Finding ways to play with your baby doesn’t necessarily require a trip to the toy store. Review our list of great fun things to do with your little one for inspiration and simple ways to enjoy your time together.
As I new mom, I fretted over my baby’s firsts—her first bath, the first feeding, the first steps. Looking back, I realize I missed some of the joy of our time together because I was so focused on whether I was doing things “right.” I charted my baby’s development by reading books about what she should be doing and when. Days at the park sometimes became comparison-shopping sessions—why wasn’t my daughter walking or talking as well as the little girl who looked about the same age?
Not that I was a pro the second time around, but when it came to enjoying my baby, I threw out the growth chart, sat down with my new little one, and prepared myself to get messy.
Are you ready for a few fun things to do with your baby—no shopping required? Here’s a list of 10 things you and your baby can do together—and each one is sure to bring smiles to both your faces.
Is bath time becoming a bore? Use the suds from your baby’s shampoo to transform him into a unicorn, rock star, even Jimmy Neutron. Make sure to bring a plastic mirror so that your baby can see himself, too. Use the suds to paint the sides of the bathtub with bubbles or capture the bubbles in cups to make secret potions.
Your baby probably loves to be cuddled, but she might also enjoy babying you. Just like you tuck her in at night, try playing pretend and let her do the tucking. Let her snuggle the blanket around you, even sing you a lullaby. You might be surprised how much your baby likes the role reversal. When you’re done playing baby, encourage her to use a doll or teddy bear instead.
Blanket Ride Boogie
Does your baby love his blanket? How about a blanket ride? Place your little guy on the middle of the blanket and pull him around the room. Babies love to see familiar toys used in new ways—when he’s done traveling, play peek-a-boo with the blanket.
Babies love to look at pictures, so how about baby pictures of you? Pull out a scrapbook and look at the pictures together. Point out the fun things you liked to do when you were little. No scrapbooks? Try your high school yearbook. That’s right, your baby will be thrilled to hear stories about your prom date or the detention you didn’t deserve—the more animated you make the story, the better.
Amazing Action Songs
There’s a reason most parents know every verse to “The Wheels on the Bus” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”—babies love songs with finger movements. Try personalizing the songs for added fun, singing “The Wheels on Daddy’s Truck,” for instance. If you haven’t yet been introduced to the classic children’s songs, or you need to brush up, check out a children’s song CD at the library or sign up for baby singing time (available at most libraries). Our Offbeat Guide to Kids’ Music may give you more ideas for sing- and act-along songs.
Walks and Talks
The next time you take your baby for a walk, bring a bag with you. If your child is old enough, let her collect things along the way. If not, simply collect a few things yourself. When you get home, tape the items in a notebook or even a see-through container. Let your baby hold the items and talk to her about your walk together.
Finger Food Fun
Playing with your food doesn’t have to be bad. Use food to play games. See how many crackers you can stack before they fall. Pretend to be in the sea with your goldfish. Use instant pudding to make drawings on waxed paper. Try making necklaces from Froot Loops or Cheerios and string. The best part about playing with food is the cleanup—you can eat it all!
Bird Watching for Baby
Sit back in a chair with your baby on your lap and look out the window. Talk to your baby about what you’re seeing. Point out the clouds and the shapes. You might put a few pieces of broken up bread outside to attract birds. Watch your baby giggle and coo while the birds flutter past.
Reading “Finger” Books
Babies sometimes won’t sit through an entire book—unless you add some fun. Choose easy reader books at the library instead of storybooks for quick, simple stories. Have your baby follow along in the story with his finger. Easy reader books contain basic words and bright pictures that are sure to hold a little one’s interest. Before long, he’ll probably be following with his finger on his own.
Snooze and Snuggle
Tough day? Join your baby for her afternoon nap. Study her tiny features, and her fingers and toes as she rests. Take time to remember how wonderful she is—while she’s not crying and you’re relaxed. Let the dishes and phone calls wait while you snooze happily together.
Ready to have fun with your baby? Use these suggestions as a place to start. Before long, you’ll not only be inventing games together, but you may find that your baby is the best listener you’ve ever met.