Dear Mr. Dad,
Help! I'm a new mom and I'm bored out of my mind. Everyone says how much fun it is to have a baby but sometimes I can't think of anything to do with her. Do you have any suggestions?
Although simple things like pots and pans or trips to the grocery store have lost some of their charm for you, keep in mind that just about everything in the world is new to your child. This means that there is literally no limit to the number of fun -- and educational -- things you can do with your baby.
Making the baby part of your life: carry her everywhere you go -- whether it's to the mall or the beach doesn't matter -- and talk about everything you're seeing: plants, the sky, animals, cars, the guy on the side of the road getting a speeding ticket. (If you're carrying your baby in some kind of carrier, try to set it up so she can face out-it'll be a lot more interesting for her than spending the day looking at your chest.) Talk about the price of gasoline, the latest stock market tumble, or even the construction project you walk by on the way to the bank.
Don't limit your interaction to words. Wherever you can let your baby explore her other senses, too. At the grocery store, for example, let your baby feel the difference between an egg and a coconut and a can of tuna and let her smell the lemons.
When you're through with all your errands, there are plenty of other outing possibilities. Your baby's attention span is fairly limited now so going to the opera is probably out of the question. But short trips to places like the zoo or even your local pet shop are great. Babies to watch things that move a lot and will probably enjoy the fish and the hamsters than the tortoises. Babies usually love the water so a trip to your local pool can be great fun (but always hold on to her, even if she's in some kind of flotation device).
Of course, not all your activities require you to leave the house. Build towers out of blocks and knock them over. Dance or bang pots to music and blow bubbles in the bathtub. Reading is an especially good way to bond with your baby. Have her sit in your lap while you tell the story. Talk about the things on the page that aren't described in the text and ask her a lot of identification questions.
If your baby is crawling well try setting up an obstacle course in your living room. get down on your hands and knees and crawl over pillows, around the couch, and through a tunnel made from a sheet hung over two chairs.
-- "Mr. Dad"
A nationally recognized parenting expert, Armin Brott is the bestselling author of The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-To-Be, The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year, Fathering Your Toddler, The Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads, and four other books on fatherhood. He has written on parenting, fatherhood, and health for the New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and dozens of other periodicals. He also hosts "Positive Parenting," which airs on a dozen stations in the US and worldwide on the American Forces Network. Armin lives with his family in Oakland, California. You may visit his website at mrdad.com to learn more.