At times, the first year of your baby's life might feeling like it's crawling by (much slower than your baby, probably!). But in truth, those introductory twelve months whizz by in a flash of milestones and memories, evidence of which is probably still on your phone. The weeks go by so fast, in fact, that some of our best-laid plans (professional photo shoots, anyone?) never come to pass. That's okay, though, because there are still plenty of totally doable things to do with your baby before her first birthday that will never be quite as sweet again.
Young babies have a way of looking at the world that makes everything seem flat-out amazing, from airplanes to caterpillars to ice cubes to remote controls. That means even the simplest of outings or activities have the potential to completely blow their little minds. In fact, sometimes it's the simpler things that appeal to babies the most. So even though you might be anxious to share some of your favorite big kid pastimes that you remember so fondly from your own childhood with your baby, take advantage of this time to cash in on some of the more blissfully basic things life has to offer. And keep in mind that if you're actually have a recollection of it, you were probably well past your own first birthday when you experienced it.
Here are some ideas of activities to do with your baby before they turn one to get you started.
1. Go on a nature walk
The idea of hitting the trails with an infant might seem like more of a workout for you than a fun time for them. Still, no matter where you live or what the season, your baby will get so much out of the experience — even if they're on your back (or in the stroller) the whole time. Don't be afraid to let them get up close and personal with the flora and fauna: Encourage them to hold a leaf, or run their fingers through blades of grass, or even dip their toes in a stream. So much all-natural sensory enrichment!
2. Ride through a car wash
If ever there was a moment to capture on video for posterity (and decades of laughter), it's your baby's first ride through a car wash. The water! The suds! The big brushy things! Who knows what might happen next? (Definitely not your baby, which is why this thrill ride is a rollercoaster of emotions.)
3. Visit a farm
Take our advice and save the full-on zoo experience for when your baby has the patience to wait in line for 15 minutes to catch a glimpse of a tiger sleeping several yards away (so, never?). The farm is a must for kids under one, who get about as excited to see a cow IRL as you would if Beyoncé showed up at the grocery store.
4. Give them an entire box of tissues
This one might seem random (and a touch wasteful), but every baby deserves the experience of pulling apart a whole box of tissues one by one and tossing them in the air. (Also, every parent deserves to have this experience on video to look back on when their baby has morphed into a sullen tween.) It's a memory that's worth the price of a box of Kleenex and then some!
5. Take a 'mommy and me' music class
Does signing your child up for a class where you and a bunch of other caregivers sit on the floor while your bewildered babies chew on tambourines guarantee they'll grow up to be a musical genius? Probably not, but they'll love it anyway, and you will too. Plus, classes like these can be great places to make mom friends.
6. Dress him in ridiculous clothes
Before you know it, your compliant little bundle will have a bunch of opinions about what you dress them in, so now's the time to push the hats with ears and ironic onesies. Take pics!
7. Go to a children's museum
Just because your baby is still years away from being able to appreciate abstract expressionism or ancient Greek pottery doesn't mean they can't have a blast at a museum — or, to put a finer point on it, a children's museum. Most museums of this kind have plenty of activities for the one-and-under set, including big foam structures to crawl through, water tables and more. (You're guaranteed a solid afternoon nap after this one!)
8. Cool off in the sprinklers
Whether you're lucky enough to live near a playground with built-in sprinklers or you happen to have some in the backyard, there's nothing quite like watching a baby learn (over and over and over again) that water is indeed wet.
9. Get them used to a babysitter
It's a zillion times easier for your baby to get used to a sitter in those early months before separation anxiety sets in, so if possible, use this first year to find a sitter or two you can rely on for whatever your needs might be.
10. Find a favorite playground
Even if your baby is too little to take a turn on the slide (without help) or tackle the jungle gym, it's worth it to find a local park that can become your go-to spot and get familiar with everything it has to offer.
11. Blow all the bubbles
The truth is, kids of every age love bubbles — but babies under one like, love bubbles. They can't master the mechanism of blowing them just yet, but as long as you're willing to sit there and wave that wand, you'll keep them entertained for hours.
12. Get On A Plane
While the idea of traveling with an infant seems daunting (that's because it definitely can be), did you know that babies fly for free until they're two? That's a few hundred bucks you would save just on the airline tickets alone while taking a family vacation, not to mention all the souvenirs you won't have to buy them because they're not old enough to demand every over-priced trinket from the airport gift shop yet. And while they may not remember these early family vacations, they'll still love looking back at the photos when they're older.
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