If you’re a new mom, you've probably been trapped inside, breastfeeding every few hours, changing endless diapers, and generally catching sleep whenever the opportunity arises. And though having a tiny baby might make you sometimes feel a little overwhelmed and disconnected from the outside world, the good news is, most newborns are highly portable. If you catch one of those lengthy naps, you can basically do anything. Here are some awesome things to do with your newborn baby throughout the year.
Head to your local park with a blanket and lunch. Let your baby feel the grass tickle his feet, and have him lie on your lap and watch the leaves rustle in the wind. Even if he's too young to roll a ball, he'll love watching other people play. Frisbee games, bikes, dogs, birds, and squirrels are all five-star entertainment.
Because of unpredictable naps and moods, babies who are younger than 6 months don't always get a huge amount out of classes. Moms probably benefit more from them – and that's okay as long as you choose an activity you actually enjoy! Some examples: Mommy and Me yoga (check your local yoga studio), a music class like Music Together or Kindermusik, a group exercise class such as Stroller Strides or Strollercize, or infant massage (hospitals often offer classes).
Many community pools will post designated times for family swim, when the crowds thin out and you don’t have to avoid splashing teenagers or serious lap swimmers. Hop in and watch your baby’s face light up as she experiences the magic feeling of weightlessness for the first time.
Buy a big box of chunky sidewalk chalk and sit beside your babe, doodling all over your driveway or sidewalk. It doesn’t matter if he isn’t old enough to draw his own stick figures. He’ll enjoy “helping” you and you’ll end up with a colorful entryway to your home.
As soon as you manage to send one batch of baby photos to loved ones, you're hounded for new pictures. Thankfully, today's technology can make sharing milestones a creative project. Robyn Wolkofsky, of Charlotte, North Carolina, used a digital camera to record mini videos of her daughter, Brooke, each day. Then she sent the short movies via the Internet to her baby's grandparents. "When I sat Brooke on my lap in front of the camera, she turned into such a ham-cooing and blowing raspberries. It was so funny, and it helped her grandparents, who live eight states away, feel close to her."
Go to the pet store, and watch your baby laugh with glee when she sees the puppies and kittens jumping around. Identify the animals, and then help her wave hello to each of them. Exotic-bird stores can be entertaining, too, especially if the bird gives your baby a shout-out.
Zoo: If your baby lights up every time you reach for Good Night, Gorilla, he’ll have a blast pointing to lions right in front of him. You don’t have to make a day of it, either. Have a laugh with the monkeys and then head home for naptime.
Butterfly Conservatory: Strap your sweetie into your baby carrier for a stroll through a world of fluttering, colorful creatures. If one lands on your baby’s head, make sure someone’s there to snap the moment.
Botanical Garden: Many of them now have playgrounds and fountain areas that are a haven for toddlers. And you get to smell the roses and feel like an earth goddess.
Animal Farm: The snorts and brays may fascinate or startle your baby at first, but if you enjoy the sounds, he’ll take his cue from you. Plus, chickens bobbing IRL is awesome-sauce!
Get out your wedding video and have fun reminiscing about your big day, while pointing out all the guests your baby knows. He'll be amazed to see them on TV! "My son, Jack, liked watching our video so much that more than two years later, he still asks me to turn on 'The Wedding Show,'" says Laurie Rosen, of Westchester, New York.
Always wanted to polish up your Spanish or learn the basics of French? Do it! Borrow language tapes from the library, or find them online. Then practice them around your child. You can also find storybooks in Spanish to read aloud. Your baby may not actually pick up any words, but research has shown that a baby's exposure to another language can help improve her mastery of foreign languages down the road.
Relaxing in a tub can be a reality! Listen to classical music or sing a lullaby as you soak together in warm water. If your baby is feeling more playful, add in some bath toys and plastic cups, and sing Ernie's "Rubber Duckie." Either way, it's a great bonding experience. For safety reasons, be sure not to fill the tub too high, and always have a firm hold on your child.
For some reason, new motherhood can bring out our inner craftswoman. Dreams of adorable, hand-sewn stuffed animals dance in our heads (even if we've never held a needle and thread). Spend some time in a fabric store, and you'll be inspired to channel your energy into a creative project. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the selection, ask staffers to suggest some ideas, including those of the no-sew variety. At the same time, make the shopping experience a visual and tactile adventure for your baby. Expose him to furry fabrics, yards of shimmery sequins, and rolls of satin ribbons.
Play With Water: Dip your baby’s toes in an outdoor park’s water fountain and get rewarded with peals of laughter.
Admire New Construction: Pause across the street from that big cement mixer; it’s fascinating for wee ones, and really for anyone. How do those things work?
Visit the Local Farmer's Market: Life is good when you can teach your baby his colors by strolling the produce stands! Also, it’s an opportunity to hit up the dog moms so your baby can meet a furry friend.