by Pregnancy.org Staff
The games you play with your baby help her brain to develop just as the food she eats helps her body grow. You'll want to give her lots of opportunity for mental stimulation this first year. That doesn't mean you need to rush out and buy "educational" toys. You are your baby's favorite toy! All you need to do is play with your baby and talk about the world around her.
Here are some play time tips:
- Choose the right time. Don't try to initiate play when your baby is hungry, tired or fussy. It's better to wait for a time when he is alert and quiet.
- His abilities are limited at this stage of development. You are his best toy. He is counting on you to be the entertainment.
- Take advantage of his fascination with faces and get in close. Make exaggerated faces, stick out your tongue. He may surprise you by sticking his tongue out at you or you might be rewarded by a bubble of giggles.
- Talk and sing to your baby. Use a deep growly voice sometimes and a high pitched squeaky one others. Which does he prefer? You'll use this skill in the months to come as you play peekaboo, read stories and pretend with your child.
- Follow his lead when he initiates games such as "toss the toy off the highchair." He may be learning about the law of gravity or he might be learning how many times you will pick it up. There is an idea for this game below.
- Pay attention when he signals he is tired of playing. Indications that he is finished are looking away or fussing.
Finger Plays and Puppet Action Games
Put on a baby-friendly finger puppet or two. Have them dance and sing. She will be mesmerized by the motion. Don't be surprised if she reaches out, grabs one and puts in her mouth or she might just giggle or stare.
Your puppets can have a conversation where first one talks and then the other, or you can talk with one.
They can interact with your baby, nuzzle or tickle her.
Follow That Light!
Beams of light are amazing to your little one. He may try to pick it up or move a foot into or out of the beam.
Expand the game by making a color filter with tissue paper and a rubber band. You can put on a private light show by dimming the room's lighting and moving the flash light beam slowly over the walls, turning it off and back on. Be sure to keep a running commentary..."Where is the light? Oh, there it is; over by the door."
Pick It Up!
Baby's discovered that things still exist, even when they're out of sight. An amazing find! Why she can drop a toy from the highchair, point and "eh!" and someone will pick it up so she can drop it again. When you grow weary of this came try this variation. Tie a string to a toy. Fasten the other end to the high chair. Show your daughter how she can pull on the string to make her toy reappear. She'll drop and retrieve over and over. Keep it fun by joining in with remarks. "Where is Katie's rattle?" "Is it all gone?" "Oh there it is! Katie found it!"
You might be able to clear the table or fill the dishwasher while she experiments with this novel retrieval system.
Be sure and put the string away after play time. Never leave you baby alone with strings or ribbons.
That's My Drawer
Give your baby his own drawer in the kitchen (or shelf or box) Fill it with wooden spoons, nesting measuring cups, plastic or metal bowls, lids, an empty paper towel roll, jar rings, etc.
When you're busy in the kitchen he can be busy in his own drawer. As an extra surprise you can put a few cheerios in one of the bowls!
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