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8 Free and Cheap Things to do with Your Baby at Home

8 Free and Cheap Things to do with Your Baby at Home

It's sweltering in London, and if you're anything like me you've probably been trying to hide from the heat as much as possible because dragging a warm, sweaty baby around the capital isn't much fun (especially as the buses seem to be hotter than the surface of the sun this week).

So moving slightly away from our usual programming, here's a collection of the things that I've been up to. Naturally, there are lots of things you can do to entertain a baby for free - I think the problem comes when you've gone through them all, you've read The Gruffalo more times than you care to count, and you're growing a bit sick of the same toys. Hopefully at least a few of these will help you mix it up this weekend.

Sensory bottles

Sensory bottles are fantastic and very easy to make - just take an empty small bottle (hotel toiletry bottles are pretty good for this) and fill it with interesting things. My baby's favourite is just 3/4 full of rice and sprinkles, so it's essentially a rattle she can see into. Some others have glitter, ink. pom poms, colourful paperclips, beads, and bits of tinsel floating in a mixture of baby oil and water. The baby oil's important because it slows down movement so they stay interesting for longer. Then shake or swirl them and let your baby enjoy the sight or sound.

Just remember to glue or tape them shut when you're done - I don't think a mixture of baby oil and glitter will be very fun to clean up otherwise.

A sound tour of your home

This sounds bizarre but it's a great way to wind down a bit and find things your baby's interested in - my first sound tour helped me discover the fact that my baby loves watching and listening to the kettle boil. Just walk around the flat and open things, tap on things, turn things on and off (like the kettle, extractor unit, taps, the shower, etc). You're showing your baby what things around the house sound like, and it's surprisingly interesting for them.

Discovery box

You've probably got a lot of nappy boxes lying around - if you take two sides off and put some holes through them you can thread ribbons, toys, and teethers on string through them for your baby to pull on and play with.

Sensory boards

And if you want to keep using cardboard from nappy boxes, sensory boards are another option. Just cut a strip of card a few inches thick and glue on different things with contrasting and interesting textures, like cling film, baking paper, sellotape, some fabric from old clothes, stickers, wrapping paper, etc. for your baby to touch and explore.

The alphabet game

When I can't think of many things to chat about, I play the alphabet game, which basically means I name things beginning with each letter of the alphabet and then talk about them. Sometimes they're themed (listing animals, places, foods) and sometimes I just name the first thing that comes to mind.

Make a playlist (and dance to it)

It might be a bit too hot for this, but it's never too early to start indoctrinating your baby to your music tastes. We have a growing playlist for our baby, and it turns out she wiggles her hands to Royal Blood and Queen the most.

Read the poem of the day

The Poetry Foundation does a poem of the day each day - the quality definitely varies but when you find one that you like, you can read some more from that poet and chat about what you like or don't like about it. This and the alphabet game definitely got me through some very tired mornings with a newborn and made me feel less like my brain was melting out of my ears.

Make hand and footprints

I didn't even think to do this until someone mentioned them to me, but you can buy inkless hand and footprint kits to commemorate how tiny your baby is. You just have to wipe them with a wet wipe and press their hand or foot on some paper to see it develop, so no messy paint to wash off them later (or find around the house for days).

Good luck in the heat - here's to 22 degrees on Tuesday!