For many parents, watching their baby sleep, holding them, and kissing their chubby cheeks is everything. But before long, your baby becomes more active and interested in what is going on around her. According to Jan Blaxall, a professor of early childhood education at Fanshawe College in London, your baby learns the world around them through play.
It’s also through play that they get to work on their motor skills, build muscle strength, and learn to talk and understand words. Most importantly, playing with your child helps the two of you bond and know each other more.
If your play ideas end after one round of ‘This Little Piggy,’ here are some fun games you can add to the mix to ramp up that boring repertoire.
1. Splish splash
There is nothing like water to make a baby more relaxed and joyful. Feel free to enjoy bath time to the maximum as long as the room is not cold. You can add rubber duckies and other splash toys in the bathwater and make bathing time more fun. You can also use rubber cups and spoons to show them how to scoop and pour water.
Imagine living in a diaper 24 hours a day. Instead of dressing them immediately after a bath or diaper change, you can take advantage of those 10 minutes and have some naked playtime. Apply some oil all over her buttocks, massage her back, tickle her legs. Not only will this prevent diaper rash, but you will see the joy on her face when she starts kicking up her legs and laughing.
The oldest game in the world is still as effective as ever. Cover your face with your hands and then let go as you say ‘peekaboo.’ Your baby will be surprised as well as entertained. You can also squat below the bed and then get up to surprise them. Sometimes you can even hide her toy and ask, ‘where did it go?’ before enthusiastically revealing it to her.
4. Sensory play
Sensory play helps babies to learn about cause and effects, develop their brains, and stimulate their senses. You can use foamy bubbles in a bathtub, jiggling jell-O, or sponge bombs to play. As your baby runs their fingers through these textures, their sense of discovery and exploration is satisfied.
5. Reading and singing
Yes, playing does not have to involve toys and excitement. You can sing kindergarten songs and read to your baby from the time they are conceived until they learn to read. Remember, babies and young children are like sponges, they soak up every sound and every movement. Listening to your voice is soothing and helps with language development. When they are a bit older, you can take it a notch higher and start telling stories using dramatic cues.
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The important thing when playing with a baby is not the toys or the objects you are using. What makes it fun is your presence, your participation, and, most importantly, your enthusiasm. Take turns to play each game, mix them up, and be on the lookout for cues that the baby is tired. Loss of interest, yawning and looking away are some visible signs that it’s time for a nap or at the very least a break from the games.