Your baby’s first year will be a whirlwind of dirty diapers, meeting milestones and flashing charming, toothless smiles. Amid all that, it’s hard to know when they’re ready for new experiences, like swim classes or their first airplane trip. Here’s our list of the best age to get started in a variety of activities.
Start Swim Class
The American Academy of Pediatrics says kids as young as age one may be ready to start swim lessons — and research suggests that swim lessons for kids under age four reduces the risk of drowning. If you have a water baby on your hands, your child might enjoy splashing around in a parent and me swim class starting at about six months of age.
Sign Up for Music Class
Your baby can hear music in the womb, so start playing tunes then for both of you to enjoy. At-home singing and swaying is soothing for tiny babies. By about seven months, when kids can sit up and bang a rattle, parent and me music class starts to be extra fun for little ones.
Have a Baby Massage
A gentle, soothing massage comforts little ones as young as a few days old and can help with tummy troubles and promote better sleep. Learn more about infant massage techniques by taking a class or read this Mayo Clinic guide, Infant Massage: Understand This Soothing Therapy.
Visit Your Local Children’s Museum
Most children’s museums have set up awesome, interactive centers specifically for babies and toddlers under three. They’re equipped with soft pillows to scramble across and big blocks to stack. Try this when your crawler or toddler needs a safe, fun place to explore, starting at about eight months of age. Check out our list of the most baby-friendly museums in the country for fun places to visit.
Try Out the Swings at the Park
The baby swings at the park are perfect for kids who can sit up on their own and control their head. Try out a swing at six months to see if your baby enjoys it, and expect them to love it by eight or nine months. To make the seat more comfortable for them, tuck a blanket in front of, or behind, your baby to fill out the bucket swing.
Go to Story Time at the Library
Most libraries across the country offer free! song and story-time sessions for babies and toddlers. Many have special "lap sit" classes for the youngest babes. Starting at around four months old, your child will love snuggling with you to enjoy rhymes, songs and super-short stories.
Visit the Zoo
A trip to the zoo offers loads of new sights and sounds for a stroller-bound nine-month old. A petting zoo can be a great sensory experience and a chance to practice farm animal sounds. If there's not a zoo nearby, you can get some animal time by heading to a local dog park to watch the puppies play.
Travel by Air
Sooner may be better than later for taking that first airplane trip. Once your baby is mobile, the temptation to crawl or walk will make it tough to sit on your lap for hours. At four to six months, when your baby is social and you have a daily routine in place, it's a good time to schedule a short plane ride. Time the flight for naptime, if possible, and bring toys, extra diapers and a change of clothes for both of you, in case of major messes. Find more tips for baby's first flight in our Ultimate Guide to Flying with Baby.
Try a Parent and Me Yoga Class
If your two month old naps easily in a car seat or stroller, try a mom and baby yoga class so you can get in a full workout. Some classes are also designed so that baby can participate in the movements.
Take a Family Photo
Professional photos can be expensive, but the results are magical. Once your child starts smiling and can sit up, usually at around four to five months old, they're full of grins, and this phase makes for fantastic family portraits.
Take a Hike or Run
Strolls around the block are great at any age, both for you and your baby. When your little is about 6 months old, try longer, bumpier treks into the great outdoors. At that age, babies can ride in a solid, structured back carrier, which makes your adorable load easier to carry on extended treks. This is also the age when it's safe for you to run with your baby in a jogging stroller.
Take a Baby Gym Class
Active crawlers, usually between eight to ten months, will get a kick out of a gym class. They can scramble over pyramids of pillows and giggle underneath a parachute, all in a super-cushioned play area. All that activity tires kids out, which usually translates into good, long naps.
Get a New Set of Wheels
At age one, your not-so-tiny-anymore baby should be ready to try a ride-on toy. From trikes to toddler-sized fire trucks, anything with wheels and foot-to-floor action is a hit with toddlers. It makes a great first-birthday present!
What activity are you most excited to try with your baby? Tell us in a comment.
— Oz Spies
Featured image: Michelle Gow via Flickr