While standing in line at the grocery store, I witnessed a dad getting it right. He was making silly faces at his baby and keeping the frustrated tears at bay. Interacting with children and making the mundane fun is an important skill. Without a few tricks up your sleeve, running errands with babies can quickly take a wrong turn.
Bored babies are cranky babies. Keep them engaged at the moment, even on the go, with a few easy tricks.
Babies haven’t seen a lot of the things we take for granted. Use this to your advantage. Find all the shiny visual distractions, animals, and colorful displays. Point them out to your baby; let them soak in the wonder of the world.
Factor in Breaks
When you have a multitude of things to get done in a short amount of time, a break may seem like a ridiculous luxury, but factoring in a pit stop can make the entire day go smoother. Another way to implement breaks is to plan your errands around a story hour at the library; do your running before and after, but soak in the much needed quiet time.
Like the “good dad” that I ran into at the grocery store, distract a baby with a silly face, lean in, and get a good look and then move away. Keep them guessing with different looks, encourage your baby to imitate your hand movements and looks. In my example, the man had his one-year-old scratching his chin and looking thoughtful, then sticking out his tongue and closing his eyes the next.
Hold something back to pull out in an emergency. You could stash a favorite toy or treat in the car or your purse, or something they have never seen, whether that is a weird little novelty toy from the dollar store or a securely sealed container full of beans to shake. Show that baby who the magical mama is.
Test your communication skills by holding a one-sided conversation throughout the day. Explain what you are doing, where you are going, and why. Language is caught, not taught, so give your baby a hand up. Provide words for the unusual things they see, put your constant movement in context, and point out how you prefer green grapes over purple grapes. No need to shout; a calm conversation is just as interesting and soothing for a baby.
Change your Tune
Recall the saying, “Music soothes the savage beast?” That is no judgment on your child, merely the truth. The vibrations in music resonate through the body and have the ability to alter emotions. You have probably experienced the mood-altering power of music and have certain songs that energize you an have no doubt felt the anxiety from a change in the music score during a movie. Regardless of your music taste, when the baby is cranky, consider changing the car’s tune or home.