People say that being a parent is one of the most expensive things you can do. However, it is only as expensive as you choose to make it. There are plenty of cheap, creative ways to keep your children amused without parting with your hard earned money. Here I share my top 10 thrifty ways to entertain your baby for free:
1. Join your local library
When your baby is born your health visitor or your registrar will give you a Bookstart Pack. This includes a book bag, your baby’s library card, some board books and information about how to engage your baby when reading to them.
Your local library should also hold baby sessions such as Baby Bounce and Rhyme and Story time which are a fun and free way to pass the time as well as getting you out of the house and talking to other parents. Recent research also suggests that singing nursery rhymes can alleviate the signs and symptoms of post-natal depression.
The library itself is also a great way to while away the hours – it’s quiet, calm and all libraries have dedicated children’s sections ready and waiting for you to explore. Each child can take out up to 20 books at any one time for free so get reading! The benefits are endless.
2. Free community baby groups
Finding out what is available for free in your local community is a great way to keep your baby entertained at a low cost.
Baby groups, play groups and story time sessions are all examples of community based sessions available for free in your local area.
Ask friends, speak to your health visitor, look at notice boards and search online to see what is available in your area for free.
3. Try taster sessions
Having a baby means that you are a prospective customer for many baby groups.
Baby massage, baby sensory baby swimming and baby music are all examples of classes which can be expensive but, if there is something you like the sound of, they may be able to offer you a free taster session to see if you and your baby like it.
There should be no obligation and this is a good way to see if a class is suitable for you before you commit to paying for a full term of lessons.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
4. Shop your baby’s toys
In the early newborn days it is difficult to remember the items you purchased for your baby and, in particular, the toys. The first two weeks can pass in a blur and you may not remember what presents your baby has been given.
So, take the time to go shopping in your baby’s cupboard! I do this every month with Thrifty Bubba’s toys – it means she has a constant supply of new items to play with and I feel pleased that she has played with everything at least once.
Of course, if there are any items that you don’t need then you can sell them. Another idea is to hold a toy swap with friends or play at each other’s houses with the different toys you each own.
5. Go outdoors
If you are lucky enough to have access to a garden then this is a great place to start! Children love exploring so take them out in to the garden and talk to them about the flowers and the wildlife.
Similarly, if you live within walking distance of a park then this can be a fantastic, free way to entertain your child. Most local parks offer swings and slides with some even having gym equipment installed!
Walking is a really effective way to keep fit whilst getting your fill of Vitamin D and fresh air. I always feel good when I’ve been outdoors and being outside can help babies to sleep better too!
6. Enter competitions
I’ve always enjoyed entering competitions. My Mum won lots of competitions when I was a child so, since having a baby, I’ve been entering a few each week (new blog post coming soon).
Thrifty Bubba and I have enjoyed a course of swimming lessons and a course of baby sensory classes from winning competitions meaning we have had fun days out free of charge.
Try your luck – you’ve got to be in it to win it!
7. Keep it simple
You don’t need to spend a lot to keep your baby happy.
As long as your baby’s needs are met in terms of feeding, sleeping, changing and lots and lots of loving then simple ideas using items from around your home can be really effective.
Upturned pots, pans and a wooden spoon can become a brilliant drum set and, for fine motor skills, painting penned pasta shapes and then threading them on to string once they are dry can keep children entertained for hours!
8. Sensory play session
Sensory play classes can be expensive but with a little imagination you can hold your own at home.
Grab a container (a clean washing up bowl, an ice cream tub or a tupperware pot will do) and add items with different textures for your baby to explore.
A hair curler, a silicone pastry brush, a mirror, a torch, a bath toy, a musical instrument and a first aid foil blanket can make for a sensory exploration within the comfort of your own home!
9. Parent play date
When becoming a parent those who truly understand the highs and lows are others who are parents themselves.
Friends with families of their own can offer great solidarity so, if you are looking to save money yet have fun at the same time, suggest a parent play date where you can catch up and the children can play.
Go to someone’s house, play with toys that are already there and each bring something for lunch. Alternatively, meet somewhere where there is a free soft play area but take your own lunch, order tap water and add your own squash to it instead.
10. Make your own massage
Who doesn’t love a spa treatment? I loved doing baby massage classes with Thrifty Bubba but I decided to only pay for one very short term. Since then, using the techniques handout I was given, I regularly give her massages at home.
If you are unsure of the strokes to use when massaging your baby then Johnsons website has a brilliant massage section with helpful videos which is a good starting point.
Massage works particularly well after bath time as a wind down activity. Make sure the room you are massaging in is warm and that you have a towel to place under your baby. I use pure coconut oil to massage with because it is a natural moisturiser and doesn’t contain any nasty chemicals.
YouTube is fantastic for free music – we particularly like music box versions of classic songs to create a calming, soothing atmosphere. I find I always sleep well after having a massage and Thrifty Bubba does too!
Love, Thrifty Mumma X
If you enjoyed this blog post then you may find this one useful too: How to have a family and save money
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