Babies might not be quite ready for playing hide and seek (despite their older siblings’ best efforts), but play activities for babies can be just as fun. Their smiles and gurgles will be enough to show you that your baby activities are keeping them stimulated and happy – which means mum and dad are happy too.
Whether it’s gentle play with newborns, or messy activities for babies coming to the end of their first year, this guide lays out some creative and educational ideas for activities with babies that the whole family can have fun with.
Don’t worry if things get messy, that’s all part of the fun. Just keep some extra-absorbent kitchen paper to hand to mop up any spills and wipe sticky fingers.
Activities to do with babies in the first 4 months
Very young babies are unlikely to have developed the strength to sit up by themselves yet, so these activity ideas for babies under four months can all be done while they’re lying down, or while you’re holding them.
Put on some music that has a gentle melody but a strong beat, and hold the baby in your arms, moving gently along to the rhythm with them. Help older siblings feel involved with baby activities and keep them entertained by turning music time into a game of musical chairs.
Get your little one’s attention with a brightly coloured toy (or another baby-safe object). Slowly and gently, move it around in front of their face and encourage them to follow it with their gaze.
Play roll-the-toy. Take a round toy and gently roll it around your baby as they lie on the baby mat. They’ll love watching it, and if your baby has started to develop their hand-eye coordination they will enjoy reaching out and interacting with it.
Baby activities at 4-6 months
It’s all about movement. At this crucial time when babies are learning to sit and move independently, movement-based activity ideas for babies are key. As preparation for crawling, have them lie face-down on a blanket and move the blanket slowly and gently around the room. Feel free to add some silly noises to keep them engaged, and to make the game fun for older siblings to get involved with.
Communication is important now, too… Singing is a great way to engage little brains, so make up some rhymes and encourage your baby to mimic you. Experiment with pitch and facial expressions to see what they prefer to respond to. If they start a ‘conversation’ during these baby activities, be sure to respond and encourage two-way communication.
Say peek-a-boo. Peek-a-boo is one of the most popular play activities for babies for a reason. Not only is it fun for the whole family to play, but it also starts to teach your little one that an object (or person!) continues to exist, even if they can only partially see it. Learning about object permanence is an important baby development milestone , and now’s the perfect time to start working on it.
Play activities for babies: 7-12 months
Encourage spatial awareness. Ideas for activities with babies that involve spatial awareness are ideal at this stage. Find a container with a long, narrow opening (like an empty Cushelle facial tissue box). Put a few toys inside that are just smaller than the opening and watch your little one learn what fits inside and how to get it out.
Get messy at mealtimes. Your baby will be beginning to eat solid food, and what better way for them to become acquainted with it than to get really messy? Messy activities for babies are best kept edible at this age, and it’ll help them develop positive associations with food. Let them squidge soft food (like bananas) between their fingers as they discover how to aim for their mouths.
These play activities for babies will contribute to their development of important skills, such as listening, special awareness and motor skills. But just as crucially, they’ll help teach your baby to have fun, and it’ll help you and the rest of your family bond with them.
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