Families spend a lot of time on the move—getting to and from child care, running errands, and trying to fit in a little fun in between.
It’s easy to think of the minutes spent stuck in traffic or on a slow-moving bus or subway train as wasted time. But this is often the perfect time to connect with our little ones. Here are six ideas for connecting on the move:
1. Shake it. Pack a rattle or a maraca in the car seat or stroller. Even if your little one is still facing backward in the car seat, when you start singing, she’ll learn it’s time to shake, shake, shake. For toddlers, make it easy for them to join by choosing songs that have lots of repetition.
2. Photo fun. Babies and toddlers love looking at pictures of themselves and people they know. Create an album on your phone with pics of all your child’s faves—you, siblings, grandparents, cousins, friends, and more. Cuddle up during your bus or train ride and talk about each person, who they are, and how much they love your child.
3. Rhyme time. Share rhymes with your little one. Babies will enjoy the sound of your voice and the rhythm of the language. Toddlers love the silliness of rhymes and if you pause at the end of a line, will quickly learn which word fills in the blank. Try classic rhymes like Hickory Dickory Dock, or rhyming songs like the 60s classic The Name Game by Shirley Ellis (“Anna Anna bo banna, Banana-fana fo-fanna, Fee-fi-mo-manna, Anna!”) Fun? Yes! Plus playing rhyming games helps your child build important early literacy skills they’ll use later in school.
4. Tell a story. For toddlers who are talking (or beginning to), try stories that give them ways to participate like, “Once up on a time, a little boy went to the beach. He brought a picnic lunch. What do you think he ate for lunch?” Use your child’s suggestions as you continue to build the story. Activities like these help your child learn—and use—new words. For babies, just the sound of your voice will be soothing. Talk about what you are seeing out the window or what you did that day. Your baby is learning words even before he can talk!
5. Get arty. Stuck on a bus or train? Pull out some child-safe crayons (chunky ones for toddlers work great) and some scrap paper. Use a board book as a “table” and draw with your child. Talk about the colors, shapes, and lines (long/short, straight/curvy, etc.) that your child is creating. Drawing together is a great way to connect—and using crayons gets children ready to write later on!
6. Take in the scenery. Help your child notice what’s interesting about her community. Talk about landmarks that you pass each day—the diner, the house with the big pine tree, the subway station. Point out when you’re close to your destination: “We just passed the big blue mailbox. That means we’re almost home!” You can even do this with babies…while they won’t understand you right now, they will in just a few months.