Games to Play with Babies
Babies are curious, active and like children they learn through their play. Babies need a variety of experiences and there is a range of games and ways to stimulate your baby depending on their age.
Play is the main way babies learn how to move, communicate, socialise and understand their surroundings. Babies are unique and their ability to manage stimulation is based on them as an individual.
We have provided some ideas on how to play with babies from newborns to 12 months of age. For your baby’s development it is important that you take time with each activity and to not rush them. Particularly during the first month your baby will learn most by interacting with you!
It is time to have fun with your baby!
There are a number of ways you can help your newborn learn through play. As they are so new to the world the games and interactions are very basic and may include:
- When caring for your newborn; talk, smile and interact with your baby. Watch and respond to your baby’s cues.
- Eye contact can be very stimulating for babies.
- Watch how your baby moves or coos when you talk to them.
- In the first few weeks you may want to introduce some simple toys that appeal to the senses of hearing, sight and touch; introduce age appropriate toys such as soft rattles and soft textured toys.
- Massage time – very gently massage your baby after their bath or before they go to bed. This helps your baby to bond with you and also helps them understand their spatial awareness.
It is important to look for signs where your baby has reached their limit for stimulation. Possible signs include frowning, crying or turning away, arching their back and closing their eyes or falling asleep. If you see these signs, give your baby a rest.
Check out our range of soft rattles here
0 to 3 months
The games and interactions are still basic however you can start to introduce some different types, including:
- Hold your baby up in front of a mirror so they can explore what they look like. Talk to them about what they can see.
- Take your baby outside so they can see all the things that are moving; trees, leaves, branches etc. You could also hang some streamers or ribbons on the clothes line and watch them move.
- Play some music and help baby to clap their hands, clap their feet and wriggle their fingers.
3 to 6 months
Now we can really start to explore all of the senses by introducing the following:
- Fill a plastic container with dry rice or pasta (make sure lids are secured) and shake to your babies’ side or behind your baby and see if they can find it.
- Place some colourful socks on your baby’s feet so they can see the bright colours or safely tie little bells around their ankles so when they move their feet they can hear a gentle ringing sound.
- Read to your baby. Touch and feel books are best at this age as you can encourage them to touch the different textures as you read to them.
- Sing to your baby and include nursery rhyme action songs such as Round and Round the Garden, Twinkle Twinkle, Wheels on the Bus and Incy Wincy Spider.
- When they are having tummy time, place a small non-breakable mirror in front of them so they can see their reflection.
- Place a book in front of them and turn the pages or another idea is to place some soft toys close to them and move them from side to side which encourages them to move, lift and turn their head.
6 to 9 months
- Books are timeless and invaluable. Babies learn so much from board or cloth books.
- Play peek-a-boo with your baby. It is so much fun!
- While sitting on the ground, roll a soft ball to them, eventually with encouragement they will roll it back to you.
- Make homemade musical instruments by adding coloured dry rice or pasta in a small bottles and let baby hold and shake it.
- Introduce a Play Blankie which is super soft and made from certified organic cotton. It has silicone teethers, scrunchy, knotty & loopy bits to play with. It allows baby to feel a variety of textures.
9 to 12 months
- Water games are fun and a relaxing outdoor activity especially in the summer months. Using a large container, place on the ground and fill with a small amount of water. Place objects in that float such as corks, small toy ducks etc and allow your baby to reach and grab them. Please note: always supervise babies and children when playing with water.
- Play Hide and Seek with toys. Show them the toy then hide it under a blanket or sheet and encourage them to find it.
- Introduce musical instruments designed for babies such as xylophones, drums and shakers.
- Provide opportunities for them to crawl by placing them on their tummy and placing a bright coloured toy just out of their reach.
- Sand play is brilliant as it teaches them about textures, temperature, movement and other sensory characteristics of the sand. Have some bright coloured toys, pastel toys, containers, buckets and moulds that are small enough for baby to hold onto and grab. Talk to your baby about what you are doing first before you do anything to them. For example: ask baby to pour sand into their hand but demonstrate on your hand first.