You did it! You brought a little bundle of joy into the world, and now she brightens your day like nothing else can. She is growing more and more every day, and so is her intelligence. Playing games with your baby can help to encourage the growth of that intelligence -- not to mention entertain her. Games are a great way to bond and also help her brain develop, calm her down when she is upset, and just generally keep her happy, healthy, and feeling loved.
Peek-a-book is a staple baby game going back generations. Parents (and friends of parents, and aunts, and uncles, and grandparents) have all engaged in this simple game. Just put your hands up to cover your face, then move them aside and say "peek-a-boo!" To the child, it appears that you have been hiding, only to reappear seconds later when she thought you had gone. This game is especially fun for infants, who are just learning how the world (and existence) works.
Pat-a-cake, also known as patty cake or paddy cake, is a simple rhyming game often paired with hand clapping and miming while the parents and children recite this nursery rhyme: "Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can. Pat it, and prick it, and mark it with B, And put it in the oven for Baby and me!" This game works best with babies who are a bit older and more alert, who have some hand-eye coordination for the clapping portion.
Nearly every child on earth has a set of blocks. A very young baby can find hours of fun playing with foam blocks. Infants can watch as their parents show them how to build things, and when they get a bit older, they can begin to construct towers themselves. These activities help increase logic skills, not to mention knocking-things-over skills.
Some baby games can be as simple as just holding your baby securely on your lap and bouncing her up and down on your knees. This is a perfect way to bond -- she can watch and listen to you as you play. You can also add in a nursery rhyme or a silly song to keep her attention. This helps develop language skills even at such a young age. She might not be able to talk yet, but that doesn't mean she isn't listening and thinking!
"Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream." This is another oldie but goodie that goes way back. When your baby is lying on her back on the floor, gently pull her up into a sitting position by her arms. Then, recite the nursery rhyme as you move her arms in a circular, rowing motion as if she is rowing the boat.
No matter a baby's age, they are bound to get a kick out of their parent playing with their feet. For this game, start by lightly pinching or wiggling one of her big toes. Then recite the age-old rhyme: "This little piggie went to market. This little piggie stayed home; this little piggie had roast beef; this little piggie had none. This little piggie cried 'wee wee wee' all the way home." Each piggie corresponds to another toe, ending with the pinky toe. Bonus points for using a silly voice while you play!
Babies should never be left unattended around water, but that doesn't mean they can't enjoy a bath with your full supervision! Play splish splash in the tub or the sink by gently splashing bits of comfortably warm water on your baby. She will love the ticklish feeling of the water, and you are sure to get a lot of laughs. You can even fill up a shallow kiddie pool and play splish splash outside!
Even serious adults have been known to enjoy a nice tickle fight from time to time. Tickling is one of the first ways you can express your affection with your baby and keep her laughing for hours. Just tickle her under the chin or on the belly or in her little armpits with the tips of your fingers, taking care not to push too hard. You'll know you're doing it right when she bursts into uncontrollable giggles!
Babies (and even grownups) adore stuffed animals. Make up games with the animals or have them kiss or tickle your baby until she is old enough to play with them herself. Use your imagination! Give the stuffed animal a goofy voice or make it walk across the table toward the baby. Better yet, use two stuffed animals and have a conversation. The possibilities are endless here, and best of all, most stuffed animals can stay with the baby in her crib even after playtime is over.
Most babies love bouncing games, and parents will love that this one involves a bit of a workout. Remember that old exercise ball you had for home workouts? Fill it up and sit on it while you bounce the baby up and down on your lap. This is a great way to entertain her while also getting a bit of a lower body workout. Just be sure not to bounce too high -- baby isn't ready for that, yet!
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