What to take, what to borrow and what to reuse whilst on holiday with your littlest travel companion. Read on to find out more and no, it doesn’t involve taking a suitcase full of toys with you!
This post mainly focuses on babies aged 6 months and over. It is a compilation of previous posts on baby play so please refer to the original posts for more details on age appropriateness and modifications. Please note that when I do make age suggestions, they are based on developmental milestones and my own experiences as a mother of three. Please do not attempt any activities before your baby is ready and as always, only do these activities under strict supervision.
What to take:
- Chenille sticks (cut off any sharp ends)
- Craft sticks
- Silks (2 would be great)
- Washi tape
- 3-4 hand-held animals (duplo or little people would be great)
- 2 books
These should all fit inside a A4 style pouch bag (as shown in the photo), which can also be used for play.
What to reuse:
- Small plastic bottles (avoid ones with a small lid – we opted for innocent juice bottles as pictured)
- Pringles can or coffee can
- Takeaway coffee cups
What to borrow:
- Wooden spoons
- Pots and pans
Activities to try:
With the materials listed, there’s no shortage of activities you can try with your little ones on holiday. Don’t forget that they will also likely be super excited by their new surroundings AND be spending plenty of time outdoors exploring so expectations need to be shifted slightly to accommodate.
Most of these activities (excluding the ones with borrowed materials) are suitable to take out and about to restaurants and cafes. Just be sure to supervise closely with small parts such as washi tape.
Craft Stick Posting
This particular activity is great for hand-eye coordination – start with an empty bottle with a wide neck, then move on to more challenging versions such as a Pringle can with a small slit (top right) or a takeaway coffee cup / Keep Cup.
Don’t be in a rush to present the harder version of the activity . This does require a lot of focus and use of the pincer grip so to begin with, simply posting into the empty bottle will be enough – especially if you are using this as an occupier in cafes or restaurants.
For younger babies, just use the bottle as a sensory bottle or sound shaker instead, as shown below:
Pots and Pans Band
Never underestimate the power of a good pots and pans jam! It’s an old favourite of ours. Try it when you’ve got food prep to do or on a rainy day when you’re stuck in the apartment. This musical activity is a wonderful way for babies and tabies to express themselves creatively and is particularly great for getting any frustrations out.
Silk Scarf Pull
Place the play silks inside an o-ball, whisk or even an empty baby wipe packet for Baby to pull out. For E (14 months) we also did a chenille stick version of this for a little bit of extra challenge – see below for more details.
This activity is great for: hand-eye coordination, pincer grip, bilateral coordination so definitely give it a try!
Pipe Cleaner Twist
This idea came to me whilst on holiday when I had Mr E downstairs in the kitchen with me and i’d left the silk scarves (from the above activity) upstairs. I simply twisted pipe cleaners (that had been cut in half) around the whisk for Mr E to explore. This was the right level of challenge for my 14 month old and he loved figuring out how to untwist the cleaners. With a younger baby, I would’ve probably just wound the cleaners through the whisk as an easier option.
Just a word on safety here: The pipe cleaners do tend to have sharp end points so a good tip is to snip the end off. That being said, close supervision is always required.
Attach craft sticks or the Duplo animals to a low table or high chair using washi tape. Baby should automatically do the rest as their natural curiosity will take over! Mr E did the below left activity at 14 months and the below right at 11 months. We tend to do a variety of table top and vertical ‘rescues’ for variety.
Modify for younger babies by simply using the tape. Just make sure this activity is closely supervised as otherwise you’ll find baby trying to eat the tape!
Who doesn’t love Peekaboo? It’s such a favourite for babies especially! Use the play silks to hide the Duplo animals or even your face. Peekaboo is a great way to work on babies sense of object permanence and can be used with really tiny babies and toddlers alike.
The beauty of the scarf is that it is lightweight – just pop in your handbag or nappy bag for some truly portable play. We use ours at cafes and on long car journeys too.
Animal names / sounds
Sometimes activities seem too simple to even blog about, but that doesn’t mean that they are any less beneficial. Putting a small selection of animals into a basket is a great way to work on animal names and sounds – we seemed to repeat this on a daily basis whilst on holiday! Pro tip, choose animals that have easily recognisable sounds. I did really struggle with the giraffe and turtle!
This is another activity that can really be done with a variety of age groups, but from 7 months plus when baby starts to sit independently for longer periods of time is when this activity really starts to capture interest. Eventually bub will start to mimic the sounds or say the animal names. With tabies and toddlers, try asking questions, ‘where is the elephant?’ or what colour is the giraffe? to extend their interest.
This is an old favourite activity of ours. It works particularly well because you can use it in a variety of ways: younger explorers (around 9 months plus for this activity) can simply pull out the pipe cleaners, whereas older tabies and toddlers can also thread the pipe cleaners back in. (Another ‘pull’ activity here.)
As mentioned with the pipe cleaner activity above, please supervise carefully and try snipping the sharp ends of the cleaners first.
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