Narrator: Your baby is never too young to play. It's a great way to bond – and besides being fun, playing fuels your baby's development.
Here are five great game ideas for babies from birth to 13 months. Each game helps your baby build important skills.
Pediatrician Mary Brown: Infants like a lot of different games, and so any games that really involve playing with the parents and looking at faces, moving their limbs, getting to hear different sounds or see different things, feeling different textures, these are all games that babies like to play.
Narrator: How do you know which games your baby will enjoy? It takes trial and error, but the skills he's working on right now will help you choose the best activities.
It's important to remember that each baby develops at a different pace. So if yours isn't ready for a particular activity, try again in a few weeks.
Baby game: Shaken, Stirred
Our first game is called Shaken, Stirred. It's great for babies from newborn to 3 months.
When your baby is lying on his back, hold a small rattle in front of his face and shake it gently. Move the rattle to one side of his face and shake it again, then to the other side of his face and shake it.
Your baby is too young to grab the rattle on his own, but if you put it in his hand, he may curl his fingers around it.
Brown: Shaken, Stirred is a good game for babies because it really addresses their visual development and also their hearing. It engages babies in looking at parents' faces, but also the toys that they're using. It helps them with motor development, too, as they reach out to grasp the rattle.
Baby game: Bike Ride
Narrator: Another good game for babies from newborn to 3 months is called Bike Ride.
Lay your baby on his back on the floor, couch, or changing table. Gently grasp each ankle and move your baby's legs in circles as if he's riding a bike. Bring your baby's knees close to his chest and stretch out one leg as you bring the other leg in. As you move your baby's legs, talk to him about what you're doing. Vary the speed, going faster and then slowing down. You can also reverse directions.
Brown: Bike Ride is a good game for babies because it really helps develop their muscle tone and their motor skills in their lower extremities, which then they'll need as they're starting to crawl and starting to pull to stand and starting to walk and cruise.
Talking to your baby during the game is really important for a variety of reasons. And one of the main reasons is that it really promotes language development overall. Talking to your baby during any game is really helpful in terms of babies just hearing new words and learning new words as they go along in life.
Baby game: Roll-Over Plan
Narrator: The next game, Roll-Over Plan, is ideal for babies from 2 to 6 months old. You can play it indoors, or outside when the weather is nice.
Brown: In the game Roll-Over Plan, you're going to help your baby roll over in order to move from one part of the blanket to the other. Starting in the middle you're going to put your baby on either her belly or on her back depending on how you guys want to start, and then help her roll over from the middle to the edge of a blanket or to the edge of the grass if you're outside playing. And then back to the middle, and then to the other side, and back to the middle.
Roll-Over Plan is a good game for babies especially before they can crawl and walk because it actually allows them to move. It also helps them develop the muscles and the strength that they're going to need to be able to roll over on their own. It can help them explore new areas.
Baby game: Where’s My Toy?
Narrator: Another good game for older babies is called Where's My Toy? This is ideal for babies 4 months to a year.
Brown: So to play Where's My Toy?, you'll get a toy that your child likes and show it to them and then hide it by putting it in a box or several boxes or behind a blanket or behind a toy, and then helping your child try to find the toy.
Parents should talk to their babies and be very excited about trying to find the toy. "Where's the toy? Where's the toy? Let's find the toy!" – getting babies really excited about trying to find this toy that they really like. And when they do find the toy making a great big deal out of it, very excited that they found the toy.
Where's My Toy? is a good game for babies, especially the older babies, as it teaches them object permanence, which is the concept where once something that's in front of them when it goes away, doesn't mean that it it's gone forever, so a toy, a parent, when they go away, they come back.
Baby game: Kick Start
Narrator: Our last game is great for babies from about 8 to 13 months old. It's called Kick Start, and it's fun to play with another adult and baby – at a playdate, for instance.
Brown: So, Kick Start is a game for babies so that parents can help them kick balls in front of them. Mom or Dad should hold them under their arms or supported so that their legs can be free to kick a ball that's in front of them. It's good to use a light plastic ball – something that isn't too heavy or can hurt the baby when they're kicking it.
This is a good game to also play with other babies because they can kick the ball to the other baby and then the other baby can kick it back.
Kick Start is a good game for babies because it works on their motor development. It helps them strengthen the muscles in their legs, which will be important for when they want to start crawling, when they want to pull themselves up to stand and cruise along furniture and then eventually for walking and running.
Narrator: Of course, there are many, many more great games to play with your baby. Search "baby games" on our site for more ideas. And have fun!