What to do with a bored baby?

Hey nannies!
 I hope you're enjoying the blog being up and running as much as I am! I just have a couple questions having to do with utter boredom.

I'm a 24 year old nanny to an 11 month old boy, Jay. We are from Raleigh NC and we used to be a very active pair.

On Monday's we went to baby storytime, Tuesday's was gymboree (0-6mos), Wednesday's was baby storytime again, Thursdays were empty then Friday's we went to gymboree for family day (kids of all ages). Well they stopped storytime at the library for spring. Obviously Jay aged out of his gymboree class and the only one for his age are on Saturdays. We used to hang out with moms from the gymboree class but they have all found jobs. There is a really nice park with a train and carousel near by but since he can't walk we do the train, ride the mary-go-round and the swings. There's equipment that I let him pull up on if there are no children on it but it is meant for older ones. I let him crawl on the ground but then we've exhausted the park of all its resources to keep an 11 month old content. We go to the kids museum but it doesn't seem like much fun for him if his gymboree buddies aren't there. After a while of me showing him all the toys and trying to keep him happy he just wonders around the only 2 toddler areas then gets whiney. It's a real hassle to go since it's in the city with parking garages, not so convenient. I take him to the malls to play at the play places but they are so germy and seem like the kids there are sometimes as old as 10! He loves it so I take him but it makes me, and the other parents, nervous.

We do things at home, too. We fill up the baby pool when it gets warm enough and splash around. We also go for walks. I also take pureed baby food, dump it out on his highchair tray and let him ooze around and "paint". He is just so much better when we're out now that he's teething because it distracts him. I can even take him to lunch with my Mom and he's good as gold! I do have friends that have kids and I've tried to set up play dates but they're babies are either 5 months or 2 years old.
What do you come up with when you feel like you've worn out your options? Even today I have nothing planned and it is killing me because I know he's bored. We've read every book. Now I'm tearing google apart trying to find something for him to do. Right now he's pulled himself up on the screen door looking back at me like he wants to go somewhere. Guess we should just start driving and hope we see something! I do take him to Wal-Mart, Target, Petsmart, and Sam's Club just to get him out but those aren't places where he can crawl around and have fun.
 Please help! Thank you!


Siriusly_James said...

Are there no playgroups or anything for his age where you live?
I mean, I live in Denmark in a small town 6 miles away from a large town (and it would NOT be large through the eyes of an American), I don't have a car so we have to walk everywhere, and there are still something to do for the twins three days a week.
Go online and do a search, there's gotta be something.

Other than that, he sounds like an active boy, so why not set up your own gym at home? "What would he climb on and swing from?" Well... you.

The twins and I do gymnastics every day. I find new exercises in books or online, or we make them up ourselves.

We also sing a lot, every day, hand gestures and everything. I'm really impressed that they're starting to copy some of the gestures when we sing the songs.

That said, I don't really believe babies can be "bored". I mean, 11 months? The twins are 11 months in a week, and put them on the grass, and they will find a stick or a leaf and entertain themselves for twenty minutes.
Maybe you should just put him on the floor and see what he does.
Like, I would never have known that the best thingin the whole world was crawling under the dining room table if the twins hadn't shown me.

VA Nanny said...

Have you looked at There are TONS of classes on there. I know Raleigh has a bunch of zip codes, but I just randomly picked one and found music classes, stroller strides, swimming, baby gymnastics, and more! It sounds like you're slightly out of the city, but I'm sure there are more classes to do that you just don't know about, even if you have to drive a few more minutes to get there.

Also, is a great way to search for playgroups. In my own experience I've found that moms aren't usually super receptive to a nanny joining a SAHM playgroup, but there are actually nanny playgroups on there as well. Just searching quickly I found this one
I don't know if they're in your area, but they're open to nannies.

I do agree with the poster above who says that babies don't really get "bored". They do tend to be fussier at home though, and I know you probably get bored and feel as though you're not stimulating him enough. I've got an 8 month old and I've been in the same boat as you, trying to find activities to fill our day. You probably already do this, but I would try to make sure that he gets some independent play time. Set up a safe space for him with some toys and just let him play alone for awhile. It will definitely help prevent him from getting bored when he's older since he'll have the tools to play independently and be able to come up with activities on his own.

Nanny Meg said...

I agree with both of the previous posters that babies don't really get "bored". They are pretty good about finding any small thing to entertain themselves with. That being said, I completely understand the desire to get out of the house, especially if you are working long days.

Your charge is at a tough age because he isn't quite a toddler, but he also isn't quite a baby anymore. The youngest child in my care right now is sixteen months, and he didn't start walking until thirteen months, so we just recently came out of this stage. He has two older siblings, one who is in school all day, and the other who only goes half day. We live in a VERY small area (like, laughably extremely small), and still are able to find some things to do throughout the day.

Due to the kindergartner arriving back home everyday around 11:15, we aren't able to attend any of the library story times or baby times. However, we do visit the library later in the day, after lunch, at least once a week to read, check out books, and play puzzles. We also do a lot of outdoors activities, which is an option if you and the baby both enjoy that sort of thing. Before the sixteen-month-old was walking, I used to carry him on my back in the Ergo, and I still bring it along in case he gets tired.

Ann O'Neemus said...

It sounds like you have a case of the in-betweens. The baby's not such a baby anymore, he wants to move under his own steam but isn't walking yet.

A couple of quick suggestions;

If your little guy enjoys water and it's not warm enough outside, put a few inches of water in the tub and let him splash away.

You can let him use finger paints instead of food for his paintings, then he will have something to show mommy and daddy when they get home, and maybe tape up on the fridge.

Outings don't all need a big 'destination'. Even a short walk near the home can be enjoyable. Talk about everything you see and hear. Smell the flowers, spot planes, name the colors of cars etc, look for doggies and birds. You might run into a neighbor and talk for a few minutes. It might not sound very exciting to you but it can be interesting to a little one.

Try putting an ad on craigslist to find other nannies and moms of like-aged children in your area.

Bear in mind that this stage won't last too long. Soon your charge will be walking and ready for a whole bunch of new activities.

Op said...

I'll definitely look up activity tree and meetup. Thanks! luckily most moms are really welcoming to me. they say I know more about babies and kids than they do haha I highly doubt that's true but it's nice to hear I suppose.

I am not sure I feel comfortable letting him finger paint with paints. I use jello and baby food cause he eats it. He isn't too happy with bath time right now so I'm not sure he'll like playing in it. he loves the pool because it's outside and that makes it feel so different. It's still in the 60s here tho. His mom and I can't wait until Jay can walk!

He also isn't a big grass or sand fan. Grass makes him itch and sand gets everywhere. he is or can be awesome at independent play. he'll crawl all over and I sit right there playing with one toy and he's over there playing with his xylophone! So he is at least good at playing when sleeplessness or teething don't get in the way. Books don't hold his interest now that he can get down and play so that's been kinda sad since we loved books when he was a baby-baby.

great advice tho! thanks!

novananny81 said...

I agree with the OP that actual paint is not appropriate for a child that young; I've seen toddlers close to age two trying to eat crayons and whatnot, so under a year, it's just not a good idea. The baby food idea is brilliant - I've heard of people who let their older toddlers paint with pudding.

I also agree with those who say it's 100% OKAY to let him just crawl around with a bunch of toys in his playroom or wherever, and do his own thing. I really don't understand the whole mindset parents have these days of it being necessary to entertain and stimulate a child 100% of the time. This it not how it will be as they grow up, and frankly, they need to develop the skills to entertain themselves. I've seen it a million times, and children who are never allowed to just do their own thing end up clingy, whiny and unable to come up with things to do on their own. You will not hurt his brain or ruin his chances of getting into an Ivy League (no matter what his parents may think) if he's allowed some unstructured, independent play time. It's actually GOOD for him to do this, developmentally speaking, on many levels.

Ann O'Neemus said...

Obviously a baby needs to be closely supervised when playing with paints, you wouldn't want him to eat handfuls of the stuff, but kid's paint is non-toxic.

MissMannah said...

I didn't read the PPs, so I might be repeating someone, but honestly I think you're bored instead of the baby. Children this age can get easily overstimulated and can have sleeping problems. You really don't need to take him somewhere every day, when I had toddlers we would go out once a week, sometimes to the library and sometimes to the playground. Usually they are too young to play with the equipment, but that's ok. They're perfectly happy toddling around and watching bigger kids. My advice is to slow down and observe your charge and see what he likes to do on his own, rather than you constantly trying to keep him entertained.

nenanny said...

Paint is ok for kids that age.
Done it is a nanny and infant/toddler teacher in Montessori school.

Obviously it's not an independent activity you have to supervise.

You can even make an edible version.

I will also say I didn't think babies could get bored until I met my last charge who did indeed get bored. He grew into a toddler and young school ager that bored easily. That's just in the make up of some, so I won't assume that because he is 11 months old that he can't possibly be bored.

It's not always about teaching independence some temperaments ( and babies do have temperaments) need to be on the go need to be social.

Is it possible for you to go to the library and just read to him in the children's room.

Get a crawl tunnel they are inexpensive and my bored baby loved to crawl in and out and thought it was hilarious when I crawled through.

Good luck!

Keep it simple said...

Simple things to do with young children, water play (sink & plastic measuring cups), dance party & freeze dance, bean bags and scarves, obstacle coarse and follow the leader, hide & seek, go for a nature walk and bring home some nature and make a collage, depending on the child you can introduce playdogh, crayons, and paints. Toddlers will surprise you, oh garage sale stickers (colorful circles) and dot (bingo) paints are a favorite of mine at that age. Keep it simple and switch things up from time to time. Also it's such a sensory time just letting them eat slow and made a mess is usually a huge delight for them.

Wendy in Colorado said...

Look up "baby sensory basket" on Google. You'll find a bunch of fun stuff to do with the tiny ones. Or "tiny tot activities." I just tried those two and found quite a few things. One thing I like to do with toddlers (or not-quite-toddlers) is and indoor sandbox. Fill a plastic bin halfway with pasta shapes or rice or something pourable but not too messy. Get a few spoons, measuring cups, and funnels out of the kitchen, set the whole shebang on a blanket on the kitchen floor and let them play. (Gotta supervise them, of course, so they don't eat the pasta.) Good luck!