Best Baby Activities and Games: Birth to 12 Months
There are hundreds of games and activities you play with your baby.
However, what are some of the best games that you can play with your baby in the first twelve months? We have listed our eight favorite baby games and activities for your child during this critical period. There is a great chance you already know these games and probably play them. We selected them based on development importance and amusement factor.
We have provided a summary of each game below, along with links to more detailed pages. Some of these games are good options when flying with a baby.
Best Baby Games for 0-3 Months
Since proper head support and control is extremely important for your baby's development, tummytime is our favorite baby activity. Place your baby on her tummy with her head to one side. It helps to lie on the floor next to your baby to provide encouragement and so you are face to face. Until your baby has the strength to lift her head and switch sides, have her spend equal time facing each way. Gradually build up the amount of tummytime you provide each day. Eventually, she will be able to lift her head and push up on her arms - this leads to rolling and eventually crawling.
Copycat is a great imitation game you can play with your baby from the infant stages. It will strengthen emotional bond with your baby as well has help him with movement coordination. Hold your baby closely or lie him down on a soft flat surface. Be sure to be close enough (8-12 inches) so that he can see you, especially for infants. Face-to-face, start with small movements, like sticking out your tongue or opening your mouth in a wide grin. If you are patient, your baby may try to imitate you, though with very small movements. As your baby gets older, you can try larger body movements with your head or hands and arms.
Best Baby Games for 3-6 Months
Besides Tummytime, Peekaboo is another very important development baby game since it introduces the concept of object permanence - objects and people exist even though your baby cannot see them. It also good for your baby's memory and anticipation skills. Place your baby seated or lying position so you have his attention. Next, simply put your hands over your face and say, "Where's Mommy?" After a second or two, remove your hands with a smile and say "Peek A Boo!" or "Here I am!" As your baby gets older, you can adjust the game by using a sheet to cover your face - then let your baby pull the sheet off and say "Peek A Boo!" Your baby may even elect to initiate the game himself by covering his own face then revealing himself with a laugh!
Simple Baby Reading
All parents should read to their babies, most do. 4-5 months is a practical time, since your baby probably has better neck support by this time. Reading clearly builds language and vocabulary skills as well as cognitive abilities. It is best to start with a very simple book, usually with a single picture per page and very simple text, almost like flash cards. You can initially point out facts ("There's a dog." "Look, a red apple."). As your baby gets older (6+ months), you can pose a question, then answer it ("What is that? It's a dog!"). Your baby will likely have a short attention span and may want to chew on the book, but be patient. It is best to start with smaller board books with thicker pages. As he gets older, you can switch to cloth based books that are easier for him to turn the pages.
Best Baby Games for 6-9 Months
The six month time period is a good time to start doing baby signs with your baby. It helps with your baby's cognitive abilities and memory - also, believe it or not, signing has been shown to help communication and language development! There are many flash cards, books, and DVDs that cover baby signing exclusively. Some of the most important signs you can introduce early are "more" (while feeding), "eat", "bottle time", and "all done". You can make up your own signs for each object or action you are introducing. The important part is to be consistent. As you continue to use these, your baby may start signing to you in the next couple of months!
Playing Make Believe
Make Believe is a very fun baby activity that will help build your baby's social awareness and creativity. While you may feel silly playing make believe, babies tend to love this activity. This is an activity you will likely continue to play with your baby through his toddler years. You may already engage in many Make Believe activities. Just think of the many things you routinely do each day. For example, you can have an imaginary phone call with your baby or where you answer the phone and say it's for him. Or you can have an imaginary tea party and meal with your baby. You can even sit with your baby at the computer and let him type, encouraging his "work". Use your creativity, but it does not have to be complicated. Your baby will learn to imitate you, so why not make a game of it?
Best Baby Games for 9-12 Months
Creating an obstacle course for your baby can really help his movement coordination and confidence while he learns to both crawl and walk. You will need an array of objects like pillows, boxes, blocks, or chairs to create an obstacle course. Using your props, you can create two different kinds of courses. The first is a navigation type course, much like a maze. It is easier to utilize natural barriers such as couches or walls. You can help him navigate by crawling ahead. The second type of course is the true obstacle course, which requires him to climb over various items such as pillows or cushions. You can create this by placing the obstacles between two natural barriers or surrounding your baby with the soft items. Make sure you start off easy so it is not so daunting!
Tower building is a great baby activity to develop your baby's motor skill and cognitive problem solving abilities. Of course, once it goes up, your baby will want it to come down! You will need larger (at least 5 inch sides) blocks, softer ones for a younger child. You can also make your own out of thin cardboard, just be sure to smooth any edges. Sit your baby on the floor with all the blocks. Initially, you will probably need to help or build the tower yourself. Show him how you stack them one by one. As he gets older, encourage him to do it himself or alternate between you. Once the tower is three blocks or higher, let her knock it over and say, "All gone!" Repeat the activity until he gets weary of the game. As your baby gets older and more adept at the activity, start using smaller blocks to help develop his dexterity even more.