While some people may be under the impression that babies are incapable of doing much more than eating, pooping and sleeping, it’s never too soon to start playing games and activities with your child, helping him or her to reach communication, feeding, motor and sensory milestones. While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that parents spend just 64 hours playing with their children under six months of age, it’s time to increase that amount – after all, it can be fun for not only baby but for mom and dad too.
1 What’s That?
Early playtime often involves showing your baby various objects and explaining what it is. While they may not understand what you’re saying, simply talking is not only enjoyable to your infant, it helps to enhance cognitive development. All you’ll do is point out different things, holding each item, one at a time about a foot in front of baby’s face. For example, you might show him an apple and say, “This is a red apple, yum!” Babies tend to love books and magazines with pictures as well as colorful shapes and fabrics.
2 Shake and Rattle
Fill up empty water bottles or other empty bottles with things that make noise and are interesting, like buttons, rice or dry beans, and then add a bit of color with food dye or liquid dish soap. Just be sure the lid is secure. If you have a crawler, the baby will love chasing after it as it rolls across the floor.
3 Explore the Outdoors
Getting out in the fresh air is great for parents and a baby. Head to your backyard or a local park and let your child feel the leaves on the trees, the grass and other natural objects that are around while you explain what it is. By providing a narrative, when the baby is old enough he’ll start to pick up some of the words, connecting them to objects.
Peekaboo is a game that nearly all babies love and will likely continue to love through the toddler years and beyond. That’s because they enjoy being surprised while learning that even though they may not see something, it still exists. Cover your face with your hands and then reveal it, or use a blanket to cover a toy while asking, “What happened to the toy? Where is it?”
5 Shadow Puppets
Shadow puppets are something parents have been doing for decades. Use your hands and get creative!
6 Animal Sounds
Point out various animal images and then make the sound that the animal in the picture makes. This is another one that won’t get old for some time to come.
7 Ball Bouncing
Search for balls with different colors and textures. When the baby is old enough you can teach him to drop, bounce and roll them while talking about their colors and how they feel.
8 This Little Piggy
This well-loved nursery game is all about baby’s toes. Start with the big one saying, “This little piggy went to 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.” During the last sentence, tickle baby’s tummy – it’s a great way to distract him during a diaper change.
When baby can hold his head up, it’s time to play helicopter, lifting him up over your head before quickly bringing him back.
Collect a variety of different scents, like kitchen spices and flowers, and then hold them under baby’s nose, explaining what each one is and getting an understanding of which smells baby likes.
Once your baby has reached the age when it’s time for potting training, you’ll find a whole new set of activities to enjoy after researching all those potty training resources to make the entire process easier for you and your child.