Winter is perhaps the most unique season of the year, and with it comes some once-a-year opportunities for learning and interactive play with your baby or toddler. Whether you and your family get to enjoy the snow or just the cooler climate, here are some fun ways to make the most of the winter season.
Night lights. Every neighborhood lights up with holiday decorations. Take your baby on an evening walk or drive and enjoy the sights together:
- Teach colors. Holiday lights are perfect for helping baby learn colors. If possible, walk up to your neighbor’s lights and let baby see and touch each color up close.
- On and off. Teach this concept by saying these words as you observe blinking lights together.
- Make friends. Use this opportunity to meet other families on the block and learn who else has young kids the same age as yours.
Let it snow. You may have more snow than you can handle, or perhaps winter snow is a rare treat that only comes a few times during this season. Here are some creative ways to make snow more fun and interesting for baby:
- Shapes. You can draw baby’s favorite shapes in the snow. Ask baby to point them out as you say each one.
- Counting snowballs. Of course this is probably any child’s favorite shape to make out of snow. Make a line of snowballs and count them together. Pick up one at a time to throw, and recount what’s left.
- Creative design. Let baby make his own pictures in the snow. Make handprints, footprints, and the classic snow angle body prints.
- Big and little. Make different size snowballs or compare different size footprints in the snow and label them "big" or "little".
- Snowman. Use this favorite winter friend to help teach your toddler the various parts of her body. Label and point as you put each on the snowman, and then point to baby’s and your own body parts as well.
- Cold. Use the cold feel of the snow, as well as your cool hands, to teach baby the concept of cold.
Dressing warm. This is an obvious prelude to going out in the cold. Here are a few ways to make it a fun learning experience:
- Body parts. As you dress baby, label each body part as you cover it up (mittens on hands, hat on head, etc.). Do the same as you undress baby again later.
- On and off. Talk to baby as you dress and undress for the cold weather. "Put your jacket ON," "Take your boots OFF," etc.
Candles and fireplaces. Warm fires and candlelight are a pleasant part of the holidays. Here are some ways to keep them safe for baby:
- Teach baby about heat. Don’t just assume baby will never be curious about fire. Carefully allow baby to get close to the fireplace or some candles enough to feel the heat and realize the danger. Say words like "hot", "owie" and "no".
- Raise the heat. Keep all candles out of baby’s reach. Be sure baby can’t pull on any tablecloths, which can drop candles and spill hot wax.
- Keep the fireplace covered with a screen at all times.
Icicles. These are another fun way to teach baby the sensation of cold. They also make a convenient teether for baby to chew on to ease those aching gums. Make sure not to use any sharp ones of course.
Personal meaning of the holidays. Be sure to read books, tell stories, and explain decorations that teach baby what the holidays truly mean to you and your family.