We all love babies, and we want to get to know our new grandchildren as soon as possible. This, as we’ve seen in the recent past, can really present a problem for families. Families encounter many situations where the grandparents cannot meet or hold or play with their grandbabies, so the next best thing we have is a video call.
Most calls with babies are going to take place with one of her parents holding her. That means that your calls will be mostly talking to your son or daughter, while intermittently talking to the baby. This is probably best, because even though you are not talking directly to the baby all the time, she is still hearing your voice.
In this article there are plenty of ideas of what to do with your very young grandkids. Maybe having a video call with your infant grandson sounds a bit crazy, but it can be done! Plus it allows you and your new grandchild’s parents to get into a habit of calling. Here’s what’s ahead:
- Three rules for chatting with babies
- Lots and lots of activities for what you can do with them on a call
Disclaimer: Some of our articles may contain affiliate links; when you click on these you can purchase a product or service at no extra cost to you, but doing so provides us some income to run the blog, and we thank you.
When “chatting” with infants and babies remember these three rules:
- Timing is everything.
- Keep it active.
- Keep it short.
Timing is Everything!
As we mentioned in our Tips for Family Video Calls article, timing is everything. However with babies, timing is critical, because let’s face it…they are sleeping all the time! That doesn’t mean that you should wait until they are a little older.
Even as newborns, children are paying attention to their surroundings. You may not always be able to tell what they are taking in, but that comes easier with time. Take advantage of this time to find out what you are comfortable doing online, as well as getting your new grandchild to recognize your voice and eventually what you look like.
Babies take up a lot of Mom and Dad’s time, too. Make sure to schedule a time for your call that will work for everyone. The best time for your infant grandchild is going to be when she is wide awake, has been fed and changed.
Keep it Active
As the baby grows and learns how to focus on you, it’s important to keep moving and as close to the camera as is comfortable. Waving, nodding, and general movements will help keep her focused on you. Although, this is not overly important at the beginning, it’s a good habit for you to start practicing. All kids love movement.
Keep it Short
Remember during the early days, the baby won’t be awake more than about 40 minutes in total, so it can be difficult to fit you in. The good news is that you really don’t want to spend more than 5 minutes engaging with him. And don’t worry 5 minutes is enough as long as you consistently call and talk to him.
Many developmental educators would suggest that the longest you can expect a child to actively engage in one activity is about 5 minutes per year of age. So, that full first year, understand that your grandbaby has a lot to take in. Spending 5 minutes with him is often more than enough.
Attention span will be different with each individual, but you don’t want your grandchildren to think of talking to you as a chore. You want them to look forward to it. If 5 minutes isn’t enough for you, talk with the parents and see if you can call two or more times per week.
Lengths of time to engage with children on a video call:
According to the Summit Medical Group, “A normal attention span is 3 to 5 minutes per year of a child’s age. Therefore, a 2-year-old should be able to concentrate on a particular task for at least 6 minutes, and a child entering kindergarten should be able to concentrate for at least 15 minutes.”
- Up to 1 year – no longer than 5 minutes.
- Up to 3 years – no longer than 10 minutes.
- Up to 5 years – no longer than 15 minutes.
- School age children up to age 10 – around 25 minutes.
- Older children – no more than 40 – 45 minutes max.
To begin with, it’s a good idea for you to have some goals on what you want to do during your time with the baby. Jot down 1-2 things, not more, and that way you won’t get caught up not accomplishing any of them.
Check out some of our other articles on keeping connected to your grandchildren:
Activities with Babies On A Video Chat
Doing things with a baby doesn’t change much from in person to online, except that you can’t manipulate the child’s surroundings. Many of the activities you do with her while she’s with you is the same on video.
- Greetings and Goodbyes
- Read a part of a book or a whole board book.
- Sing a song.
- Recite a nursery rhyme or other short poem.
- Practice using sign language.
- Take a walk.
- Play a game.
Greetings and Goodbyes
During the infant stages, and maybe for some months, you won’t get to do too much. That five minutes is going to fly by. So make the greeting matter.
Saying hello, or hi is important. Make sure to remind the baby who you are. Say something like, “Hi Sally, I’m Grandma.” Remember to wave, point to yourself, and use as many movements as possible.
The same thing with saying goodbye. Make it memorable. Maybe have a special wave, or always blow a kiss, something that you can start now and make a tradition as the child grows. By doing it over the video call, this movement will eventually be great when they are in a school show, on the baseball field, or even graduating from college.
Read A Book
There’s no question that reading is a skill that every child needs to be successful, and it’s critical to have him start reading with as many people as possible right away.
While Mom and Dad are reading at home, they will probably always finish the book, but that’s okay. They can pick him up and put him to bed easily. You can do that, too, if you want. Maybe your phone call is scheduled right before nap.
However, if you are talking to the baby in-between naps you will want to keep him engaged. Using an ABC book or a book of animals, a sound book, any of these types of books will help teach him a bunch of skills.
Sing a Song
Babies love music, and guess what? They don’t care if you are tone deaf. Really, they don’t. It might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but it’s well worth it. Sure, at the beginning you’ll be doing it all by yourself, but soon your little baby will be chiming in.
If the songs have movement, it’s even better. Getting that baby moving is a great way to keep him engaged in your video call.
Some great songs to begin with are those tried and true songs that we grew up with. Some of my favorites are:
- Old McDonald Had a Farm
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
- I’m a Little Teapot
- Itsy Bitsy Spider
- Row, Row, Row Your Boat
- Mary Had a Little Lamb
- Ten in the Bed
- This Little Light of Mine
- Five Little Ducks
- Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes or for really small Eyes, Ears, Mouth, and Nose! Just point!
If you have forgotten these songs, as we all do at times. You can always find them on All Nursery Rhymes or YouTube, where you can practice on your own before singing them with baby. And don’t worry. You can sing the same song many, many times, each time you call them. Babies, all children really, love repetition.
Recite a Nursery Rhyme or Short Poem
Children love rhymes, and put words to movements and they will want to do it again, and again. If you have an old book of nursery rhymes, that’s great. If you don’t however, maybe you could buy one for you and one for your grandchild so when they are big enough, they can look and read it with you.
Some of our favorite nursery rhymes are:
- Hickory, Dickory Dock
- Jack Be Nimble
- Mary, Mary Quite Contrary
- Eenie, Meenie, Minie, Moe
- Baa, Baa Black Sheep
- Old Mother Hubbard
Practice Baby Sign Language
Signing with babies has become a very popular trend. According to this article by the Mayo Clinic, “Limited research suggests that baby sign language might give a typically developing child a way to communicate several months earlier than those who only use vocal communication.”
Parents I’ve known that do limited signs with their children love it. They are so happy that their young child can communicate before she has words. The article states that most children won’t start using the signs they have learned until around 8 months, but it’s a good idea for you to start long before them. Both of you need the practice.
The best way for you to start is to watch a video and buy a book or two. We’ve been practicing, but we’re not quite there yet. It definitely takes practice.
Take A Walk
Children love to move, and even though babies can’t walk yet, they’d love to see more of you, your house, your pets, your back yard. It really doesn’t matter where you go, just including them in different parts of your life, helps them get to know you.
To begin with you have very little time to do this, so pick one thing that you love that you can consistently update them about. Examples might be going to the kitchen and showing them what you made for dinner, or going into the backyard to show them how the garden is growing, or even calling the dog to you and showing off a dog trick.
As the baby gets older, you could take them on a tour of your house, show them your favorite grocery store, check mail, no matter where it is, she’ll enjoy it.
Play a Game
Baby games are so much fun. When the babies finally get to the stage where they are intent on you, surprised by you, laugh with you…it’s precious!
Some games to play with baby are:
- Peek a Boo
- Where is my?
- Patty Cake
- Mirror, Mirror
Peek A Boo
This is the simplest, yet most fun game. Whether you just cover your eyes with your hands, move up and down of the computer camera’s range, or use something else. It’s a blast watching the baby get excited when you reappear!
Where is My?
Helps to begin teaching the baby where her body parts are. “Where is my arm?” Lift your arm. “Here it is! Here is my arm.” Reinforce the name of the body part often. To begin with just use your body parts, but as the baby grows you can ask “Where are your eyes?”
Another family favorite and handed down for generations. You play and you do all the motions, and maybe you can enlist Mom or Dad to move the baby’s hands while you call.
This is a movement and sound activity. You mirror what the baby does, or try to get the baby to do what you are doing. Clap, stomp, smile, rub your hair, pull your ear.
It’s not easy getting to know an infant through a video call. We all know, we’d much rather be there holding them and talking to them. However using technology this way, at least, he can hear your voice and begin to recognize you slowly. Maybe when you do get together in person, he’ll already feel that he knows you. Have fun video calling your grandbaby!