Baby, it’s cold out­side

Make in­doors fun wih these games

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

FOR MOST FAM­I­LIES the win­ter months are a chal­lenge. The chil­dren are sick all the time, and it’s of­ten too cold – and in the Cape also too wet – to play out­side. The re­sult: you of­ten find your­self trapped in­doors with your kids.

But don’t de­spair; in a cinch you can trans­form your home into a play area. We show you how and flag up some fun ac­tiv­i­ties you can take on to­gether. Here are some ideas for ev­ery room.


The kitchen is the per­fect place for the kids to make a good old mess. (Never fear, we also have ad­vice for tidy­ing up – check the end of the ar­ti­cle!)

Make a child-friendly cup­board in which your kids are wel­come to scratch around. Use it for plas­tic plates and cups and Tup­per­ware con­tain­ers. You can even ded­i­cate a drawer to your lit­tle one’s toy cups and plates.

If you’re feel­ing brave (or per­haps des­per­ate) and feel up to the mess, fill a big bowl with rice. Give your child mea­sur­ing cups and spoons to work with. Hours of fun!

A won­der­ful kitchen ac­tiv­ity is bak­ing cook­ies. Put your child on a step or stool if she can’t reach, and al­low her to help you. She could put the in­gre­di­ents to­gether or do the stir­ring. Older chil­dren can dish bat­ter or dough into the cookie pan. You can also give chil­dren cut­ters to cut the dough, or even bet­ter: ask them to come up with their own shapes, and these can then be baked.

En­cour­age your lit­tle one to make shapes such as an­i­mals, di­nosaurs and fairies. Re­mem­ber these ac­tiv­i­ties are sup­posed to be fun – it doesn’t mat­ter how the cook­ies turn out at the end!

After the bis­cuits have been baked and have cooled down, you can dec­o­rate them. Put out as many dec­o­ra­tions as pos­si­ble. Have dif­fer­ent colours of ic­ing su­gar in bowls, sil­ver balls, Smar­ties and jelly tots. When you’re done, clean up, and then save the cook­ies that haven’t been eaten for a tea party (see un­der “Din­ing room” for our tea party ideas).


Cover the din­ing room ta­ble with blan­kets, and help your lit­tle one to make a cosy tent. In­vite a friend, and bring them some pic­nic eats they can have in the tent.

Chil­dren love tea par­ties. You can use toy cups and saucers, or real ones if you feel up to it. The se­cret of a suc­cess­ful tea party lies in the prep. Get them ex­cited. Be­gin with help­ing your child make party in­vi­ta­tions, then make the snacks to­gether.

You can also dec­o­rate a dis­pos­able table­cloth for the party. Al­low them to dress up in Mom and Dad’s clothes – and give them some nail var­nish and make-up too if they want it. It’s a party, after all…

Tell them it’s a real tea party, and since they’re grown-ups, they have to be on their best be­hav­iour. Keep it light and do it through play: make ex­ag­ger­ated cour­tesy ges­tures, and show them how to drink tea with their lit­tle fin­gers in the air. Usu­ally you have won­der­fully be­haved chil­dren – for a while at least!


Have a ded­i­cated play nook in your lounge. Dur­ing win­ter you might even con­sider mov­ing the cof­fee ta­ble to a cor­ner so that there’s enough floor space for com­fort­able play. Pack toys such as blocks and cars in boxes in the lounge, and al­low them to play there.

An­other lovely ac­tiv­ity is to have a pic­nic in the lounge.


Put some of your child’s books on the bot­tom shelf in the study. Scat­ter comfy cush­ions around the area, and en­cour­age them to page through their books in the read­ing nook.


Make bath­time fun. Buy bath crayons – chil­dren are mad about them, and they can make a mess with­out be­com­ing dirty them­selves. Find them at most toy shops.


Put up a tent in your sprog’s room. Al­low her to “camp out” one night and ac­tu­ally sleep in her tent.

Sort out her toys and make sure she knows where ev­ery­thing is and that she can get to them eas­ily, so she doesn’t need to bug you ev­ery time she wants to play with a spe­cific toy.


Put a box of toys in your bedroom. Al­low your child to play there. It cre­ates va­ri­ety and is very ex­cit­ing if it’s usu­ally out of bounds for games.


Li­braries usu­ally have story hours some morn­ings of the week. It’s nice and warm in the li­brary, and chil­dren al­ways en­joy the books a lot.

How does a mu­seum sound? Old and fusty? You’ll be sur­prised: Sci-bono in Joburg, ushaka Marine World in Durbs, the aquar­ium in Cape Town...

When it’s not so cold, take a walk. It’s a fab­u­lous op­por­tu­nity to teach your child about win­ter. Point out how win­ter looks dif­fer­ent from sum­mer, and lis­ten to the win­tery sounds to­gether.

If you feel up to the freeze, the zoo is a su­per place where chil­dren for­get about the cold in no time. The an­i­mals are also more ac­tive in win­ter.

In­vite friends over for a play date. Your lit­tle one may be in­vited back to their place, so you can have a break too. YB

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