Cheap fun for babies: Simple ways to make your child's day

Here are some ways to make the day fun for babies and toddlers. Authored by Evonne Lack, The #1 pregnancy and parenting digital destination, BabyCenter reaches more than 45 million parents a month from every corner of the globe through its 11 owned and operated properties in 9 different languages. Image courtesy of Anna Om via Bigstockphoto.

It doesn’t take much to thrill a baby. And sometimes it’s the “small stuff” that makes the biggest impression – a sunbeam shining on the rug, an empty cardboard box, or birds chattering away outside. And these simple thrills don’t cost a dime.

In that spirit, here’s a collection of five simple, cheap activities that are sure to be a bright spot in your baby’s day – and yours!

Let ‘er rip

Maybe it’s that pleasing shredding sound or maybe it’s the satisfaction of shaping paper into something new, but babies love to tear up paper. So plunder your recycling box for magazines or junk mail – and have at it. (Play together and stay close by. Paper is a choking hazard.)

Dog days

You could take your baby to the zoo, but don’t be surprised if he falls fast asleep – or favors the water fountain over the orangutans. Instead, go to a park where he can watch dogs playing. It’s a lot less overwhelming and every bit as exciting – plus it doesn’t cost a penny.

Just be sure to practice good safety habits about having kids around dogs. You might want to carry your baby in your arms or a baby carrier to make sure he’s safely out the way of any rambunctious pups.

Flashlight games

Turn off the lights, close the blinds, grab a flashlight, and lie back on the floor for a rockin’ light show with your little one. Dance the light beam along the ceiling and walls as your baby stares in delight. An older baby might like to try holding the flashlight herself (though you shouldn’t be surprised if all she does is gum it). Be sure to store the flashlight safely away when you’re done.

Dining out

For a change of pace, have an impromptu picnic in the backyard, out on the front stoop, or at the park. Put down a tablecloth instead of a blanket and set out your baby’s food so he can pick and choose from his own little buffet. And cleanup is a breeze – when you’re ready to pack up, just shake out the tablecloth and you’re done.

During the winter, you can do an indoor version using a plastic tablecloth on the floor. Make sure the room is warm enough, then put your baby down on it wearing only his diaper. Set out his favorite messy foods and let him have a ball. He’ll need a bath afterward, but it will be worth it.

Go clubbing

In your living room, that is. Turn on your favorite music and dance with your baby in your arms. She’ll be in seventh heaven – after all, she’ll be simultaneously enjoying three of her favorite things in the world: music, bouncing, and closeness to you.