Covid-Friendly Activities With Baby | Vancouver Winter 2021
Some Covid-friendly activity ideas to fill your wake windows with your little ones this fall and winter 2020/2021!
(Please note, I will be continually updating this list as new ideas come up and rules change, so please check back)
I’m a first-time mom with an almost 10-month-old baby and am absolutely terrified of lockdown during these shorter, colder days. Pretty stressed about my baby’s lack of in-person social interaction and you know what? I’m also sad that this wasn’t the maternity leave I’d imagined.
I know a lot of parents out there are feeling the same way, so I reached out to my amazing community on Instagram asking for some activity ideas to fill those wake windows and you really delivered! I wanted to share these suggestions because it takes a village and not having full access to that village has been HARD. We’re in this together (but apart) and I hope this list is helpful in some way!
Now, let’s all keep in mind that everyone has different comfort levels during this pandemic. I know we’re all keeping a close eye on case numbers and of course trying to keep our families safe. Most of the below suggestions are online, but a few are in-person, following health orders.
Though I say it’s Vancouver-based, with some of these offerings being online, you can really be anywhere in the world. In terms of age-range, I’d say most of these are for newborns (probably 3m+) to about 2 years.
Are all of these online classes creating way more screentime than I ever imagined for my baby? Absolutely. 2020 has thrown everything off though, so if this is how we learn, then this will be how we learn!
If you have anything to add to this list, please let me know in the comments below.
It’s so sweet how much little ones love music. Often songs are the ONLY way to calm Lucy and it has been that way from the beginning. She doesn’t even mind Adam’s off-tune singing LOL.
I’m trying not to purchase from Amazon too much, but I ordered this little musical set for Lucy and she is obsessed! I keep half of it out and will add the other items slowly. Again, if you can find these locally, it’s the better option. I just left the musical instrument purchase until the last minute and we needed it for our classes. Alternatively, if money is tight or you’re wanting to repurpose things around the home, you can also make some instruments yourself. We have a few containers filled with rice that are great little shakers, and two wooden spoons are very similar to rhythm sticks. There are tons of other ideas online, I’m sure.
When I asked the audience on Instagram for ideas, there were a ton of music class mentions. These are some as suggested by you and a few that we’ve joined!
I signed us up for a Saturday morning Jumpstart Music and Movement Zoom class in the fall. They came highly recommended by my friend who I taught dance with for many years, so I very much trust her suggestion. Cheri was great, I could tell she had a musical background, works well with little ones and her rhythm work was awesome. From her classes, Lucy will actually repeat shaker, drum, and stick rhythms back to us, it’s simply amazing. Cheri of Jumpstart will be releasing her 2021 virtual class schedule soon, so keep an eye on her Facebook page!
VSO Mini Music Makers
The VSO School of Music offers online and in-person class options for little ones. They were doing a covered outdoor music class at Trout Lake, which Lu and I were attending with our Mom Group. Sadly, when the latest provincial restrictions came into effect, the remainder of our sessions were cancelled. Hopefully, things can resume in the new year, it was great doing a music class in-person but outside.
One of you mentioned Music Together and it looks like they’re also doing online classes! I haven’t attended their classes myself but have bookmarked to possibly try in the future.
Chorus and Clouds
Of course, Chorus and Clouds came up as well! Since it took me so long to write this post (ahh, sorry parenting and working during a pandemic is mission impossible), we’ve juuuuust missed their winter 2021 class registration. My friend Leslie and her daughter attended the in-person small and distanced fall baby music class and she said it was great. Sorry again for not getting this out in time to sign up for the winter classes, but follow @chorusandclouds on Instagram so that you don’t miss the next one!
Check The Library
A lot of libraries are doing virtual programs right now, so it’s definitely worth it to look into the public library in your area. The VPL has a Zoom Babytime with songs and stories for your baby, which we enjoy on Fridays. We also do a little Mom share time so it’s a nice way to feel connected to other local Mamas. We’re wrapping up the Vancouver Public Library Nov/Dec sessions and I’m sure they’ll soon be doing sign ups for the Jan/Feb groups!
The school districts here have a program called Strong Start, which is designed for early learning development at no cost to families. Though usually drop-in, they’ve opened their in-person classes again but do require you to pre-register and follow their Covid-19 safety protocols. They do have virtual experiences as well.
Postpartum Drop-in Group
The South Community Birth Program (where we went for our pre and postnatal midwife care) offers weekly drop-in postpartum classes that are so great for new Mamas! They have gone virtual, hosted on Zoom, and I believe now open to the public (you could always check with them). A variety of topics are covered and I really enjoyed the connection and learning some new things, especially in those wild early days with a newborn.
Community Centre Parent and Tot Gym
Some community centres have opened up their gyms again for Parent and Tot playtime. I’ve seen varying information about these and I’ve personally haven’t been yet, but if it’s not free, looks like it is under $5. Your local community centre likely has other activities as well, best to check in with them and see if any programs are running for your little one!
LEARN NEW SKILLS
BABY SIGN LANGUAGE
I wasn’t sure what to expect from a baby ASL class, but Lee Ann of @signingbabies is an absolute delight. We just completed her 6-class Beginner Baby Sign Language Virtual Course and loved it. We opted for her Facebook course because then we weren’t committed to a set time. It has been so useful having access to the videos any time we want, we’ve definitely gone back and re-watched a few already. Lee Ann teaches at a great pace, repeats songs so they’re easier to memorize, and includes the names of class attendees so that the little bbs feel included. Lucy lights up every time Lee Ann is on the screen, she simply adores her. We’ve already registered for the next level in the new year, you can check out her virtual class options here.
A TON of parents on Instagram suggested swimming lessons. The pools seem to have strict protocols that follow the latest health orders and some of the lessons are as small as 2 or 3 people. The two most popular suggestions were definitely Pedal Heads and Aquaventures Swim, so if you’re lucky enough to snag a spot, let me know how it is! Lucy loved our outdoor pool adventures in the summer, so I’d be keen to try lessons at some point. Public pools are still open, so that is always an option for some unstructured time in the water as well!
Mandarin And Cantonese Classes
My friend just sent me these awesome Rhythm ‘N’ Rhyme Musical Adventures classes! They offer baby sing-a-long, storytime, and song and conversation classes in both Mandarin and Cantonese for ages 0-8 years. Looks like there are paid classes as well as some free drop-in. They are offering virtual classes over Zoom that came recommended to my friend. I will definitely look into some of their intro classes for us, would love for Lucy to be in touch with her heritage and able to learn some Cantonese. Maybe I could learn a thing or two along the way as well!
Collage Collage has some very affordable and fun online art classes for the toddler crowd! I simply love how each class is inspired by a book, I might actually gift a few of these classes to my friends this holiday season. Everyone needs activity ideas during lockdown!
We’ve also signed up for a small and distanced in-person Chorus and Clouds art class for January. They call it the Infant/Toddler Art Club and I cannot WAIT to see what kind of “art” my baby will create. They do specify that this particular class is best suited for kids 10 months-2 years.
Suzanne (an RCRT) of Foot Guru Reflexology has a few great online resources for parents! Her Baby and Me Reflexology Course covers relief for teething pain, digestive upset (gas, colic, constipation, etc), sleep struggles, cold and virus symptoms, as well as skin conditions such as eczema, baby acne and rashes). So helpful and would make a great gift to a new parent or even to yourself! She’s also added a simple Baby Snooze Button guide, you can follow @footgurureflexology on Instagram for more (bonus, she’s also running a huge baby giveaway right now)!
BABY FOOD CLASSES
I still don’t know what I’m doing with this whole solids thing. It’s actually been the ONE thing I feel least confident and relatively insecure about on this parenting journey. Everything else I’ve managed to remain fairly chill about, but when it comes to feeding Lucy, I find myself comparing a lot to other moms, anxious in the moment, and feeling a bit lost. Basically, it sounds like I’m selling myself on some baby food classes LOL. I’ve seen the Solid Starts guides recommended, as well as Feeding Littles classes. A few on IG were even enrolled to get certified to consult for pregnancy, postpartum and baby with Oh Baby. I know I’ll figure the food thing out, the journey just hasn’t been what I thought it would be, which is just so spot-on for 2020.
BABY AND MAMA YOGA
Brenlie of Nurture Natal Yoga is the best, I adored her prenatal classes as well as her Baby and Mama distanced outdoor classes at Dude Chilling Park in the summer. I really, really miss it. Brenlie has an online Baby & Me Musical Yoga package with 3 full-length classes that you can do from home. Do you have any baby and parent workouts that you love to do at home?
THE DAY TO DAY
Walks, Walks, Walks
Yes, of course, we all KNOW that fresh air helps us, but knowing and doing are two different things. On those days when it’s miserable out and you don’t feel like leaving the house, I promise that as long as it’s not so cold and stormy that it’s unsafe to do so, getting out for even just a short walk will be great for all. Honestly, I’ve even just opened the sliding door and stepped onto our patio for a few minutes for a little reset. Getting outside when you can is a must!
Lucy has always loved to watch the older kids play so we often take her to the park and she just watches them and babbles. We also do time on the baby swings if it’s nice enough out and have been using our handy Swing Thing insert which makes it a comfier seat for Lu. Now that it’s the holidays she also very much enjoys an evening light walk, which helps us with that last wake window.
Besides our usual neighbourhood stroll, my favourite local walks lately are Trout Lake (great for distancing as well), the Seawall (can get very crowded, I encourage wearing a mask), and Pacific Spirit Park (the perfect rainy day forest walk). Where do you love to go for your walks?
Step Up Your Home Play
The amount of creative Mamas out there is so wonderful! Y’all have the best ideas. There are a ton of posts on Pinterest with ideas for new at-home play and I started following some new accounts like Crafty Moms on TikTok (though, a lot of their stuff is bookmarked for when Lucy is a bit older).
There are apps with ideas as well, like BabySparks (someone on IG suggested it, I still need to give it a try) and Playfully. If your budget allows for it, a toy subscription, like Lovevery is an idea as well. We were lucky enough to receive one as a gift from my in-laws and it has been awesome. I don’t really buy much else and I love how all the toys were created with intention. It’s definitely made my life easier in terms of choosing toys.
If you have space in your home for it, there are cool options for older babies who are climbers. A friend on IG mentioned she was getting a pikler triangle for her little one and I also saw that Cushy Couch launched their play couch, which is made in Canada!
I’m sure many are already doing this, but I definitely love to try to catch a grandparent, family member or friend on a video call if our wake window is dragging on. It’s sadly considered our social time these days, but a win-win for loved ones to get some Covid-friendly quality time with the baby and a moment for me to chat. Honestly, a lot of the time they just like to watch Lucy play. It’s extra fun for Lucy when we can FaceTime with other kids, she likes to watch them play and chat/laugh with them!
ANYTHING TO ADD?
Solidarity to all the other parents out there trying to make it work and keep your sanity (or at least some of it) while parenting during a worldwide health crisis. This is a hard year for everyone, but this gig is challenging in a unique way. Try not to let the guilt get ya, we’re all doing the best we can.
I hope this little list helped somehow and if you have any advice or ideas to add, please let me know!