Curing Cabin Fever with Babies and Toddlers
By: Pamela Brill
It's only one month into the New Year, and you're already feeling the sting of the cold weather season. Staying indoors for much of the day with a newborn and/or a toddler can be especially challenging when the temperature is below freezing, not to mention in the height of cold and flu season. If you feel like you are slowly becoming unhinged and that your regular daytime routine could use a boost, take heart. Experts reveal their tips and tricks for surviving cabin fever with little ones, without breaking a sweat.
Eat, sleep, poop, repeat. Such is the relatively predictable life of a baby, but no one ever said the day-to-day routine was exciting. While in warmer weather you might be able to add some time for a swing ride at the park or the backyard, or a stroller walk around your neighborhood, the cold and snow nixes those ideas for the time being.
If you have a newborn, consider this the perfect time to try something new like infant massage. Parenting coach Rachel Rainbolt (www.sageparenting.com) says it's a "wonderful way to spend time indoors with infants that is full of health benefits for both baby and mom." She also recommends the simple act of laying on the floor with your baby, particularly in front of a sliding glass door or mirror where she can watch you and see her own reflection.
Older babies that require more stimulation and attention prompt you to become more creative. Blogger Dani Silbermann (www.babyjakesmom.com) suggests filling up your bathtub or a small inflatable pool with plastic balls for an instant indoor ball pond. She is also a fan of repurposing common household items that can be a great source of amusement for an inquisitive baby. "Unpacking kitchen cupboards [especially plastic containers] can provide hours of amusement," she says. "A wooden spoon and empty mixing bowl are equally riveting to a tiny tot." Magnets for the fridge are also great fun for little ones, who can move them around and make up their own pictures and stories. "You don't have to invest in expensive toys…my son used to love watching the washing machine go around and around," adds Silbermann.
Toddler Time Reinvented
Keeping older kids occupied requires a bit more innovation, but because they are a bit hardier, you might be able to stretch your options. Rainbolt recommends bundling them up and heading outdoors for a bit. "In Sweden they say, 'There is no bad weather, just bad dress.' A little fresh air and movement can go a long way for everyone in the family," she says.
Once you're back inside, plan to get crafty by scouring the Internet for age-appropriate, easy-to-do activities. "There's no shortage of craft ideas on Pinterest: make your own playdough, painting, sticking, stamping…you name it," says Silbermann.
And remember that you don't always need to be "on." Sometimes, she advises, the most basic stuff turns out to be the most enjoyable. "Use the time at home together to reconnect, and see it as an opportunity to zone out of the noise and the constant scheduling," she says. For instance, put on some music, jump on the bed or dance. "Sounds cheesy until you do it. And then you'll appreciate the value of just being silly with your kid," adds Silbermann.