Keeping a baby entertained

Last Wednesday night my son laughed for 15 minutes at the spinning Lazy Susan on our kitchen table. He belly laughed as he watched our napkins spin round and round and round. It was delightful.

Babies are just delightful, aren't they.

Babies are many things.

They are fun (most of the time).

They are charming.

They are delightful.

But keeping an infant (or toddler) entertained is not always fun, delightful or charming. And while puffs can buy you a good 20 minutes before the screaming starts, food is not always the answer. (I know, even I gasp as I write that.)

So how can you keep a baby entertained on a weekend, or how do you fill the day if you're a stay-at-home mom (or dad)? Or how do you keep that kiddo happy on a long car ride? And how do you keep all of this entertainment stimulating and engaging?

Here are five tips from the experts. (Notice I am not an expert.) Best of all- these ideas are either free or can be made from things you already have around your house!

Photo credit

1. Water Sensory Bottles Sarah Eleanor over at Spoonfed Baby shared this idea on her Facebook page. It's brilliant and Little Bits and I will be trying it this week. She combined oil and water with food coloring and all sorts of shiny things in a water bottle for endless infant fun.

2. Baby Core exercise. Okay, the first time I saw this I thought, "this woman is crazy." But when I tried it with baby boy, he loved it. I mean LOVED it.

3. Edible Sensory babies love two things, putting everything in their mouths and then trying to eat whatever it is they just put in said mouth. Why not try a little Edible Sensory Activity?

4. It keeps going and going! Let's add a third thing babies love- pulling on things. Hair, jewelry, food bowls. Why not engage them in some pulling that won't hurt your head or leave your floors a mess. I Can Teach My Child (my sister's favorite blog -other than this one of course) had this great pin worthy idea of putting scraps of fabric in an old wipe container for hours and hours and hours of fun.

5. Touch book. If you love to craft this one is up your alley. I found this idea on Pinterest. It's a sensory book you can make yourself. Out of scrap materials. Think: soft, smooth, rough etc. etc.

Do you have any ideas to share? I want to know how you keep your baby engaged.

A word on baby food

This is a blog about food and this is a blog about babies but this isn't a blog about baby food. If you want a great blog about baby food, I highly recommend Sarah Eleanor over at Spoonfed Baby. She is witty and smart and full of knowledge.

So I reccomend you go there to get your info on baby food making. But I do want to talk a little bit about the advantages of making your own baby food.

The other day I got a coupon from Publix in the mail. It was for $1.50 of Beechnut Baby Food. The baby food was also on sale BOBO. So I was able to get eight jars for $.64 total. That's fantastic! But it is also largely unheard of. I put the jars in the cabinet for use when we go on vacation.

Had it not been on sale, those eight jars would cost me $4 or more. While $.50 a serving seems like no big deal you have to consider this- I can make baby food for $.10 or less per serving.

Note: I pulled this out of the freezer to photograph. And yes, I am reusing baby food jars in the freezer.

Last week I got a bag of organic carrots on sale for $.99. I was able to make 11 containers of homemade baby food for that. That is $.09 a container.

It was simple. I chopped the carrots, put them in the rice cooker/steamer of all things. Let them steam for an hour. Then I poured the carrots and some of the water from steaming them into a blender and let them blend away.

It required little effort on my part and required no special equiptment. It saves money and I know exactly what is in my baby food.

10 Cheap Dates

It's Frugal Friday over at Life As Mom. So let's talk about Cheap Dates.

Dates are important. Since we had the baby seven months ago we have been on 2. Yeah, I know. We need to get out more.

This weekend my mother-in-law will be in town to keep sweet boy while we go on a date. I am so excited.

But we, like so many of you, are living a frugal life, so we are dating on a budget.

Here are 10 ideas:

1. Don't be afraid to BOGO. We purchased an Enjoy the City book and it is filled with great buy one get one bargins. Also, check out Groupon for some great deals in your area.

2. Pick your own. Our area has some great pick your own farms. Black berries, strawberries, you name it you can pick it. Pack a picnic and spend an afternoon picking your favorite fruits for later.

3. See the great outdoors. Do you have a great park, local beach or walking trail? Grab your sunscreen, pack and sandwich and hit your local patch of nature.

4. Keep it local. If your city has a great museum they might have some free days for those who live in the county. Seriously, Google "free museum days" and a ton of info pops up.

5. Dinner and a movie, budget style. You can make a great homemade pizza for about $3. Pair it with a Netflix marathon of Lost and you have a pretty good evening.

6. Pin it. Go bowling. A lot of bowling alleys offer great weeknight deals. You can get a 2-for-1 game or free shoe rentals.

7. Gift challenge. This sounds really not fun, but it is. Each year when it is Toys for Tots time my husband and I budget what we're going to spend and then we make it a challenge to see who can get the most bang for their buck. I always win.

8. Play along. Does your town have a local playhouse? Or is your local high school perfoming the music man? Why not go? You can probably get a couple tickets for $20. Put on your fancy shoes and go take in a show.

9.Wii game night. Put a batch of chocolate chip cookies in the oven. Fire up the Wii (or whatever gaming console you like) and have an indoor tennis match, car race or discover the cake is a lie (yes, that is a portal reference).

10. What's so amazing that keeps us star gazing? One of my favorite memories of my time with Beardface (my husband Jason) was when we were still in college. There was a meteor shower. So we went to our university's golf course in the middle of the night and just laid down and watched the stars fall around us. We drank coffee and talked about the future. It was a sweet memory that didn't cost us a thing.