When you have more than one child, life can easily become a juggling act and your job seems to be to keep everyone happy. The baby needs feeding, burping, changing and entertaining, but at the same time your older children want your time and attention too. This can be especially hard if you have school-aged children who are home for the holidays. Everyone seems to want something different from you, the different age ranges have different needs and meeting all of them can feel like an uphill struggle.
What if you could organise activities that allow your children to play together, without your constant intervention? Obviously they always need close supervising, but how nice would it be to put your feet up just for 5 minutes (and with any luck, more!) and watch them play independently?
These opportunities are not just good for you and your sanity, but your children benefit too because they get the chance to bond. Building a strong sibling relationship makes for a more contented family atmosphere. It certainly doesn’t mean they won’t argue, but if they have spent quality time with each other, they will grow up valuing the relationship and this makes recovery from arguments easier.
In this post, you will find 5 ideas for activities that your baby can do with their older siblings…
1) Row Your Boat and other songs
This can be played two ways, depending on the age of both your children. They can do this while singing ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat.’
For the younger ones: your older child sits with their legs open and the baby can sit in the middle. This keeps the baby stable and secure. The older sibling can lean back and forth rocking and pretending they are pulling the oars of a row boat.
For the older ones: your older child can lie down flat and the baby can straddle their older sibling; holding hands, they can rock back and forth as if your older child is the row boat.
Apart from ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’, your baby will probably already know a few other action rhymes. Even if they are not old enough to join in or sing, they will recognise a select few and respond with joy when they hear them. Some of the easiest to pick up include 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star', 'Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes' and 'Round and Round the Garden'.
Your older sibling will take great pleasure in teaching the baby what they already know well and often it will slip into a parent or teacher role-play game. You might want to play an audio of nursery rhymes to help your older child if they need inspiration and ideas, and you can download these, as well as other Tots Play favourites, HERE.
This game never loses its appeal! The ease of it makes it simple and fun for any age to play. There are many variations to this that you can teach your toddler to do, these include…
The older sibling hides behind their hands, blanket or scarf
The older sibling hides behind the sofa, a door or a bigger object and jumps out
The older sibling can play hide and seek with a favourite toy of the baby’s, hiding it just out of sight and then saying peek-a-boo when it reappears.
As baby gets older, they can then participate in the reveal and also be the one leading the 'peek-a-boo-ing'!
3) Roll the Ball
Have baby and their older sibling sitting opposite each other. Depending on the age of the baby will depend on the distance between them; the older they are, the bigger the distance can be. Using a light ball of any size (the bigger it is, the easier a young baby will find it to manipulate), your baby and sibling can roll the ball to each other - simple but very effective. If baby isn't sitting yet, this can also work with them laying on their tummy (great for tummy time practice) and their older sibling can roll the ball from side to side in front of them. Baby will be able to follow the movement of the ball with their eyes and head, which is great for their visual tracking and strengthening the muscles of the neck and back.
4) Baby Sleeping Lions
This is an altered version of the game that will amuse your baby and your older sibling; you may even enjoy it yourself! Your older sibling can lie down near your baby and pretend to be a sleeping lion. They have to practise being very still.
Your baby will naturally poke and prod your sibling and at a moment of surprise, they can leap into action and roar, reaching out and tickling their baby brother or sister.
As the baby gets older and able to crawl, this game can be extended with space, developing into a chasing game that will literally bring tears of joy to everyone involved.
*Warning – your older sibling will most likely want you to be the one to play the lion at some point, so be prepared to put your cup of tea down!*
5) Baby Class at Home
Teach your older sibling some of the activities you have learnt when taking your youngest to a baby class. If you have attended a class like Tots Play, there are lots to choose from including: physical play; sensory play; sign language; music; baby massage and yoga. You could pretend to be the teacher and your older child could be the parent, interacting with the baby under your instruction, or your older child might want to take a turn leading the class, or doing activities with a teddy or doll while you do them with your baby. One simple sensory idea you could incorporate is exploring the textures, shapes and colours of the vegetables you have at home, just like in the picture below.
Get More Ideas at Tots Play Classes Nationwide
Tots Play classes are multi-activity, developmental play sessions for babies and toddlers and are held nationwide. If you don’t yet attend but would like to find a class near you, click HERE and follow the links to your local area for more details.
Could You Be Our Next Franchisee?
Alternatively, if you particularly enjoyed the role of teacher in the game, then find out how you can do it for real and own your own business with Tots Play HERE.
However you plan to keep your little ones busy this week, enjoy your special time together and happy playing!
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