Make every day special with your little one this Christmas with our festive-fun planner. There's a different activity to do with your baby every day throughout December, from making some homemade Christmas gifts together to checking out the neighbours festive lights, here's how you can keep them entertained.
1. Make elf post
How do Santa’s elves deliver post? Down the chimney of course! Create a house from a small cardboard box with the inner tube from a kitchen roll for the chimney. Cut a ‘door’ in the house big enough for your child to push open and close again. Now give the house some festive decoration. use painter’s tape to secure the chimney to a wall (painter’s tape can be left on any surface for several days without leaving a mark). Now, go to activityvillage.co.uk and print off fun Christmas picture outlines. Roll up each sheet of paper into a thin scroll and secure with a small-finger-friendly hairband. Now your youngster can ‘post’ his elf mail down the ‘chimney’ (it may need a helpful poke), open the door, take it out, discover the picture and colour it in. Hours of fun!
2. Make them 'ho ho ho'
As early as six weeks old, your baby will be starting to smile. By 14 weeks you may begin to hear him laughing at things he finds funny. One of the things that gives babies the giggles is seeing something unexpected. So, crank up the Christmas cheer by pulling on and off... and on again:
• A Santa’s beard
• A cracker hat
• Sparkly deely-boppers
• Reindeer antlers
• Pixie ears
3. Make a Christmas wreath
Help your toddler to turn his hula-hoop into a festive wreath by twining tinsel around it (ensure it’s firmly attached). Lay it on the ground and encourage your child to dance around it, jump in and out, or hold it in the air and see if he can step or dive through it.
4. Make jelly candy canes
A packet of sugar-free jelly, a deep baking tray, greaseproof paper, festive cookie cutters.
• Line the baking tin with the greaseproof paper, so it extends over the edge of the tin.
• Make the jelly then pour it into the baking tin and put in the fridge to set.
• Lift out the greaseproof paper and jelly and place it on a secure surface.
• Let your toddler use a cookie cutter to cut out his jelly candy cane, or if you have a baby aged six months plus, let him prod and squish the jelly. It's fun either way!
• Never give young children raw jelly cubes – they’re a choking hazard.
5. Hoof-print treasure hunt
Get some black or brown felt and cut out lots of small reindeer hoof-print shapes. Lay them in a treasure trail route for your toddler to follow... leading to a snack plate of raisins (reindeer droppings!)
6. This little piggy went to Christmas market
Babies love feeling as close to you as they can, and sharing nursery rhymes is a great opportunity to engage several of his senses at the same time. When you sing this festive version of This Little Piggy and play with your baby’s toes, he can see you, hear you, smell you and feel you – all at the same time!
This little piggy went to the Christmas market This little piggy stayed at home
This little piggy had Christmas cake
This little piggy had none
And this little piggy got on a sledge and went ‘Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!’
All the way home.
7. Make a cotton-ball snow scene
You’ll need lots of white cotton-wool balls, some vegetables (such as slivers of carrot and celery) chopped up into tiny pieces, raisins and a shallow baking tray. The baking tray is your picture frame and base. challenge your youngster to create…
• A snow scene
• A snowman line up (one big cotton wool ball will make a snowman’s tummy and a smaller cotton wool ball will be his face. add a sliver of carrot for each nose)
• Snow rabbits (the same as the snowmen but use celery slivers for the ears and raisins for the tails)
• An igloo
• Keep a close eye to make sure no cotton- wool balls go into your tot’s mouth
8. Light up the night
When you’re tiny there is nothing as exciting as being out in the dark, holding tight to a parent’s hand. So, take him for a magical walk at ‘night’ (it’s dark by 4pm!) and check out your neighbours’ fairy lights and illuminated Christmas decorations.
9. Open a Chris-mix gallery
Christmas is a great opportunity to heighten your baby’s awareness of his surroundings by introducing new things for him to look at. create a festive gallery by sticking christmassy pictures at baby-eye-view. if he’s sitting, this might mean putting the pictures on your wall, just above the skirting board! Babies love looking at faces, so choose a picture of the Baby Jesus, an angel, Father christmas, a christmas elf, a snowman, a robin, a donkey, granny in a party hat...
10. Watch out, the sprout’s about!
Get some paper cups and hide a sprout under one of them. your toddler must lift up as many of the cups as possible to find the sprout. Build the excitement with lots of dramatic ‘ooohing’ and enjoy building his hand-eye coordination!
11. Ring out those bells
By nine months your baby will probably be good at gripping and holding objects – so give him a small hand bell to jingle.Oor, for toddlers, take it up a notch and give him a set of small bells, each ringing a different note.
12. Dance like a turkey
Play some christmas carols and have a dance-off with your tot. Fold your arms and tuck your hands into your armpits, bend your knees, stick your bottom out – and dance! Dashing through the snow, on a one-horse open sleigh...
13. Make a gingerbread paper chain
• Fold an A4 piece of thin card into sections, accordion style.
• Draw a picture of a gingerbread man with a round head, no shoulders, arms that stretch out to the edge of the paper and a round tummy and round, curvy legs.
• Cut around the figure from under the arm, around the legs and under the other arm. then cut out the top half, around his head and arms.
• Ta-da! a line of gingerbread men for your tot to colour in.
14. Plant a tiny Christmas tree
•Go stick collecting. You want one long stick and lots of smaller twigs.
•Use twine to tie little twigs horizontally up the long stick — getting smaller as they go up — to create the shape of a Christmas tree.
•Plant your stick in a flowerpot.
• Now decorate your tree!
15. Make a keepsake Christmas sack
Get an old plain pillowcase. at the bottom of the ‘sack’ use a fabric pen to draw around your baby’s foot and write the date inside the footprint. If you’re feeling arty, you could add a drawing of a Christmas tree or bauble or angel. The Christmas sack may look pretty bare this year – but this is just the start. Every year, until your baby’s feet stop growing, add another footprint to the sack, and one day you’ll have a fully decorated Santa goody bag.
16. It's a wrap!
Help your youngster start to learn to wrap with a... wrap! Give him a tortilla and show him how to fold it over a slice of cucumber or carrot to create a little parcel.
17. Playdough baubles
Draw a christmas tree onto a big piece of card. Show your toddler how to place a colourful selection of playdough balls on each branch, squishing them with his thumb to form ‘hanging baubles’. take a photo of his artwork to print out and put up (it’s less messy than the artwork itself!). Supervise this activity to ensure that your youngster doesn’t try to eat the playdough.
18. Shake my tufty tail
This is a great game for babies who are crawling or getting ready to crawl. Securely tie a ‘tail’ – a short brown ribbon – to your bottom. Or you could loop some tights around you as a belt and leave a short length dangling behind you as the tail. Now, make like Rudolph and get down on all fours. show your baby your tail – kneel in front of him and shake it – or crawl slightly ahead of him and shake it. You’re encouraging him to reach out for the tail. this prompts pre-crawlers to start reaching and grasping, which improves balance, and encourages crawlers to practise their moving skills.
19. Little Acts of Kindness
It’s the season of goodwill, so challenge your little one to think of something kind to do for someone you know – then both go and do it!
21. Walk a solstice spiral
The 22 December marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, so try out an old tradition – walking the advent spiral. Chalk out a spiral path that curls around, getting smaller and smaller until you reach the centre. Walk the path with your youngster, first to the centre, and then back out, explaining that from today, the sun gets stronger and the days will get longer.
22. Make a sleigh
Get a shoebox, remove the lid and make a small hole at one end. Knot a piece of ribbon into the box – long enough for your tot to be able to tug the box along behind him and keep it flat. Put a teddy into the sleigh to play santa. Now give your toddler a little bag, filled with little toys wrapped in aluminium foil. Your child will be rRudolph and help teddy Santa deliver presents to his toys. Show him how to pull the sleigh around the room, stopping at different toys. guide him as he helps his toys to unwrap their gifts.
• Put the ribbon away after your toddler has finished playing.
23. Tell the tomten tale
Create calm at bedtime by telling him this winter tale that moves him from the living area into his bed. The tomten, a character from Scandinavian fairytales, is a house elf, who watches over the farm where he lives. The only people who ever see him are the animals. Put some bubble mix under your table and hide three cuddly toys around the room or on the stairs. Then sit under the table with your youngster and begin...
Once upon a time there was a farm. on the farm lived a man, a woman, their children and their animals. and the tomten. The tomten was a tiny elf who looked after the animals at night when everyone else was asleep. one winter’s night, snow fell thickly all over the farm. (Blow bubbles to show the snow falling.)
The tomten crept outside. (Both of you creep out from under the table.) he walked through the cold snow to the warm barn, where the rabbits live. (Walk to another part of the room, where you’ve hidden your youngster’s cuddly rabbit toy. give him the toy.)
The tomten cuddled the rabbit. he told it the snow was cold, but that cuddles would keep him warm. then the tomten left the barn...
Now he walked to the ducks’ barn. (Walk to where a bathtime duck is hidden. give your tot the duck.)
the tomten cuddled the duck. he told it the snow was cold, but that cuddles would keep him warm. then the tomten left the barn...
The tomten walked to the barn where the dog lived. (Walk to where you’ve hidden a cuddly toy dog. give your little one the dog.)
The tomten cuddled the dog. he told it that the snow was cold, but that cuddles would keep him warm. Then the tomten left the barn and crept back to his cosy nest... (get into bed.) He cuddled up in his blankets and he told himself that the snow was cold, but that his cuddly blankets would keep him warm. The tomten smiled. and went to sleep. The end.
24. The best present ever
Boost your baby’s motor skills with this Russian-dolls- meets-pass-the- parcel- Christmas present. Put your baby’s teddy in a cardboard box and wrap it in Christmas paper. Put the wrapped box inside another wrapped box, inside another wrapped box. He’ll love playing with the paper and the boxes – and he’ll be surprised (and delighted!) when he finally finds his teddy. All the fun of Christmas presents... without the expense!
25. What's in the box?
Happy Boxing day! Get a box. Prop the box on its side with the flaps at the front closed. Cut a hole in the middle of the bottom of the box (big enough to put your hand through), put on a hand puppet, and stick the puppet through the hole into the box. Now, say ‘What’s in the box?’ as your youngster opens the flaps at the front of the box and sees the puppet, put on a funny voice and start chatting. ‘Hello! did you enjoy Christmas day? did Santa come? What did he give you? Did you see the Baby Jesus? Did you see an angel? Did you eat a Brussels sprout?’ All the talking helps to build your tot’s language skills.
26. 'Twas Two nights after Christmas
This is a fun, easy game for toddlers. You say: ‘T’was two nights after Christmas and all through the house, Something was stirring, could it be... a mouse?’ And then your toddler pretends to be a squeaky, excited mouse. do the rhyme again, but this time end it with, ‘...a donkey?’ This can go on for as long as your toddler is having fun – and you can make the animals as inventive as you want: ‘...a three-legged dinosaur with a cold?
27. Say cheeeeese!
There is nothing cuter than a baby in a Christmas photo. Find a blank stretch of wall for your backdrop and take lots of snaps of your happy youngster...
• Wearing one of his presents
• Holding one of his presents
• Looking at one of his presents
• In a Christmas hat
• In a festive babygrow
• Holding a cracker
• Holding a Christmas stocking
• In front of a Christmas wall sticker
• Under some mistletoe
28. Get stars in his eyes
Get a packet of glow-in-the-dark star stickers and stick them to the underside of your table. Shine a torch on them to activate the glow. Cover the table in a blanket that hangs down on either side (so it becomes a dark den). Now creep under the table with your youngster to look at the ‘stars’.
29. Create a winter chandelier
Get a bangle and tie on sparkly strands of different coloured tinsel, about 15cm long. Hang it up, out of reach, and let your baby gaze up
at the entrancing, light-catching, tinsel ribbons. The movement and the sparkle will help to stimulate his vision.
30. Send a year end thank you
Go for a winter walk with your child. Find a quiet spot and tell your toddler that it’s the last day of the year – time to blow a thank you kiss up to the sky for all the happy times he’s had during the last 12 months. Mwah!
Make a sensory bottle
Get a small, clear plastic bottle and pierce tiny, needle-thin holes in it. Make sure the plastic is smooth so as not to hurt your baby’s delicate fingers. Now fill the bottle with whole christmas spices – cloves, cinnamon sticks, whole nutmegs, dried orange slices (don’t put in any ground spices, as these may fall out of the holes). screw on the lid and tape it down super-firmly – you don’t want your baby to be able to open this. Now give it to your baby to gaze at, rattle, and sniff!