Getting ready for Christmas with your baby
With the holidays quickly approaching, we’re reminded that this season is an especially enchanting time for the little ones! Here are 10 great ideas for introducing babies to the wonder of Christmas, providing them with their first magical memories. From birth: casting their little feet For an original Christmas gift, try making a cast of your baby’s foot or hand. You can either buy a kit or make your own modeling dough using clay or pâte à sel (mix two units of flour, one unit of fine salt and one unit of water). Gently press your child’s hand or foot on a piece of dough, then bake the dough in the oven at 120°C (250°F) for two hours. What a lovely memory of your baby’s early years for grandparents or yourself! From birth: Christmas dancing Choose a selection of Christmas songs, pick up your baby and take a gentle whirl. Select the music, whether soft or lively, on the basis of your baby’s reactions; you will soon learn what type of music your child likes best. You may wish to practice this activity at a time when your baby is fidgety or fussy. The physical contact and the swaying of your body will quickly have a calming effect and the baby will probably end up falling asleep snuggled in your arms. From three months: learning about textures At three months, your baby is not yet able to pick up objects but can already distinguish between various types of textures. Choose a variety of Christmas decorations with different textures, such as soft garlands, feather or polystyrene balls, pine cones and small stuffed animals, then gently glide each material over your baby’s body. In this way, you will both entertain the baby and stimulate its sense of touch. From six months: the dazzle of holiday lights During the holiday season, your baby will take great delight in streets decorated with Christmas lights. Take the warmly dressed baby in your arms or a baby carrier and set off together to discover your neighborhood’s holiday lights. If you live in the city, the department stores’ colorful shop windows are just as fascinating for your little one. From six months: Christmas scents From the earliest age, babies have a highly developed sense of smell. Set your baby down in a comfortable spot, then present various fragrances typical of Christmas to stimulate its sense of smell, such as a cinnamon cookie, a Christmas tree branch, a clove-studded orange, a slice of spice cake, a clementine rind or a piece of cedar wood. Each time, clearly sound out the object that you’re giving the baby to smell. From one year: my first Christmas tree What could be more symbolic of the holiday than a Christmas tree? If your baby is still too young to decorate it alone, s/he will have a lot of fun doing it with you. Give the baby time to independently explore the box containing all the ornaments (be sure to remove the most fragile objects), then pick the baby up and put them on the tree together. Consider buying a garland with twinkling lights, which should captivate the baby for hours on end! From 18 months: forest treasures In the winter, the forest offers up a thousand and one treasures for tiny tots. It’s a great time to take the whole family on a walk in the woods, letting your child collect the wonderful things lying amid the trees, such as leaves, moss, chestnuts, acorns and stones. The baby will have a ball picking up anything that looks enticing. Once you get home, use all these little treasures to create a completely natural Christmas decoration. From 18 months: decorative shortbread cookies Make the shortbread dough by mixing 3 eggs, 500 g of flour, 200 g of softened butter and 200 g of powdered sugar. If you wish, flavor it with cinnamon, vanilla, or grated orange or lemon peel. Roll out the dough then show your child how to cut out cookies with cookie cutters in the shape of a star, Christmas tree, moon, heart, etc. You will, of course, need to provide some help on the basis of your child’s age! Next, the two of you can decorate the cookies with raisins, chocolate chips or sugar pearls, then bake them at 150°C (300°F) for 15 minutes. From two years: decorating the house Suggest that your child create Christmas tree ornaments from modeling dough with the cookie cutters used for the shortbread cookies. Use a straw or toothpick to pierce a small hole in the top of each shape so that the finished ornament can be attached to the tree. After baking, let your little one decorate the ornament however s/he wants with paint, sequins, feathers, etc. After you pull a pretty ribbon through each hole, the two of you can put the new ornaments on the tree. You can then have your child decorate plain cardboard or polystyrene Christmas balls, which are available in crafts stores.