Baby games will not only boost your baby’s development physically, mentally and socially, but will also help form and maintain the bond between you and your baby. What’s more is the whole family can partake in these games and make baby feel loved.
You’ll have to keep many things in mind when playing games with your baby. One of the first things is that you can’t go wrong with repetition – across all ages, but modify the repetition every now and then so you don’t bore your baby.
Take into consideration your baby’s attention span, temperament and moods. Your baby will signal when he is ready to play by reaching out to you or smiling – learn to read your baby’s play-ready signs. Too much play can lead to overstimulation, which will manifest as frustration, irritability and sometimes even crying.
Always be gentle with your newborn. This will prevent any physical injury that may occur with rough play with a baby between 0 and 3 months.
Baby is learning how to absorb the things around her through her sense of touch, taste, sight, hearing and smell. Because everything is still brand new to baby, don’t overwhelm her with too much of anything – keep it simple.
Babies like bold, simple colours and shapes: Show him carrots for instance and let him take it in through his senses. The great outdoors can also provide much stimulation for little developing brains: show him a leaf (make sure it is not poisonous), a flower, a dog.
Tap into her sense of hearing, by using the universal language of music and dance. Gently sway from side to side on your favourite soulful tune. Sing soft lullabies (yes, even if you don’t have the best voice), like Rock-a-bye baby, Swing low, sweet chariot, Twinkle twinkle little star…
Use textiles to develop baby’s knowledge of textures: rub different textures over baby’s arm, cheek, and head.
Baby will have no clue of how she looks, and so it might be a source of much fun to introduce a mirror during playtime.
Show and tell will expand baby’s frame of reference and spark her interest: point to an object like a toy, touch it, shake it, etc.
Other ideas include the blowing over baby’s body – gently blow on baby’s body to create a ticklish sensation – and making extreme facial expressions will also tickle their fancy.
4 to 6 months
As your baby is now getting stronger and more physical, you need to step up your game. Luckily you have more to work with: baby can now sit up, roll over, and handle and hold things.
Good old favourites that have stood the test of time include knee rides, tickle games and making LOUD noises.
Blowing bubbles is a good way of developing your baby’s hand-eye coordination at this early stage.
You can play with your baby by simply giving him hugs, kisses and tickles, and then suddenly stopping, gasping for air, and repeating the action.
The rhythm in rhymes is soothing and very entertaining. You can introduce reading in a fun way early on with classic nursery rhymes. Use nursery rhymes like Little Piggy: touch baby’s big toe, working your way to the little toe and say: This little piggy went to the market, this little piggy stayed home, this little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none. And this little piggy went wee-wee-wee all the way home.
Oops-a-daisy: when something falls, or let something fall on purpose and over-exaggerate your movements, saying Oops-a-daisy!
In the clouds and on the floor: move your baby up and down – hoisting her in the air and bringing her gently to the floor again – repeat. This can also be an Oops-a-daisy moment.
7 to 9 months
By now your baby is a solid sitter and can almost crawl. It is important to praise every new milestone she achieves with wild applause – like the first time (and second and third…) she pushes herself up to sit upright, her first crawl or almost-crawl.
Make crawling interesting by obscuring the way with soft toys, blanky, small cushions, and so on.
Play around with cause and effect: if you press the button on the remote the TV comes on, if you push the toy car the little wheels will start rolling, rolling, rolling.
You can develop his eye-hand coordination further by playing ball with him. Make him sit in an upright position and secure, then sit opposite him and roll the ball towards him. Repeat this a few times until he gets that he must return the favour.
Other favourites include Peek-a-boo and Where’s your nose?
10 to 12 months
Your baby is almost transforming into a toddler. Climbing, pulling up on things and even standing will substantially increase the range of games you can play. At this stage it is easy to withdraw from baby without even noticing as they are so busy and easily keep themselves entertained. No, intentionally play games with your baby to maintain your bond, with activities such as arranging and rearranging stuff around the house, like blocks, magazine piles – anything really; filling and emptying a plastic cup; imitation; and making noise with rattles, pots and cutlery. Make bath time fun with multi-coloured toys, a watering can, bubbles and so on.