storytime at our nearby library. Check with your local library system to see if they have a story time for babies. Our story time included books, music, and free time for babies to play together. They’ll be playing next to each other for a while, but this is a major building block for their social interactions.
Kids learn valuable skills from playing with other kids. They learn about taking turns (not necessarily sharing!) and navigating conflicts. They learn to engage in the give-and-take aspect of play that is often missing in interactions with other adults.Getting your baby used to playing with other kids is not always easy- in fact, it could possibly be the hardest part of your day- but it is absolutely crucial to their development that they do so.
And even if your baby doesn’t necessarily need “playtime” with kids yet? We bet you could use a little grown-up time for yourself. Accomplish both missions at the same time by organizing a playdate with moms who have other babies in the same age range as your little ones.
10. NEED SOMETHING (Eat and Sleep)
Let’s face it mama, these early days are pretty dependent on the physical needs of your little one. They sleep a lot during the day (and hopefully at night time, too!) because their growing bodies need the rest. When they are awake, there is lots of physical caretaking that goes on. Baths to take, milk to drink, diapers to be changed- caring for a baby is a full time job in and of itself.
If all you do is meet these physical needs, you have done enough. It’s okay to not jump through all the hoops every day- we promise your baby will grow up healthy, strong, and well adjusted- even if you skip that rendition of “Good Night Moon” once in a while.