Simple Ideas for Playing with Your Baby in the First Year
For newborns and young babies, almost everything they do is playing.
Playing helps them develop their motor skills and vocabulary and recognize colors. It's also a wonderful bonding time with caregivers.
Some of our baby play ideas may even help keep your little one occupied for a few minutes while mommy or daddy get a chore done.
Newborn to 6-months
There are moments between diaper changes, feedings, and naps when your newborn will be awake and alert and absorbing their surroundings. For them, every experience is fresh, and every activity or interaction, no matter how small, enables them to learn and bond.
Babies pay special attention to the sound of human voices, especially during the first month. So it's important to talk to your baby. It's fun to see how your little one reacts to different tones of your voice. You may even notice them responding by moving their arms and legs.
Make Funny Faces
Newborn babies are naturally fascinated by facial expressions. So play with them by making funny faces. The sillier and more exaggerated, the better! Smile, stick your tongue out, roll your eyes, and wiggle your head, especially while changing diapers.
Get up close so your little one can see your features. Your heart will explode with joy the first time your little one responds with a big toothless grin.
It's also fun to stand in front of a mirror with your little one in your arms, make funny faces and point out body parts like your nose, eyes, and ears.
Newborns adore hearing your voice. So read to them early and often. Read children’s storybooks, celebrity magazines, the back of the cereal box - whatever you want. It doesn't matter what you read!
Listen to Music & Sing
Humans have soothed babies with music for time immemorial. Clap your hands, clap their hands, dance, and gently sway to the tunes! Listening to music or singing together is one of the most pleasant ways to bond with an infant.
Let them Explore Textures and Surfaces
Enable your newborn to experience different tactile sensations by giving them tummy time on differently textured surfaces such as a really smooth blanket or straw mat, or one of our favorites- the grass outside! Allow them to safely touch their surroundings to learn about soft, bumpy, flat, cool, and warm feelings. You'll likely have as much fun as your little one watching them explore.
Play Tracking Games
Your baby's vision will continually develop in the first year. You can encourage them by moving something eye-catching, like their favorite toy on an arc in front of them, and encourage them to follow it with their eyes.
Around 6-months old, your baby will be able to sit up without support. Once this happens, the play possibilities expand. Your little one will enjoy sensory play at this age, which includes just about any activity that stimulates a child's senses through new and exciting experiences.
Make a Stuffy Bin
Fill a shallow bin, cardboard box, or even a paddling pool with stuffed animals then pop your little in and let them use their senses to explore the different types of fur, fabrics, sizes, and colors.
Make DIY Sensory Bags
Sensory bags are a fun way to introduce young toddlers to many fascinating feelings. They enable your little one to explore the world of textures without the worry of having them eat your hair gel.
Here are some great ideas for creating accessible and affordable DIY sensory bags with items you likely have around the house.
A dry bath is a fantastic play idea for when you need to do a crazy thing like blow-dry your hair or clean the toilet. Simply plop your little one in the bathtub with their favorite toys.
Balls Balls Balls
Find all the balls in the house and put them in a shallow laundry basket, and let them explore the sizes, shapes, and textures. Or place them in a cardboard box full of balls!
Babies start to recognize themselves in a mirror around 6-months old. Sut in front of a mirror with them and smile, laugh, clap, sing songs with motions, make funny voices, or play Peek a Boo.
Make a Music Tray
A simple baby music bin creates a tremendous sensory experience. Fill a tray with rattles, plastic bottles, or jars of rice with a secure lid, noisemakers, spoons, and anything else you can think of that makes noise.
Make a Tugging Box
Children are naturally prone to pull at things and to see what happens. And they don't tire of it. No matter how many times they get the same outcome, they will continue to experiment.
Make a simple tugging box with items you have around the house like a shoebox, various lengths of ribbon or pipe cleaners, and sticky tape.
Here is a blog outlining how to make a simple tugging box.
We hope these simple suggestions will help you bond with your little one and bring you both joy!
From our families to yours,
Joana + Lauren