What to do with your baby all day
A good friend of mine from back home recently emailed me a question that inevitably crosses all minds of new mamas: What am I supposed to do all day with my baby?
(My friend, D, is mama to a 6-month old girl.)
It’s true: babies are born as basically blind vegetables. We spend 9 months pondering the miracle of life, and it’s no less miraculous when your baby is finally in your arms, BUT—then what do you do?
I wrote this article for my friend. For you. For all of us—everyone who has ever wondered what to do all day with your baby.
The first thing you can do is grab yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy a little Me Time.
Start by observing—always!
For regular readers, it should come as no surprise that I would recommend to start by observing your baby.
You can learn a lot just by quietly watching her for periods of time throughout the day. And don’t do anything else while you are watching—this isn’t best done as part of a multitasking effort.
But what are you looking out for? Here are some things you might notice as you begin to observe your baby:
- Objects in her line of sight that attract her
- Any emotions she is experiencing
- The times of the day she seems to regularly get hungry/tired/etc.
- What position she seems to like best (in a bouncer, in your arms, on a blanket on the floor, etc.)
- How mobile she is
The advantage to observing your baby is that you can learn loads about her emotional states and natural preferences.
Bonus: You can also use your observations to form the basis of a great baby routine if you don’t already have one.
Mostly, it’s a quiet time for you to lay the foundation of your relationship. Observing allows you to better know your child so that you can learn to respond to her needs appropriately, rather than react (failing to meet her needs).
Stop doing. Start being.
I think a lot of us ask ourselves what to do with our babies all day because we feel like we are supposed to “do” something.
Why? Why do we always need to do something?
I believe it’s part of Anglophone culture, in particular American culture. The English language contains proportionately more verbs than any other language, indicating our desire to take action. We are the doers, not the be-ers.
In France, I have learned to take a step back and just be. The French place a greater importance on enjoying the simple pleasures in life.
Here’s a quick example: No French person would think to grab coffee at a drive-thru just for the car ride. Conversely, we Americans would be much less likely to actually sit down and sip our coffee at our leisure on the terrace of a café.
It’s part of the reason why I invite you to have a cup of coffee with me at the start of each post here on Mamas Café Society. Slow down. Stop doing. Start being.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could apply the same outlook to parenting? Let’s stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to DO, and let’s just BE with our babies.
By the same token, let’s stop putting pressure on our babies and kids to DO, and let them simply BE.
Lastly, if your instinct is always to do something, ask yourself why that is. It’s usually because we are aware of our baby’s development in milestones. We want them to measure up NOW.
News flash: Babies do not have to hit every so-called “milestone” ahead of schedule, or even on schedule. So let’s all just chill out about that.
How to “occupy” your baby
Now that you’ve observed your baby and had some time to simply be with each other, I’d like to give you some ideas of what to do with your baby all day.
But please do not get the impression that the observation and being are one-and-done. You could do just those 2 things all day and your baby would get enough stimulation.
Be careful not to overstimulate your baby by multiplying the sensory information she receives. Oftentimes when your baby is fussy, it might mean she is tired, which might have resulted from too much sensory stimuli.
Pick a couple of things from the below to do every day. You don’t have to shove everything in.
When you are ready, make a little daily routine of it. I have lots of ideas for your baby routines in this post.
1. Get outside.
This is my top tip. No matter your baby’s age, it’s always great to get outside!
Weather permitting, you can take your baby for a walk in her stroller or baby carrier. As a bonus, you’ll get some exercise!
Use this opportunity to walk your dog and/or chat with the neighbors. Visit a friend if you want! See other people, or just enjoy the nature around you.
Just getting out of your home can do wonders for your mental well-being. As new mamas, it’s easy to feel trapped at home. I know it takes about as long to get ready to leave as it does to actually be out!
But since you are here because you are wondering what to do with your baby all day, actually getting outside will kill some time!
If the weather precludes you from enjoying the outdoors, just a short car ride might help you to break up the day.
2. Listen to music.
We all love music, babies included.
You don’t even have to play music designed for babies. Feel free to play your favorite tunes.
And if you feel like dancing, go for it! Your baby can just watch you. Or you can gently move her arms or legs in time with the music (if she seems into it).
Listening to music and adding movement is known to boost your mood. So go for it!
There are so many ways you can read as part of your day with your baby.
Like with music, you don’t need to keep to “baby” books—although feel free to read these to your baby, too.
Sometimes I feel like my brain is going to explode from too much nya-nya baby stuff. Who’s with me?
That’s why I recommend reading something YOU enjoy to your baby. Your baby may be preverbal at this point—and that’s okay! Just the sound of your voice will be soothing enough.
You don’t always have to read out loud, either. I know I feel a bit silly when I do this. You can also curl up with your favorite book near your baby, but not actually actively paying attention to her.
I suggest this because I believe it can be a precursor to encouraging independent play someday. Your kids need to see you having Me Time. You’re in the same room with them, so you’re there if they REALLY need you, but you are also not paying attention to them. They know to give you space.
And, as a bonus, if you want your kids to one day enjoy their literacy by reading actual books (as opposed to scrolling a tablet), then model that behavior for them.
Looking for some French books to read with your baby? Check out my picks here.
4. Do normal stuff.
Cook. Clean. Shop online. Whatever you normally do in a day, keep at it.
You don’t need to completely sacrifice your normal routine for your baby’s sake. What I mean is, you don’t need to feel guilty about doing these things while your baby lies idly by.
It’s actually good for your baby to see you going about your normal day. If you always cooked or cleaned while your baby was asleep, how will she learn the time and skills it takes to be a responsible adult who does normal (albeit sometimes boring) adult things?
My friend D did a guest post last month all about how you can get your child involved in the housework, guilt-free, no special teaching techniques required.
As I alluded to above, the only Normal Thing I would refrain from doing around my baby is spending time in front of screens. This is a personal conviction, but I don’t want to give my daughter the impression that being an adult is about being in front of a screen all the time.
5. Document the journey.
My final tip actually comes from Alpha Mom in her article about what a stay-at-home mama does with her baby all day.
It can be hard sometimes as we wait for our baby to reach a certain milestone. Admit it: how many times have you said “Oh, I can’t wait for her to be out of diapers!” or “I can’t wait to be done with breastfeeding”?
While I completely commiserate (those thoughts crossed my mind many times), don’t forget to enjoy the ride.
It’s true: babies grow and change so fast. I mean, thank goodness, but still, there will come a time when you long to go back to when your child was younger, because things were always simpler back then.
One way to do this is by documenting your baby’s development. Take photos and videos. Make a scrapbook. Write down in your calendar or journal the special moments you observed with your baby:
- “She did X today!”
- “First smile.”
- “Tried my homemade puree—it’s a no from her!”
Even if it seems trivial, you will love looking back on it all one day.
What do you do with your baby all day?
My ideas are simple for a reason. By making a routine of the above 5 activities, you’ll have enough to fill each day.
I hope this article helped you to:
- Cut through the noise of everything we are “supposed” to do with our babies each day
- Feel less guilty about being rather than doing
- Get some ideas about completely normal, unfancy, FREE activities you can do each day with your baby
If you need more advice about babies, check out my other articles here on Mamas Café Society:
- Connect with your preverbal baby—It can be frustrating in the beginning when you can talk to your baby, but she can’t talk back. Here are some strategies to ease the tension.
- Support your baby’s motor skills—All about how to foster fine- and gross motor skill development easily and naturally.
- 4 Easy baby routines by age—Easy as 1, 2, 3! Get my sample routines that I used with C.
Now what are YOU doing to do with your baby all day?-Jessica
About the Author
Jessica is an American expat living the dream in Normandy. She is wife to a French hubby and mama to a Franco-American daughter, born in 2018, and one whippet. Passionate about all stages of writing, this Francophile created her blog in 2020 to help others navigate motherhood with a focus on conscious parenting and bilingual parenting. Bonne lecture !
Save this post, and come back to it later! Just pin the below image for easy reference.
Other helpful resources
- Pregnancy Series: She’s here! M’s birth story
- Pregnancy Series: Month 9
- Pregnancy Series: Month 8
- Pregnancy Series: Month 7
- Pregnancy Series: Month 6
- Pregnancy Series: Month 5
If you enjoyed this post, please spread the word!