It can be a massive change being home with a new baby especially if you’ve been working and are now on maternity leave. As well as missing adult conversation, the days can feel so long and boring. In fact, it can feel a bit like Groundhog Day with every day the same as the one before.
However, to combat the boredom, here’s a list of weekly fun challenges you can do with your baby before they turn one. There’s heaps of fun things to do with a baby in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter. There’s activities to get out of the house which is important when you need a change of scenery or some intellectual stimulation. But there’s also some fun interesting projects when you feel like staying in.
1. Go for a walk with your baby
There’s lots of great walks that you can do around the region to get you moving. Whether you want something flat or a walk with hills, strap baby in a stroller and get out of the house. Some of our recommendation include Eleebana to Speers Point, Lambton Park, Fernleigh Track or hilly Bar Beach to Merewether.
2. Attend Baby Book Club
Introduce your child to the wonderful world of books with special programs for babies and toddlers. All of the local libraries including Newcastle Region Library, Lake Macquarie City Library and Maitland City Library organise programs like Baby Storytime. Most have special baby packs for parents to borrow as well.
3. Take your baby to a family-friendly café or restaurant
If you want to go out to eat, find somewhere family-friendly where babies and prams are welcome. Here’s a list of local cafes and restaurants with play areas.
4. Join a playgroup
Get out of the house and make new friends at playgroup. Playgroups provide babies, toddlers and young children with a wide variety of early learning experiences including play time, music, stories, arts and crafts and excursions. Here’s a list of local playgroups.
5. Go to a mum and bubs movie
Don’t miss out on the latest movies – take your baby to the movies. Called Spit the Dummy at Reading Cinemas and Bring Your Baby at Event Cinemas, these movie sessions are suited to those with babies. The lights are dimmed but not completely dark so you can feed babies or keep an eye on little ones.
6. Enrol your baby in a baby class
There’s loads of mum and bub classes you can enjoy like swimming, kindergym, music classes, etc.
7. Join a mother’s group
In those early years of motherhood, mothers groups are a great support network. So get out of the house and organise meet ups with other mums.
8. Visit the animals at Blackbutt Reserve
Take your baby to Blackbutt Reserve and show babies the animals. There are plenty of tranquil picnic spots to relax and enjoy time with young kids. If you feel like a wander, introduce your child to some of the resident animals such as koalas, emus, kangaroos, wallabies and wombats. A series of boardwalks makes it easy to push around a stroller and let little ones view the creatures up close in the wildlife exhibits.
9. Take your baby to a beach or pool
In summer, take little ones down to the beach. The Canoe Pool at Newcastle Beach, the shallow area at Merewether Beach and Granny’s Pool at Blacksmiths Beach are ideal spots to take babies. (Here’s a list of local kid-friendly beaches). If you would prefer to go to a local pool, there are shallow toddler pools at Lambton Pool, Wallsend Pool, Charlestown Swim Centre, Speers Point Swim Centre, Swansea Swim Centre, Morisset Swim Centre and Maitland Pool.
10. Catch up on your reading
Need some intellectual stimulation? Read a book. Visit your local library or if that’s a challenge, borrow an e-book from the library.
11. Learn how to do infant massage
It’s relaxing and soothing for both of you.
12. Go to an indoor play centre
Indoor play centres are a great option during the week when it’s hot or rainy. Babies are usually free can play in age-appropriate areas while parents enjoy a catch-up. Locally, there’s Megamania in Charlestown Square, Chipmunks in Maitland and Chameleon Play Cafe in Cessnock.
13. Visit a museum
With free admission, Newcastle Museum is a top spot to visit when it’s hot or raining. It has a small indoor play area called Mininova featuring plenty of equipment and soft mats to keep babies safe while they toddle around.
14. Visit a farmers market
Lose yourself in fresh produce straight from the farm and buy food directly from local farmers and artisans. Here’s a list of local markets.
15. Learn to cook something new
This might be the time to expand your cooking knowledge. Recomendations include slow-cooker recipes or one-dishes.
16. Keep a journal of your baby’s achievements
Keep that baby book updated. You might think that you’ll never forget when they first smiled, rolled over or took their first steps, but record it anyway/
17. Do a play-based activity with your baby
There’s lots of fun craft and sensory activities to do with your baby. Here are 5 play-based activities that you can do with babies and toddlers at home.
18. Take a ride
Try something different transport wise. Do a train ride, ride the Stockton ferry or even ride on a tram. Have you gone for a ride on Newcastle’s light rail? Low to the ground, it’s easy to roll prams and strollers on and off. And you’ll end up down at Newcastle Beach.
19. Visit a playground and put your bub on their first baby swing
There’s loads of parks and playgrounds around the area. Check out the Newy with Kids list of playgrounds for a description of different parks. If you want playgrounds specifically for younger kids, check out the Newy with Kids article Best playgrounds in Newcastle for toddlers.
20. Learn more about your baby
Feel like you need some help understanding your baby. Learn more about the parenthood journey by visiting Pregnancy Birth & Baby website – an Australian government resource
21. Go for a picnic
There’s something about eating outside which makes food taste better. Either pack a picnic or order takeaway and eat it on the grass.
22. Visit an art gallery
Put baby in a stroller or a baby carrier and visit Newcastle Art Gallery, Maitland Regional Art Gallery or Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery.
23. Do ParkRun
Walk or run one of the many ParkRuns in the area with your baby. It’s a 5K free timed run or walk on Saturday morning at 8am.
24. Make a new friend
Feeling a bit lonely. Here’s a tip to making mum friends.
25. Make a Spotify playlist
Enjoy music around the house and program your own playlist.
26. Take in some street art
Go hunting for street art. There’s murals all over the Newcastle region including Newcastle CBD, Mayfield, Wickham and Belmont. Check out our street art guide for your next walk with the stroller.
27. Plan a mum’s night out for yourself and some friends
It’s good to get out once in a while with your friends and enjoy some baby-free time.
28. Catch up on box sets or new shows on Netflix
Let’s face it. You’ve got the time. Binge-watch that series you’ve always wanted to
29. Do a DIY project
It doesn’t have to be big, in fact, recommend starting small. Just make something that will give you a sense of accomplishment. Go to Bunnings for inspiration.
30. Plant something
Plant a seed and watch it as well as your baby grow.
31. Organise a date night with your partner
Enjoy some baby-free time to connect. Here’s fun & romantic date night ideas around Newcastle. Much more than just dinner & a movie!
32. Walk around a new neighbourhood
Bored of walking around your own neighbourhood? Venture a bit further and explore another suburb.
33. Dress yourself and your baby alike
Sounds weird but it’s fun. Make sure you take selfies.
34. Learn another language
Always wanted to learn another language or even just a few words. Sign up for free on Duolingo, Babbel or other language apps and start learning.
35. Catch up with friends
Seems like everyone is so busy but make an effort to catch up with your friends in real life, not just online.
36. Get snapped
Babies grow and change so quickly so get some photos taken with your baby. There’s loads of professional photographers available to take photos of your family.
37. Go to a concert
Attend a kids concert with your baby. Kids under 12 months of age are usually free.
38. Make a photo book
Wondering what to do with all the photos you’ve taken of your gorgeous baby. Make a photo book. You can do it all online and get a photo book mailed directly to you. Order one for grandma too.
39. Plan a disco
Organise a baby disco complete with your favourite tunes for you and you baby to dance to.
40. Take a print of your baby’s hand and foot
There’s casting kits available or you can do a DIY using ink and paper at home.
41. Paint with your baby
Paint a masterpiece with your baby using baby food or yogurt. That way, if the “paint” ends up in their mouth, it’s not an issue.
42. Create a time capsule
Make a time capsule to open in five, ten or even 20 years. Here some ideas of what to put in the capsule and where to store it.
43. See some fairies
Take baby to the fairy garden in Broadmeadow. It’s a magical place transformed from overgrown public land into an area where kids can play.
44. Pamper yourself
Motherhood can be stressful so make sure you take opportunities to look after yourself and have a break. Go out and get a massage or a facial or enjoy a bubble bath or DIY spa treatment at home.
45. Make playdough
You don’t need to buy playdough. It’s so easy to make home playdough.
46. Learn to meditate
Relax and learn how to tune it all out and be in the moment.
47. Go trainspotting
Watch miniature trains whizzing by at Edgeworth Trains. You can even go for a ride on them with your baby.
48. Plan baby’s first birthday
It’s a milestone for your baby so plan a fun birthday to commemorate the occasion. Here’s the Newy with Kids birthday guide to provide some inspiration.
49. Take up a new hobby
Whether it’s sewing, knitting, woodworking or pickling, just try something new.
50. Join a Toy Library
Want different toys for your baby? Newcastle Region Library hosts a Toy Library at New Lambton Library where families can borrow up to 3 toys per child every week. The toys range in suitability for ages 0 to 8.
51. Record your family history
Start collecting your family stories and recipes. It will be invaluable for your child as they grow older.
52. Celebrate surviving a year!
This is an achievement so celebrate the year and all that you’ve done.
Having a baby is a life-changing event! There’s so much to learn and to do. Newy with Kids is here to help with a big list of resources in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and the Hunter including information on baby-friendly places, local playgroups, baby book sessions, baby sleep advice and more.
Heading back to work after maternity leave? Check out our guide to balancing work and family which is packed with useful tips to handle the responsibilities of work and family life.
In 2012, Reena founded Newy with Kids to share information about family-friendly Newcastle. Originally from Canada, she had no idea about what to do with her toddler and after searching unsuccessfully for a family guide, decided to start her own. Since that time, both the toddler and Newy with Kids have grown keeping Reena busy. If you see her out and about, say hi.