Cool Stuff to do with Baby

    One of the best things about having kids is that they give you an excuse to do childish things. You could even take a dive down the slide at the playground by yourself - if you can find someone to hold the baby.

    When it's just you and your son for the afternoon, the playground is your oyster, and it's hard to imagine a better experience of pure joy than the sight of a baby laughing as you tickle him on the swings.

    When you take him on outings in his first year, think about sensory stimulation. At the zoo, head for the petting farm where he can grab a handful of sheep's wool and let the goats nibble off his palm. Don't try to explain the process by which the wool ends up as a sweater. At this age, he's still learning how to perceive the world around him, and since he can't speak yet, your long-winded explanations are just more noise (though please do engage him in simple conversational exchanges, the building blocks for his vocabulary).

    So let him feel things. Go to the beach and let him squeal as the cool waves wash over his toes (but remember that waves that would barely reach your ankles are more than enough to knock him down). Help him grab a handful of warm sand, and watch it run through his fingers. Put a hermit crab on his foot and see what happens when it comes out of the shell and starts to walk up his leg.

    And don't ignore the other senses. Put a shell to his ear at the beach and let him listen to the ocean, then go right up to the surf and point out the real thing. Stop and listen to street musicians. Check out the sudden roar when a little leaguer belts one into deep left field.

    There are so many fun places the two of you can go: the local children's museum, (yours might have an early childhood section just for babies), a free outdoor concert that you can leave if he starts crying, the tourist traps where the mimes and the robot-men hang out. Or just for a walk - you don't have to go somewhere that a grown-up would define as special to have a special time together.

    After all, don't the grocery store and the modern art museum both have Campbell's soup cans? For him, both are fun and new. When you do go to the museum, look at the colorful paintings and sculptures, and when you get home, make your own pictures. At the store he can feel the cold ice in the fish department and watch the live lobsters, and then you can both get a cheap snack.

    And don't forget, your backyard is full of sensory opportunities, from crawling on the scratchy grass to watching a convoy of ants dragging crumbs back to their nest.

    Ultimately, all you need to do to make the afternoon special is to spend time with your baby. Turn off your cell phone and the TV, stop checking your e-mail and just focus on him. As long as he has your undivided attention, he will be stimulated, interested and happy.


    This information is not a substitute for personal medical, psychiatric or psychological advice.