I love the feeling you get as summer starts. The kids are getting out of school and everyone is ready to relax and enjoy time together. But when you have an infant in the family, summer can also be hard to manage. From water safety to risk of sunburn to how easily a baby can get overheated on a hot, humid day, managing an infant during the summer can be overwhelming for any mom.
So, what can you do for safe summer fun with your infant?
The best thing to do with your infant in the summer is outings in air-conditioned environments, like visiting the pet store, going to story hour at the library, or taking a “mommy and me” class. These activities give your baby new experiences while keeping her out of the heat and sun. But there are many other options for summer fun with your infant, including outdoor activities completed before the day gets too hot as well as simple at-home fun.
Here are my top 13 ideas for having safe, stress-free fun with your infant this summer:
- Visit the pet store
- Attend library story hour
- Take a class together
- Find free tot concerts
- Do an early morning playground trip
- Watch the work at a construction site
- Attend a crybaby matinee
- Play toy bath time
- Try a baby splash pad
- Draw with sidewalk chalk
- Blow bubbles
- Have a baby dance party
- Play with sponges
1. Visit the Pet Store
One of the best places to get out of the heat and find endless free entertainment for your baby is your local pet store. Get in the stroller or shopping cart and wheel your baby around the store checking out the fish, snakes, turtles, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, and maybe even dogs and cats. She’ll be endlessly entertained, and you’ll get to enjoy the air conditioning while you’re at it.
2. Attend Library Story Hour
Most public libraries offer children’s programming for different age groups, including a story hour for babies and toddlers. The event will probably be more songs and fingerplays than stories for this age group, and your baby will love hearing the songs and rhymes and watching the “big kids” dance around.
3. Take a Class Together
There are so many “mommy and me” classes out there to enjoy with your baby, and summer is the perfect time to take one, when you would prefer to be indoors anyway. You can likely find, via private providers or your local park authority, classes aimed at infants and toddlers that focus on music and movement, baby tumbling/gymnastics, and mommy and baby yoga or fitness.
4. Find Free Tot Concerts
Many venues in your community are probably offering programming in the summer to attract moms and their kids. Look at local coffee shops, malls, etc. to see if they offer a free summer concert series for little ones. Your local park authority may also offer this type of programming at public parks.
The entertainment will be primarily aimed at older children (usually preschool-aged), but your infant will still enjoy being out and about, listening to music, and seeing the older kids dancing and running around. These events are usually held in the mid-morning so that everyone can get home for lunch and afternoon naps, so you can generally expect to enjoy these concerts before the day gets too hot.
5. Do an Early Morning Playground Trip
Much of the key to summer life with infants is getting an early start to your day so that you avoid the worst heat. Since your baby likely gets you up far too early anyway, take advantage of it and head out in the early morning hours for a visit to the playground or park.
Play on the swings, enjoy the baby slide, and maybe bring a blanket for a quick breakfast picnic. If you head home by mid-morning at the latest, you won’t have gotten overheated yet.
6. Watch the Work at a Construction Site
Babies are fascinated by vehicles. If you have a construction site reasonably near your home, head over in the stroller, or even drive there, and let your baby watch the work. You can talk about the types of machines they are using or what the machines and the people are doing.
If you’ve got toy dump trucks and other construction vehicles at home, you can play with them after your trip and talk more about what you saw. If you don’t have a construction site nearby, there are probably other vehicle-watching opportunities your baby will find just as interesting.
Buses, garbage trucks, and mail delivery trucks are all generally fascinating for babies to watch. It can even become part of your daily routine if your baby really takes to it and you have a bus, mail truck, etc. that comes on a reliable schedule.
7. Attend a Crybaby Matinee
The crybaby matinee is really an activity for mom, rather than for your baby, but sometimes mom needs a break!
Crybaby matinees are movie showings at local theaters that allow parents to bring young babies into the movie and the noise that the babies make is just part of the experience. It’s a way for moms to get out and enjoy some entertainment without needing a sitter and without having to worry that their baby is disturbing others.
Summer is, of course, the perfect time to get out of the heat into a nice cool movie theater and enjoy a show while your baby naps on your shoulder.
8. Play Toy Bath Time
Babies love bath time. Help them expand their imaginations by giving their toys a bath. Give them a large, shallow tray filled with water and perhaps some bubbles, and give them some toys (plastic dinosaurs or cars, say) that won’t be ruined in the water, and have them give the toys a bath.
Be sure to also give them a few measuring cups to play with – babies love to learn by filling up and pouring out cups of water.
9. Try a Baby Splash Pad
Water safety is always a big worry with babies, but if you are careful, you can still find ways for your baby to cool off with water play in the summer. One great way to do this is to get a splash pad designed for infants.
These small play areas look like a simple play mat, but they are also covered in small holes. When you hook them up to your garden hose, the mat will slightly inflate and release gentle sprays of water all around your giggling baby. Think of it as the baby version of summertime running through the sprinkler.
10. Draw with Sidewalk Chalk
For infants old enough to start gripping things well, sidewalk chalk can be a great first experience with artistic expression. It takes far less strength and pressure to get sidewalk chalk to make a rich color on the ground than it does to get a crayon to write boldly on paper. Your baby, especially if he’s new to trying out drawing, will be delighted at what he can create.
If he’s not yet very mobile, you may have to move him around a bit to give him new spaces to decorate, but if he takes to it, sidewalk chalk could keep him busy for quite a while.
One important safety note about chalk – be sure that you watch your baby very carefully since the chalk can break into small pieces that could be a choking hazard. Also, be sure that you check your chalk for lead content. Aim to get the large, chunky chalks specifically made for young children.
11. Blow Bubbles
Sometimes the simple things are the best. Blow bubbles and watch younger babies giggle and reach of them, and older babies move around trying to catch them.
You can get a bubble machine if you really want to cover your space with bubbles or go the old-fashioned route and just use a regular bubble wand to blow them yourself.
If it’s really hot are you’re desperate to avoid going outside, you can even blow bubbles in the house – try it over a tile floor and then be sure to wipe up afterwards to avoid slipping. Even better, put your baby in an empty bathtub and blow the bubbles at him in the tub. That way, you won’t have a messy floor to clean up at all.
12. Have a Baby Dance Party
Find some fun summer music, pick up your baby, and dance around the room. Your baby will love being close to you and taking in the sounds of the music.
13. Play with Sponges
Sponges are a great toy for babies because they have a unique texture, and they offer babies an interesting sensory experience as they expand (taking in water) and contract (squeezing the water out).
Give baby some sponges and a small tub of water and let her explore getting them wet, squeezing them out, and smushing the wet sponges onto nearby surfaces. You can do this activity on your driveway or deck if it’s cool and shady enough to be outside, or if you want to stay indoors, try doing it in an empty bathtub.
Summer can be stressful with an infant. Babies at this age get quickly overheated and should not be in direct sunlight, and they need a great deal of supervision around any water activity.
To reduce your stress and make sure that you have fun during the summer with your infant, focus on indoor activities or on completing any outdoor activities in the early morning hours. You and your baby will enjoy your summer much more if you focus on these safe, enjoyable activities together.