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How to entertain 4 month old all day

(26 Posts)
Prometheus Wed 01-Dec-10 11:10:45

I'm currently on maternity leave looking after 4 month old DS on my own. I live in a different country to my family and all of my friends are at work during the day. I am finding it increasingly difficult to entertain DS all day.

He doesn't nap at all during the day and doesn't really like being put down in his chair so I can eat lunch, wee etc. - he tends to scream and tantrum. We do sing songs, kisses and cuddles on the big bed, play with rattle and I put him in his cot with his mobile. However all of these things usually only entertain him for 10-20 minutes maximum before he starts crying. If I try to sit and cuddle on the sofa he cries...he is happiest when being walked round the flat all day or looking out of the window (I have to stand there and hold him).

Can anyone suggest any activities to help me entertain him please? I'm finding it so difficult to fill 10 hours each day sad

Thank you!

pumkinsmummy Wed 01-Dec-10 11:13:23

Find your local playgroups and start attending those. Also, look for like minded groups on here and Netmums - you might find new people that way. Another place to try is your local NCT branch as they do coffee morning etc

Prometheus Wed 01-Dec-10 11:15:17

Hi - I've tried that. The women at my equivalent of NCT class barely want to meet up and the affiliated playgroup (and all MN-ers on the living abroad thread in this country) are miles away and I don't drive sad

Simic Wed 01-Dec-10 11:21:18

Oh, I remember this stage! I walked and walked the floors, saw every single thing that happened on the street outside and found I remembered songs I hadn't sang since I was at primary school! I'd played all the finger games at least 300 times and it was still only 8.30am!
I know it's hard when you're living abroad (I am and was at the time) but the best rescue I found was joining groups with other parents - keeping contact with friends from post natal classes, going to parent-toddler groups etc..

I don't know how cold it is where you are, but I found the sling with my big thick coat over the top and getting out of the house walking round was helpful.
Otherwise, all those things which you do for yourself rather than for the child - like sewing bells onto each finger of a glove, putting the glove on and using it to do finger games or just make funny noises (for 30 seconds!).
I know it's no consolation, but, the second time round it's easier because you've got the older child as the babies very favourite entertainer! - so you get let off the hook a bit and get to just watch!
I even ended up with bouncy chair in front of the washing machine going round and round - I was really desperate!

PassionKissUnderTheMistletoe Wed 01-Dec-10 11:22:18

DD was exactly the same at that age. I found 4 months really really hard.

I take comfort in the thought that she's probably clever so needs a lot of interaction and gets bored easily.

I used to push her in the pram for hours which would send her to sleep eventually.

Getting out of the house always made me feel better.

I found baby groups a life saver - have you checked there is nothing else locally you can go to? Even toddler groups will have babies there (younger siblings) and usually have a baby corner.

MoonUnitAlpha Wed 01-Dec-10 11:24:07

My 4 month old has a 10 minute attention span too!

I basically transfer him from bouncy chair to play gym to blanket on the floor. Sit him on my lap and bounce him/sing to him. He's really into putting things in his mouth at the moment, so I try to find new, interesting things to hand to him so he can try to get them into his mouth.

Other than that I:
Put him in the pram and walk round the park/shopping centre depending on the weather. Take him out in the sling to the shops. Take him swimming (or take a bath with him). Go to a baby cinema showing. Give him a massage. Let him kick about on his changing mat naked. Meet friends for coffee/lunch.

ChippingIn Wed 01-Dec-10 11:31:28

I feel for you

When you say 'looking after him on my own' does this mean you are a solo parent or that your DH/P is working or is posted away?

Could you move?

Do you have the room (& inclination) to get an Au Pair - you could do it for free board & only a few hours a week so that it's a bit of a relief for you, but not taking advantage of the AP.

Do you have a front loader washing machine? If so, do as Simic said and put him in front of that.

Have you any money to buy anything? Are you somewhere you can buy things (even online?). If you are/can then ...

- Mat/Gym type thing
- Door hanging bouncer
- Hanging/bouncing toys
- Bath seat where they are upright so can play in the bath with bubbles etc
- Childrens music CD

and if you are really desperate TV. They say it's not good for them, but plenty of babies watch it and if it saves your sanity then..... hey ho!

I presume you have a sling? What's he like if you just get on with things and talk to him while you do it - but don't actively 'entertain' him?

It is a hard age - but it wont last too much longer, he'll soon be crawling around and into everything - truely grin

Simic Wed 01-Dec-10 11:34:56

This has got me remembering now:
all kinds of different feeling sensations - so I got some soft brushes and some harder brushes and let them touch them or brushed them against their hand or just touched them with the harder brushes. Soft fabrics, rougher fabrics and silky scarves or whatever, to feel on their hands or tummy or whatever.
An idea I got from a baby group we went to was putting loads of balloons into an old duvet cover, tying up the end to make a balloon cushion, laying baby on it and gently rocking it - some babies at our group didn't like it but mine loved it and we did it at home. Then after baby had had a go, big sister had a turn throwing herself onto it and generally romping with it!

newmum001 Wed 01-Dec-10 15:00:05

My DD is nearly 3 months and very alert and also isn't great at sleeping during the day (she's alseep now and im terrified to move incase the leather couch creaks and i wake her, seriously) grin

She also has a very short attention span however we can pass an hour with naked play matt time, infact she can be happy doing anything with nothing on the little exhibisionist! she just loved being naked so i tend to spend a very long time changing nappies etc. It is SO hard trying to come up with things to do with her and this snow is driving me insane as i usually try to get out for a couple of hours every day to get her to sleep!

RoisM Wed 01-Dec-10 16:38:09

I'm having the same kind of trouble here. I'm generally on my own with my DD, as we only see her daddy at the weekend. I spend most of my time transferring her from her bouncy seat to her gym mat to under the cot mobile to having a laugh with her on my knee. She never sleeps for very long either and starts to get very worked up once she is bored of playing with one thing.

I'd like to try the naked changing mat idea but at he moment our house is feeling a bit chilly. Speaking of which, I'm beginning to get cabin fever with all this snow. I usually like to get out of the house a couple of times a week with DD but it's been impossible this week. Any sign of it clearing up anytime soon?

Anyway, I bought her another activity/play station for Christmas which she can stand up in so we'll see how long that keeps her attention for. The days really fly in trying to keep baby occupied, don't they? I never get anything done.

Dexterrocks Wed 01-Dec-10 19:13:50

I remember this stage well.
Do you have a health visitor or similar? You could ask them if there are other new mums in the area and if there is somewhere they all meet. They might be able to put you in touch with someone. Sometimes it just needs one other mum and sometimes from one mum you meets lots of others.
Look for posters in doctor's waiting rooms too - they often advertise Mother and Toddler groups, Baby song groups, etc.
Go to as many of these as you can and try to chat to as many people as you can.
When you try to do your housework etc talk to baby while you are doing it. It doesn't matter what you say, you can say you are loading the washing machine and why you are doing it and so on. The sound of your voice and watching you might be enough to "entertain" if you can carry them from room to room while you work.
Mine liked to:
Have a ball rolled to them (they eventually roll them back)
Have songs sung to them
Have their feet gently tickled, moved around
Have a bath
Go for long long walks in their prams/pushchairs
Watch other kids play (when the snow goes you could go and sit in a park - other mums will chat to you)
Be read to - it can be anything at this stage - your latest gossip mag will be enthralling if you read it in a sing songy voice
Have music on
Dance in my arms
Touch everything safe to touch
Chew everything safe to chew
Look out of the window
Play in a bouncy seat
Lie on a play mat with stuff above them
Lie on their tummys for a wee while (supervised)
Go shopping - the supermarket is fascinating for them if they are in a seat that sits upright a bit (go as often as you can even if you only need one thing!)
Watch big towers being built with soft blocks and then "help" to knock them down.
Lie on the floor beside me for a bit

It can get a bit tedious when you are just desperate for five seconds peace but you soon adopt a constant sing songy monologue and don't even notice you are doing it.

The stage also passes. Once they can sit up they can do more to entertain themselves, and when they crawl they do even more and so on.

thisisyesterday Wed 01-Dec-10 19:17:51

get a sling and go for some nice long walks

BertieBotts Wed 01-Dec-10 19:18:03

He's at that age where they want to look at everything but they want you to show them!

Agree a sling is an excellent idea (but only if you have more snow than ice, I'd say). They love watching any kind of human interaction at this age and the sling gets them up to your level so they can watch everything. Try to get out as much as you can. Have you got a children's centre locally or any community groups etc? There may be some things you can get involved in while he's so little and as he gets bigger he might enjoy the play groups they often run.

Simic Thu 02-Dec-10 10:43:16

"Baking bread" is another one which you can do with or without clothes on (without clothes under the baby changing table heater is best).
Lie the baby down, then you
Knead the bread (sort of massage them gently all over)
Shape the bread (stroke them from top of head to feet as if you're showing the shape of the "loaf" with the palms of your hands)
Stick some currants in (gently poke them all over - gets some laughs)
Brush the bread with egg to make it shiny (use your fingers to "brush" them all over)
Then put it in the warm oven (cuddle them)
Then take the bread out of the oven and blow it cool (blow them gently all over - best under the heater!)
then gobble it up!

For older children, making a pizza on their backs goes down a treat - roll out the dough, spread it with tomato sauce then see what toppings they want (poking for olives, drawing round circles on their back with finger tips for pineapple rings etc).

Prometheus Thu 02-Dec-10 10:47:02

Thanks for all the advice! I have found a baby massage class that I've now signed up for.

Will try the games mentioned above....I have a feeling they will only work for 10 minutes maximum before he starts crying but they are all worth a try! He is in his cot listening to his mobile now....he has had 4 minutes and is now starting to cry hmm

Its going to be another loooong day!

Simic Thu 02-Dec-10 10:50:25

That's great news! As you say, each game only buys you a few minutes - but sometimes having something new gives you a bit of relief from the ones you've played for weeks!

Rhian82 Thu 02-Dec-10 10:54:00

Sing sing sing. I think I sang non-stop until DS finally learned to crawl (at 11.5 months). Get some CDs of nursery rhymes to remind yourself of the words (also good for playing during nappy changes).

Also read some picture books and go for lots of walks. Ooh, and do you have any cinemas that do parent-baby screenings? Can kill a couple of hours.

TheArmadillo Thu 02-Dec-10 10:56:52

we just got dd (17 weeks) one of these /B000YZAG7I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1291287300&sr=8 -1 which helps as she can sit upright and we pile her toys on it.

it is difficult though

newmum001 Thu 02-Dec-10 16:54:52

Ooooh Armadillo i love the look of that!! Dp's mum is getting us one of those doughnut ring things for dd for christmas that has dangly bits etc on it. I've probaby not described that very well at all and if i knew how to do a link i would. But hoping that it will do the trick. My house now officially looks like a shit heap cause of all the gadgets we've got for DD. How the hell can someone so small need so much stuff??

newmum001 Thu 02-Dec-10 16:56:15

Just thought of somethin else, DD has a small snow globe thing and she's amazed by it. It's a bit boring shaking a snow globe for 20 minutes to keep it snowy inside but she really does like it.

marzipananimal Thu 02-Dec-10 21:08:04

If you can manage to get him to have naps you'll probably find he's much calmer, happier and easier to entertain. It makes a massive difference to my 3 month old. Easier said than done I know! Maybe post in the sleep topic for advice?

MrsBonkers Fri 03-Dec-10 00:53:43

I second the supermarket thing. I go to different ones and look at their clothing sections so DD can feel the different fabrics.
Also found garden centres good. DD likes the different coloured plants and if they have an aquatic section she will look at the fish tanks for ages.
She likes to look at sparkly Xmas decorations so I've been going to shops that sell these. Sure people are starting to look at me like a shoplifter as I spend ages without actually buying anything!
Going to 'watch' this thread for more ideas....

gingermama Fri 03-Dec-10 01:57:49

My DS is now 7 months but I was in a very similar situation to you 3 months ago. 3-4 months was a tricky patch definately - DS was suddenly awake so much more of the time(no more 3 hour sleep stretches in the day when I could read the paper and check emails) and he seemed to get bored and frustrated so quickly.

I had no mum network either and the circuit of actvities in the house (bouncer, baby-books (those black and white image ones were good for a few mins), songs, bouncing, look out window, playmat, back to bouncer...) seemed to only take up about an hour of the day. I remember googling 'how do i entertain my 4month old'.

All the other posters suggestions are brilliant - I definately found breaking up the in-the-house-activities with a walk in the pram in the morning and one in the sling in the afternoon really useful. And if your DC sleeps in the pram then you could head to a cafe for a coffee while he naps, for a bit of rejuvenating adult time. I got used to having coffee alone with lo and got to quite like it.

One extra game my lo loved at 4mnths and still does is if I hold a big sheet/muslin up over him (as if you are shaking out a sheet to fold) and then letting it float down to cover him then pulling it up and repeating. DS started to anticipate the fabric coming and loved loved loved it. It kills a few minsss.

My only other tip is of an audiovisual nature... I took a dvd out of the library called 'brilliant baby learns sounds' and at 4 months DS was OBSESSED WITH IT. There is a lot of footage of smiling children which he loved (even better if you can find the real thing but that might not be possible) I limited us to one screening a day - when I had to start dinner or when nothing else would work.

Hope some of this is useful! You are definately not alone in this quandry.
Sounds like you are doing a very good job with your lo. Lordy sorry for the looonnnggg post I am new to this MN caper

Woodlands Fri 03-Dec-10 18:17:43

somegreat ideas here, i also have a 4 month old baby and it is hard, especially now he is less content to sit on my lap while i drink tea with friends! i am lucky enough to have a great network of friends with babies the same age which makes all the difference - if i send an email round in the morning there's always someone who's up for meeting for coffee and cake or a walk in the park. definitely worth trying to build a network if you can.

i've found the door bouncer brilliant, hung in the kitchen doorway, so that i can do some cooking/washing up. other than that i have to sing to him pretty constantly. not sure what i'll do in a few weeks when i can't sing christmas carols any more!

kaiki Fri 03-Dec-10 20:35:49

ooooh, i remember this stage very well - it sounds as though you, i and a lot of the other posters on this thread have a very 'alert' baby needing lots of standing, walking, pointing out things etc etc. my dd was never happy lying or sitting, she had to be up and in my arms.
like woodlands, i've heard brilliant things about the door bouncer, wish i'd tried one with dd, they're hilarious in action.
when dd was 4 months we had to spend 6 weeks staying at my fil's place and so were quite limited in how much 'baby stuff' we could take - in that respect i remember putting her in her car seat and showing her round the kitchen, giving her anything that was safe to handle (wooden spoons, sieves, lemons etc), shaking jars of lentils or pasta, saucepan drums, whatever was available. we also played 'what's that smell?' where i would pass things under her nose for her to have a sniff of (she was seated upright again) - so cinammon sticks, herbs, lavender, citrus, chocolate etc etc.
finally i found finger puppets a godsend. you can buy them fairly cheap but if you're stuck faces drawn on hands or fingers will do - i remember dd being endlessly amused by a face drawn on dp's foot which he would waggle towards her.
have you tried swimming ? i found dd liked having a splash in the local baby pool if
only for fifteen minutes or so.
good luck! it's a stage i remember if not fondly than very well. sounds like you're doing an aces job.

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