How To Keep Babies Busy In Lockdown, Even Just For 10 Minutes

Parents of babies share their tips for balancing work and child care during the coronavirus pandemic.
Staying home during the pandemic has led to many challenges for working parents. 
Staying home during the pandemic has led to many challenges for working parents. 

It’s no secret that parents are having a particularly difficult time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing means balancing remote work, household chores, child care, homeschooling and leisure activities to keep everyone happy and healthy.

But while there are endless worksheets, scavenger hunts, videos and activities available for school-age kids in lockdown, parents of babies have fewer options. We scoured the internet and asked parents in several HuffPost Facebook communities for their advice for keeping babies entertained.

“This has been so incredibly difficult ― nearly impossible,” HuffPost reader Carissa Meg wrote. “I have a 9 month old. Keep in mind, she was 7 months old when this started. She is changing so quickly, so what worked one day doesn’t necessarily work the next. She went from three naps to two naps during these two months, and I imagine I may still be working from home when she transitions to one nap.”

Having a baby to care for can be a blessing in lockdown, but it can also be extra exhausting since they require constant attention and supervision. Still, there are ways to keep your baby entertained and secure with you in the moments when you have to answer a quick email or make a phone call. And there are resources full of fun ideas for parents looking for new things to do with their babies during this time of 24/7 togetherness.

Read on for advice from fellow parents. And above all, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. As Meg wrote, “We just have to do what we have to do and keep reminding ourselves they are loved and they are safe.”

Learning Toys

“I have to give [my daughter] my focus most of the time. I might be able to buy myself 10 minutes max to hop on a call or catch up on email while she plays with Linkimals,” Meg wrote. “These are neat because they teach colors, letters, numbers and some fine motor skill activities.”

Developmental toys are a great way to keep babies occupied and entertained while learning. There are many different options for different stages in a baby’s first year.

Activity Centers

Meg said she also keeps her daughter busy with “a table she can stand in safely with various activities at her fingertips.”

Activity centers (both stationary and mobile) have been very popular for parents with little ones at home ― even in pre-pandemic times. With the challenges of work-life balance in lockdown, it’s no surprise they’re being put to good use.

Educational Shows

Expert recommendations generally advise against screen time for babies, but stressed-out parents know that isn’t always realistic. Educational shows and videos geared toward tiny tots can be a saving grace during social distancing.

“I’m sure I’m about to get a ton of crap for this, but we probably wouldn’t survive without ‘Sesame Street’ and ‘Mickey’s Clubhouse,’” Raven Kenworthy told HuffPost. “I have an almost 8-month-old, and while my husband and I share parenting duties during the day, there are times we can’t avoid when we’re both on a call or need to be on our computers. That’s where his bouncer and a show comes in handy. It buys us about 10-15 minutes.”

Baby Books

Parents can read their babies books and then let them flip through and play with them. Meg said she’s had luck with “board books that sing songs.”

Many babies prefer chewing on their books rather than looking at them, so it could be worth checking out the offerings from “Indestructibles,” a brand of “rip proof, chew proof, nontoxic, 100% washable” books for babies.

Runs And Walks

HuffPost reader Lauren Mikov recommended “runs in the jogging stroller and walks wearing a baby carrier!” This can be mutually beneficial since parents may be able to catch up on a phone call or podcast ― or just get some fresh air and exercise ― while keeping their babies stimulated.

“We find he sleeps better at night and is more cooperative throughout the day if he gets some outdoor time,” Mikov said of her baby son.

Educational Apps

Again, screen time is not ideal, but desperate parents can keep their infants entertained with educational games and apps geared toward babies.

The EasyPeasy app has options specifically for little ones in the 0-2 years age range. Other apps offer games geared toward different developmental levels and skills.

Sensory Activities

There are countless ways to promote babies’ development without any sort of screen. Activities that engage different senses can be very simple and stimulating. HuffPost reader Gennie Bruce Gorback, who is an early childhood educator and stay-at-home mom, created a Facebook group to offer parents ideas for “developmentally appropriate play, using items they can find around the house.”

She recommends baby-friendly activities like playing with rattles, banging on drums (probably best during non-work hours), exploring ice and warm water, playing with texture balloons, and learning about sinking and floating.

Sibling Interactions

If your baby has an older sibling at home, it might be worth letting them entertain each other (in the presence of an adult). Scholastic has a list of activities for preschoolers and babies to try together, like show and tell or making funny faces.

Ideas From Parenting Resources

In addition to the ideas and resources mentioned above, there are tons of websites full of options for baby play and entertainment.

The nonprofit Zero To Three has lists of play ideas for babies ages 0 to 12 months, including ones broken down by month of the year. Parenting platform Healthynest has videos with developmental activities for babies. The U.K.’s National Health Service website also has a list of safe play activities.

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