Baby's Day Out
One of our dadzclub members gives us a very entertaining account of the challenges of entertaining his 7 month old at the weekend.
As I am reasonably new to being a Dad I am still adjusting to all the challenges that having a baby can bring. One of the biggest challenges I find is what to do at the weekend? What is there to do with a 7 month old baby that is enjoyable for me but at the same time engaging for my son. There seems to be a number of enticing and adventurous activities for toddlers or older but finding things to do with a baby under 12 months isn’t easy.
There are only so many times I can bare to go for a family walk, I need something more. Don’t get me wrong family walks are fine and sometimes a necessity if things are getting tough within the four walls. In fact a walk to feed the ducks can be an exhilarating experience. A few weekends ago my son and I were verbally attacked by a hardened gaggle of geese that prey on innocent families who dare to offer them bread that has gone past its best. For reference, using your baby’s buggy as a shield is apparently frowned upon especially if the baby is in it at the time.
Now, a trip to the swimming pool is a bit more exciting and an activity that is enjoyable for both of us. However, if you decide to go without the moral support of another adult the experience can be slightly overwhelming as I recently found out.
Time, day, location and weather all have an impact on how busy the pool is going to be, and if you fail to consider this like I did then things can become challenging. I naively thought that I would be able to walk straight in, get changed, have a calm swimming experience and then leave. I realised that this would not be the case after waiting 15 minutes for a baby changing cubicle. It was like being in the Wild West and it was every man and baby for themselves. I even witnessed a family of seven exit one cubicle! I checked to see if in fact it was a gateway to Narnia and although the group were missing a half man half goat hybrid the Dad did have very dubious chest hair.
Another thing to consider when taking a baby swimming is the type of pool you visit and what features it has. I decided to visit a leisure pool which did have a small area designed for babies but the temptation to venture into the main pool got the better of me. It was a decision I thought had paid off as my son enthusiastically splashed around like a hyperactive octopus. However, once the rattling of my ear drums had eased I realised that what I thought was an inappropriate sounding of a foghorn was in fact the warning signal for the start of the wave machine. Luckily I have the swimming technique of a finely tuned mermaid and managed to ride the waves to safety, but a less competent swimmer may have had issues.
I find it amazing how since becoming a Dad I have had to think about every little action that previously I would have done without any consideration, for example getting out of the pool. If it was just me I would get up and go but as I had a baby by myself and given how crowded the pool was I had to plan my exit to ensure minimal stress. With a strategically placed poolside towel, a strong right arm and the prowess of an elegant hippo the exit went as well as it could have.
Swimming is a great activity if you want to fill an hour or so but what if you want a whole day out? I found that trips to the farm and zoo are a success, but again there are limited activities for babies under 12 months. One of the options that I found the best was a visit to the aquarium. It was something that I always enjoyed and it turned out my boy enjoys too. The big tanks and exotic fish provide an explosion of colour that managed to hold my sons attention for longer than anything I had seen that didn’t involve food.
Depending on the aquarium you visit there may be some features that are not suitable for babies or children of a nervous disposition. The one we went to featured a big shark tank, which I was slightly worried about as my son was scared of the vacuum. How would he react to a 7 foot shark?!
The wail of crying children echoed around the room as we entered the Shark Zone. I caught eyes with another Dad as he scuttled his crying child from the room. I couldn’t make out if his eyes were saying Good Luck or Leave, Leave now! We continued towards the tank and to my amazement my son was fine as he watched on in awe and even reached out his hand to touch the tank as the shark swam past. As the relief filled my body I remember thinking I hope the next tank isn’t full of endangered vacuums.
The day passed without a hitch and despite my son’s determination to stay awake for the whole of the aquarium visit, the tiredness got the better of him and he slept through the last part. I would highly recommend a visit to an aquarium and although it isn’t necessarily cheap, it’s a day out to remember.
The weekend will soon be here again and my quest for finding days out and activities for babies continues. If anyone has any good ideas for baby days out then please do share.