There’s some good news when it comes to entertaining babies. For children under one, the whole world is interesting. As long as you don’t stay too long in one indoor space, you’ll probably find your baby is pretty easy to keep occupied just using what’s around you.

We’re not fans of using technology to do this – of course, this is a personal choice – but our opinion is that at this stage the real world is far better for entertaining babies than technology is.

Entertaining babies aged six months or under:

Your baby won’t need much. Just take a couple of your favourite toys along, and given them a chance to use the toys of other kids if you’re visiting friends or relatives just for some variety.  Seriously, that’s it. At this point, people are probably the best toys around, so engaging with them, or having keen friends and relatives do the same, will be more than enough.

We know travellers who swear by taking their child’s play mat, so that when they arrive at a friend or relative’s house and everything is different, they simply unroll the mat, put out those few favourite toys and things suddenly feel a whole lot more familiar for bub. This could work at any age with a baby under one.

Entertaining babies aged six to nine months:

Your more mobile baby is probably a little more interested in things to play with now; but they’re still not as fussy as a toddler. Add a couple more toys to your collection to take along, throw in a book or two if you’re already reading to your baby (recommended), and remember that what will entertain them the most is the chance to explore their new environment. At this stage your child will thrive on being outdoors; trees, leaves and birds will all prove endlessly fascinating.

Entertaining babies aged nine to 12 months:

At this age, you will need to start to up the ante on the entertainment front. You still don’t need to pack many toys – three to five favourites are plenty – we love the Skwishfor keeping babies entertained in any situation. We also recommend taking a ball as this is usually a winner in almost any environment for child of this age.

You’ll probably be also reading to your child before bed now, so take a few of their favourite board books. This is also a great way to calm a baby down if life gets a bit hectic on the road. Here are a few of our favourites: ‘ABC Book of Nursery Rhymes‘, ‘Where is the Green Sheep?‘ and ‘Rudie Nudie‘.

The main difference you’ll find is your baby’s tolerance level for hanging around (in a cafe, in their pram etc) starts to reduce significantly about now. You’ll want to look for parks, baby-friendly playgrounds (harder than it sounds), or beaches with shade (also not always easy) and in general, break up your day with plenty of opportunities to crawl, cruise, or walk around – particularly outdoors.  It’s from now that travelling with a child is really, yes really, different to without one. That doesn’t mean it’s not great! It’s just different. 

Need some tips on entertaining babies during a long haul flight? This post should help. 

Still want more? Sue recently wrote a story on this topic for SBS Life – one of Australia’s national broadcasters. You’ll find it here.

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Aussie journalist, travel writer and founder of Sue White has always been a traveller. When her son was born, Sue knew her travel itch would still need regular scratching. But how do you travel with a baby under one and still have a good time? Is it even possible? Where do busy new parents discover practical tips to support those first few trips? To find out, Sue and her baby son travelled both Australia and Europe doing house sits and house swaps; cat sitting and car journeys; took on 24 hours flights and short domestic jaunts; travelled with friends, solo and family members; and cycled, drove, flew and train-ed around seven countries, all before his first birthday. Learn more about Sue.