Infants 9-12 Months

Play Ideas for babies: first year

Play Ideas for babies: first year
Published : October 17 , 2015
Latest Update : February 17 , 2022
Sirsa A. Qursha’s background is in Child Development & Parent Education. Sirsa has over 10 years of experience in directly working with... more

Baby is captivated by all sorts of sound, light, and movement in her first year of life.  She’s soaking in all the strange and unusual happenings around her, making every day—and every activity—an opportunity for playing and learning.  When intentionally engaging her in play, involve games that stimulate her auditory and tactile/physical senses.  Browse through the fun list of ideas below and start playing with your wee little babe today:

  • Bubbles: Whether soaking up some vitamin D on the veranda or playing indoor games, baby loves when you blow bubbles for her.
  • Dance: Cue up mom’s favorite song or a baby sing-a-long tune and move to the beat!  Mom will love the extra cuddle time, and babe will probably get a kick out of gently twirling around the room in mom’s arms.
  • Photo album: Get out pictures of loved ones near and far and explain who everyone is.  Baby might not understand at first, but overtime she’ll begin to recognize the familiar faces.  Think about making your own baby book out of large, close-up pictures of loved ones smiling, laughing, or making silly faces.
  • Face to face: At around 3 weeks old, baby knows her mama’s face.  She loves to watch the way you move your eyebrows up and down, how your lips open and close when you talk to her, and the adoring faces you give her as she coos.  Enjoy peering into her eyes as you smile and sing her songs.  No doubt this ends up being mom’s favorite game.
  • Play music: You can create musical instruments out of anything!  Try a wooden spoon on plastic bowls or a big pot.  Babe will love hearing sounds echo from her pounding object against object.  And mom, why not do a little jig to baby’s fun new sounds?  If you have a piano (toy or real), baby will love slapping the keys even from a very early age.  Make sure to applause for your little musician!
  • Move rattles and noisemakers in front of your baby’s face and shake them to a beat as you slowly sound out syllables or sing a song with a distinct rhythm.  This is a great game that involves learning through auditory and visual senses.
  • Massage: Massage your baby when she’s in a good mood and you’re in a warm room.  This is a special way to bond and can help babe get better sleep, improve her circulation, and ease stomach pain.
  • Picnic: Babies enjoy going outdoors.  Plan a family picnic in a place baby can explore and get close to nature.  Explain everything around her: flowers, trees, grass, dirt, ants, and butterflies.  And don’t be afraid to let her get a little dirty.
  • Peekaboo: Playing Peekaboo is a sure way to get big giggles from your babe.  At first, you’ll be the one hiding and reappearing.  But after a few days or weeks, baby will want to hide herself!  Once she starts, she might not want to stop.  Have fun!
  • Light play: Play with lights in a dark room.  Try a flashlight, laser pointer, a globe or mobile that lights up, or even glow-in-the-dark stickers and toys.  This will stimulate and amuse baby.
  • Swimming: Most babies enjoy getting in the water even when they are very little.  Of course make sure you hold her tight and never leave her alone or in the care of a young child.
  • Read to your baby: You can start reading to your baby from her first day of life.  The sooner you start, the sooner she’ll become accustomed to books as a way of life and fun.  Choose age-appropriate books that have contrasting colors and images.  Some books even make funny sounds or have different textures for baby to touch and stroke.
  • Textures: Introduce textures to your baby by intentionally touching all sorts of items and materials.  Some favorites are cotton, wool, feathers, plastic, leather, and anything slimy or sticky.  As baby touches and explores, explain what each thing means or does.
  • Rolling your baby: your baby might really enjoy the sensation of being gently rolled back and forth.  Of course use a soft surface, and never roll baby on a table or countertop.
  • Mirror play: Talk, wave, and dance with your baby in front of a big mirror.  Babe will love looking at the light and reflection, and she’ll be pretty intrigued to see two mamas at one time!
  • Take a walk: Get out the stroller and go for a walk with baby.  It’s great exercise for you, and baby will enjoy the motion of riding in the stroller while taking in all sorts of sights and sounds.
  • Play with balls: Big, small, smooth, soft, hard—babies love playing with all sorts of balls!  Roll it toward her, away from her, drop it from higher up, and dribble it around her.  This is a great way for baby to observe, explore, and get exercise all at the same time.

  Play is about fun and giggles.  When baby is this small, you don’t even have to be too creative to make almost anything into a game!  Laugh while you play, and babe will be quick to engage.


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