The theme song for parents of babies in 2020?
"Baby, it's Covid-19 outside".
If you have a less-than-a-year-old baby like I do, you probably haven't taken him or her out much. Well, maybe just to the paediatrician or maybe just around the block for a quick stroll.
No play dates, no restaurant outings with the extended family, no mall jaunts - because while you can put on a mask, it is uncomfortable and even dangerous for an infant to wear one.
So, what do you do when you are working from home or just stuck in your (typically cramped Singapore) home with a bawling, crawling baby who's not interested in whatever fancy, expensive toys your family and friends have been Speedpost-ing to you?
These are what I entertained my seven-month-old baby at home with - under constant adult supervision, of course.
Anything with knots
Better knotty than naughty, right? Little fingers love working their way over and through anything tactile, like knots in a string or fabric.
One of the safest and easiest ways to keep your little one engaged for a while (long enough for a toilet and coffee break, at least) is to tie knots in the corners of a soft, clean hanky and let her try to unknot them… or chew on them - aka a great teething toy if you aren't into plastic ones.
I call my humble bathroom one "The Magic Mirror". My baby probably doesn't know what those words mean at this age but no problem, as long as her own reflection (and mine) amuses this budding narcissist.
While carrying your child, move in and out of the "frame" so that it looks like a disappearing (or appearing) trick. Warning: hardcore arm power needed for this activity.
A packet of snacks
Don't get triggered. I don't mean feeding your baby with cashew nuts or potato chips. Instead, these make instant rattles - just shake the packet gently. Bonus points if the packaging comes with bright colours and cute illustrations. But do not let your child handle the packet as the sharp foil edges may prick her.
A piece of tissue
When the fan is switched on, I hold this in front of my baby's face and let it move with the wind. Watch how your kid tries to catch the tissue and, in an indirect way, turn a game into a motor skills development crash course.
Plus, you can then use the tissue to wipe away her drool.
Babies love scrutinising clothing labels - don't ask me why - especially if they come with details like washing instructions in the tiniest font size. Pass your child a soft towel or T-shirt with a clothing label and watch her fondle and "read" it.
Still on clothes… your wardrobe acts as a doorway to some quick fun for the little one. How? Let her strum her fingers across your clothes. Since they are made with different fabrics and have various textures, they give her fingers a good tactile workout.
You may not realise it but you are her biggest and best friend/toy at this age (try asking her this again when she turns 13).
Let her touch your face, make her laugh by running your fingertips over the ears, ruffle her hair and have a baby gibberish chat with her.
This article was first published in Wonderwall.sg.