You had a baby! Congrats! Now what exactly do you do with this blob when it’s not sleeping or eating? It may seem strange to think about playing “games” with something that can barely hold its head up, crawl, or walk. But, finding ways to engage is critical to Bubba’s development. It’s easier than you think, too.
You know how to play peek-a-boo, but do you know why you should play? Giving your babe a chance to watch you “disappear” and then return helps them build trust and avoid separation anxiety. You always come back.
2) Where’d It Go?
Another way to play peek-a-boo that requires a slightly older baby is to hide an object, instead of your face. If your child keeps reaching for the remote, let her watch you hide it under your leg. At first she might be frustrated, but eventually she’ll learn to start reaching, searching, and digging for it.
3) Mommy See (Or Hear), Mommy Do
It may seem silly to think that babies need encouragement when they can’t even talk. However, your attention, excitement, and affection are natural confidence boosters. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? When your little bug starts grunting or wiggling her eyebrow, try to copy her. She’ll know you’re paying attention that way.
Baby wants to copy you, too! Even very tiny babies like to play this game. Lock eyes for a few moments and then slowly stick out your tongue. It might take several tries, but eventually he’ll mimic you. The same goes for sounds you make, too. If you want him to say your name first, you better start those “Mamamamamamamama” noises when you two are chattering.
5) Bath Time Is Party Time
Not all kiddos love baths, but you stand a better chance if you make it fun. Let them splash while they’re still tiny. Don’t be afraid to climb into the tub with them. (Really. It’s the best!) Bring along cups, funnels, ladles and anything else that can hold and pour water.
6) Dance Time
By the end of your baby’s first year, she’ll probably be on her feet bouncing her bottom to any music she hears. (No worries if she doesn’t! Every babe develops differently.) Long before she’s dancing, though, she’ll still like watching you move. Even if you’re still just a colorful blob in her still-developing vision, she might laugh along as you do your best Beyonce moves while folding laundry in front of her swing.
7) What Is This Mess?
Babies love messes. Eventually you’ll have to teach them to not play with their food. Today, though, is not the day. If your child is developed enough to sit comfortably in their high chair, strap them in and give them a few dollops of colorful baby food. Let them slap, smoosh and smear it all over their tray.
8) Patty Cake
Playing patty cake not only develops your baby’s hand-eye coordination, it also teaches them rhythm and expectancy.
9) Where’s Your Nose?
Spending some early morning time snuggling in bed? Ask you baby, “Where’s your nose?” Then gently boop them and say, “There’s your nose!” Do this with all their body parts. They may not understand you for quite a while, but they’ll still enjoy your closeness, attention, and touch.
10) Put On A Puppet Show
Don’t even worry about story line this early in the game. If you need to, have your horse puppet tell off the pig puppet about leaving the toilet seat up, again. Let your princess puppet read from whatever book you’re trying to power through during nap times. All that’s important is that baby hears your voice and has something fun to focus on.
11) Texture Play
Is your baby pretty much surrounded by satin, lovey materials, minky blankets and some muslin? Find some burlap ribbon for her to finger or let him run fingers over your hairbrush bristles.
12) Rattle, Rattle, Who’s Got The Rattle?
Raise your hand if you’ve already attempted to put your baby to sleep with rhythmic rattle shakes! Once his eyesight has improved, however, use a rattle to help him work on following things. Shake the rattle in his line of sight, then move it and let him try to find it.
13) Rhymin’ Fool
Rhyming helps with speech development and gives baby the chance to learn rhythms and expectancy, again. Whether it’s Eminem, Mother Goose or Mama You, rhyme to your baby whenever you can.
14) Have A Ball
Your little boo might not be Nolan Ryan yet, but that doesn’t mean you two can’t have fun with a ball. Roll it around in front of him or let him watch you toss it into the air and catch it.
15) In and Out
Got a bucket? Got some colorful stuff? Work together to put stuff in the bucket and then take it back out.
During tummy time, hold a favorite toy over your baby’s head until they lift up to look at it. Then sit it down in front of them so they lower their heads, again. Repeat.
17) Sing. Sing A Song.
Just like rhyming, singing helps with speech development. Also, it’s just fun. Sing anything. Make up songs about folding laundry. Teach your sweetie the entire Miranda Lambert discography. They don’t care how terrible your voice is — they like it because it belongs to you.