Sure, distracting Baby isn’t the technique you want to use to address big parenting problems, like biting other children, or what exactly an ‘inside voice’ is. There are times, though, when the issue that’s come up is a bit less important, or you’re in a setting, like the line at the grocery store, or stuck in very unpredictable traffic, where it’s just not practical to sit down with them and have a philosophical discussion about the nature of good and evil, or even just about volume. In those situations, sometimes a good distraction can stop a meltdown before it starts, or at least keep the volume to a manageable level.
The magic trick that is distracting Baby on-the-go can definitely be a bit easier with props, so having a distraction kit stashed in your bag for when you’re out can mean the difference between a successful redirection of Baby’s bad mood and a very uncomfortable errand-run.
- Snacks: Distraction snacking isn’t a good habit to get into, but sometimes the problem really is that Baby’s blood sugar is a little low, and you’re a few miles and several lines of traffic away from their dinner. Having a plastic baggie full of Cheerios, or a little container of blueberries on hand can make all the difference.
- Things that are already there: Things you already keep in your bag, that is. Baby will be delighted to get their hands on something they isn’t supposed to be playing with because it’s yours – and even if they hasn’t seen you using these things much, they'll know it’s something they shouldn&;t be playing with. They always know somehow. A hand mirror or small flashlight will keep them occupied for hours – or at least for a minute or two, so you can make it through the check-out line.
- A literary distraction: A small cloth or board book could be exactly what Baby needs to settle down. Even if they isn’t generally a big reader, it could be that the novelty of a book-on-the-go grabs their interest, and at worst, they can amuse themself at least once by dropping it, or flinging it away from themself. Hardcovers might not be the best idea.
- The whole song and dance: Toys that make noise are one of the most (occasionally irritating) fascinating things to Baby as they get older. If Baby is getting fussy, there’s a good chance they are probably going to be a little noisy no matter what, so it’s better for it to be a happy noise than an unhappy one. If you’re in the car, putting something catchy on the stereo could do the job, too.