Christmas is such a lovely time of year, especially when you have a new member of the family. However, it can be tricky wondering how to fill your time with a newborn baby over the festive season.
Here are some of the ways I keep my baby girl entertained over Christmas without spending a fortune…
Cheap & free things to do with your baby over Christmas
1. Go to a Christmas storytime session at your local library
Did you know libraries all across the country host a free storytime session for babies and toddlers? It’s a lovely incentive to get your baby into reading in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Each week, they have a special reading from a book.
Your baby can roam and explore afterwards, while older toddlers get the opportunity to colour. You also get a sticker, which Rose absolutely loves. Your local library also hosts a special Christmas storytime, which is free to attend too.
We got a little gift bag with a gingerbread man and some colouring pencils and paper last time. Santa himself makes a special appearance, so don’t miss out!
Check where your local storytime session is on your council website.
2. Visit a National Trust site
The National Trust is a fantastic place to visit during the Christmas period. They decorate their sites beautifully, and you can walk around for hours while your little one takes in all the magic.
Each site also hosts Christmas workshops, some of which may be appealing to older babies and toddlers like a Christmas treasure hunt.
You can often find free family passes online around this time of year, but if not, check out my top tips to save money on a National Trust membership.
3. Walk around your neighbourhood at night
There is no greater (and cheaper) way to feel festive than to pop your baby in the pram and take a walk around your neighbourhood to check out all the lights and decorations. The fresh air might also help your little one nod off to sleep!
4. Read Christmas books together
If your little one loves reading, stock up on a few Christmas books and snuggle up for a reading session. You can pick up Christmas books from the charity shop for as little as 25p. Or again, you could also visit your local library.
5. Head to a local playgroup
Playgroups are another great way to keep your baby entertained over Christmas. Our local playgroup hosts a Christmas party, where Santa makes a guest appearance and you also get a little goody bag.
I recommend church playgroups because they’re often a lot cheaper than soft play areas or sensory classes. The one we go to is just £2, and that includes snacks for the toddlers and a hot drink for the adults.
6. Make a keepsake Christmas tree ornament
Purchase little DIY keepsake ornament packs from Amazon and create little hand prints and footprints with your baby. This is such a cute activity, and if your baby is ticklish you will get lots of giggles and precious memories.
7. Craft Christmas cards with baby paint
Another lovely DIY activity is to create Christmas cards together using baby’s footprint. We’re going to attempt the rudolph face this year. If you’re looking for cheap supplies, sign up to Hobbycraft’s loyalty scheme and get regular discounts, plus a £5 voucher on your birthday.
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8. Visit the garden centre
We love the garden centre! It’s a great day out, especially around Christmas time when all the decorations are out. Most garden centres also have a moving festive display too. Our local Dobbies Garden Centre has a train, which is also dressed up for Christmas and makes for a lovely trip out during the Christmas holidays.
9. Sing & dance to Christmas songs
A totally free idea, and one guaranteed to get giggles! Dancing to Christmas songs is such a nice way to bond with your baby. If they love a good nursery rhyme, chances are you’re already singing to them – so why not add some Christmas carols or classic hits in there too?
This week we’ve been bobbing along to Jingle Bells and a bit of Step into Christmas and Rose can’t resist a good belly laugh when I spin her around and sing in silly voices.
10. Go thrifting together
Charity shops are a great place to find preloved bargains for Christmas. From festive outfits and Christmas jumpers, to gifts, toys, and even dinnerware and everything in between. You can pick up some amazing bargains from just 50p.
If you have a baby carrier, I find this is better for whizzing in and out of shops, plus your hands will be free to snap up those deals.
11. Bake Christmas cookies
Is there any better Christmas house smell than baked goods? This is a great excuse to get messy in the kitchen and involve your babies in the sensory elements that come with baking. (Disclaimer: I am definitely not a baker by any means, but I thought I would include this one just for those of you that love to bake)
12. Decorate the tree & watch the lights
Rest your baby on a play gym next to you while you decorate your tree. They will absolutely love the lights and all the shiny decorations. If they’re a little older, let them hold and play with baby-safe decorations.
13. Play the name game
Hold your baby and go around your home naming everything Christmas-related e.g. tree, cards, presents, etc. You can also play this while you’re out and about.
14. Make a Christmas sensory box
Grab a cardboard box or basket and throw in some scrunched up wrapping paper, along with any baby-safe, Christmas tat. Think about items with different feels and textures. This will keep you baby entertained for ages as they rummage and discover new sensory sensations!
15. Set up a play date with fellow mums
Christmas holidays can seem long. Am I right? Especially after all the excitement from Christmas and Boxing day dies down and you’re stuck in that weird week between Christmas and New Year.
Why not set up a play date with some Mum friends? The babies can go wild and you can catch up and share all your Christmas day gossip over a coffee and leftover Christmas choccies.
16. Watch a Christmas movie
We all know babies aren’t known to have the best attention span in the world, so this suggestion is probably more for you. However, popping Elf or a Christmas cartoon might give you 10 minutes of calm. You’re welcome! There are also baby-friendly cinema viewings sessions at Cineworld and other cinemas in your area.
17. Let baby ‘help’ wrap parents
This is another great sensory activity for baby. Sit down and hand them some wrapping paper and watch them wave it around and let them ‘help’ – Rose absolutely loves handing me things now too… And then asking for them back again straight away. Just make sure you keep the scissors well out of reach!
18. Take a Christmas family photo
You don’t have to spend a fortune on family photo shoots, or travel to get a fancy background. Simply sit or lie in front of your tree at home, turn off the main lights, and snap a cosy photo you’ll treasure forever.
I’ve seen this trend now where kids lie in front of the Christmas tree in front of a book, which is hiding a phone behind with the torch shining up on their faces. Some of the shots look amazing! You could also get silly and dress up for a more novelty approach.
19. Go to church on Christmas Eve
We attend a fantastic church, it’s where we got married and we go there regularly, for baby groups, and mass. Check out your local church for events on Christmas Eve.
Ours runs a family-friendly mass, which includes real donkeys for the nativity! It will make you feel all warm and Christmassy, just in time for the big day!
20. Visit relatives
Another baby-friendly, free day out idea around Christmas is to visit relatives. It might not be the most exciting thing in the world, but your family will love to see your little one and fuss over them. And it gives you the chance to drop off your cards and pressies, and catch up with a cup of tea and a mince pie.
21. Go to a local light switch on
Big city light switch on events might be a little too intense for babies, but local, small town light and Christmas tree switch on events are perfect. There are usually food and drink stalls and lots of entertainment for young kids and adults too.
22. Head to the Christmas markets
Speaking of food and drink stalls, have you thought about going to a Christmas market with your little one? It’s a lovely day out, and your baby will get to take in all the sights, sounds, and smells.
23. Plant a Christmas tree to grow with baby
This is such a cute recommendation we got from someone at the garden centre! You can buy potted Christmas trees, and leave them outside until Christmas and then bring them in. They can grow as tall or as small as you like.
24. Create a sensory / nursery rhyme stocking
Similar to a box, you can also create a sensory stocking, filled with lots of different textures and sounds for baby. Last year, we also created our own nursery rhyme bag with items I found in charity shop buckets.
Your baby picks out an item, and you sing the nursery rhyme associated with that toy.
25. Visit a local animal shelter or farm
Did you know that animal shelters or farms are actually very cheap, if not free to visit? The Donkey Sanctuary in Manchester is free to book and visit, but you’ll have to be fast, as they spaces up really fast. Especially around the festive period.
What a lovely experience for you and your family, especially if your baby loves animals!