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Babysitting, Babysitters, Childcare, Nanny, Nannies, Infants and Babies

Tips for Entertaining Children

Ideas for Entertaining Infants

Babies have short attention spans and are frequently interested in a toy or activity for only a FEW MINUTES at a time. Babysitters have to be patient with the baby. Don't expect more from the baby than he is old enough to give.

Birth to Six Months:

  • Rocking, cuddling, gentle handling
  • Brightly colored objects, that make noise or are soft to touch
  • Singing lullabies or playing a music box
  • Letting baby look in a mirror
  • Nursery games such as peek-a-boo, pat-a-cake, this little piggy, so big!

Six Months to One Year...

  • Games where baby drops object and you pick it up (make sure object is not breakable)
  • Nursery games as above
  • Stroller ride, if the weather is nice
  • Walk around the house looking at and naming things
  • Rolling a ball to baby

Ideas for Entertaining Toddlers

Toddlers are excited about learning and doing things for themselves. They do not share and are too young to play well with other children. However, they frequently enjoy playing beside other children.

Toddlers enjoy:

  • Building with blocks AND knocking them down
  • Action toys such as a toy they push or pull - toy sweepers, lawn mowers, wagons, and carts
  • Toys that let them play grown up such as telephones, dolls, tool sets, and dish sets
  • Outdoor play with balls, sandbox, or just exploring
  • Soft stuffed animals or puppets
  • Children's songs and finger games such as "Itsy-Bitsy Spider", "Row, Row, Row your Boat," or making music themselves with toy instruments
  • Simple games like "hide and seek." Be sure to hide so that part of you can be seen to allow the child to be successful at finding you. BEWARE OF SAFETY HAZARDS SUCH AS ELECTRICAL OUTLETS, STAIRS, AND STREETS.

Ideas for Entertaining School Age Children

Doing things with school age children can be a lot of fun for both of you. You may have forgotten how much fun some of these activities are:

Inside Activities:

  • Board games such as Clue, Monopoly
  • Word games such as Hang-Man and Scrabble
  • Game show games such as Win, Lose, or Draw
  • Reading

Outside Activities:

  • Jumping rope
  • "Mother May I," Red light/Green light
  • Playing catch or basketball, throwing Frisbees

Ideas for Entertaining Preschoolers

Preschoolers are able to do many things for themselves. However, they may require assistance with bedtime, eating, and toileting. Some ideas for entertaining preschoolers during quiet and active play are listed below.

Quiet Play...

  • Easy board games such as Candyland, Chutes and Ladders
  • Imaginative games such as playing school, store or spaceships
  • Listening to stories that you make up or read. DO NOT TELL SCARY STORIES WHEN YOU ARE BABYSITTING. Young children may become extremely frightened and have nightmares or trouble going to bed.

Active Play...

  • Taking a walk to find "treasures" such as pine cones, pretty rocks or other things
  • Tag or hide-and-seek
  • Riding toys - be careful to supervise

Playing with Play Dough

Keeping children busy indoors on rainy days can be a challenge for babysitters. Playing with play dough is always a favorite activity and it's even educational! Children enjoy pushing, rolling, squeezing, molding, and pounding gooey play dough. Some play dough tips:

  • Allow the child to just play with it without necessarily making anything.
  • Children enjoy making "play food" out of play dough, but be sure they really don't eat it!
  • Hard plastic toys, such as action figures and dinosaurs, are fun to hide in the play dough or to press to make an imprint. Be sure the toys are at least as big as the child's fist.
  • Be creative, have fun, and those spring showers will be over before you know it.

A well-prepared babysitter will be highly respected and greatly appreciated by parents.