Babies have so much to learn – and you can make it fun for you and your little one. Create baby fun by playing with your baby to encourage your baby’s development throughout your day.
At birth, a baby’s five senses are working, and before you know it, your young child is off to explore using all of those senses. As your baby grows, she becomes more curious—and that curiosity is never satisfied. She throws herself into the business of learning. Through her observations and experiences, she learns about her world. This learning is called play.
From dawn to dusk, there are learning experiences through play that will help your baby develop physically and mentally. Get started on a learning journey with these enjoyable and entertaining activities as you go through your days with baby.
Morning is a wonderful time of the day. Make it special as you sing this song to your baby about everyone in your household, including the family pets. As your baby hears you sing, he will begin to understand that singing is another way to use his voice and in time he will learn the words you sing through repetition. Sing this traditional song to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”
Good morning to you,
Good morning to you,
Good morning dear sister,
Good morning to you!
Repeat this song, singing to all members of your family. Include grandparents and the family pets—and don’t forget to sing to your baby, too!
At breakfast, you and your baby can play the “Cereal Game” at his high chair. This simple game teaches valuable skills such as finger dexterity and eye-hand coordination. Show your little one how to put a piece of breakfast cereal into a plastic bottle. Encourage him to dump it out, then put it back. Invite your child to hold the bottle and to try to get the cereal out. If this is too hard for him, use a paper cup instead. Let him eat the cereal if he wishes, then put another piece of cereal in the bottle or cup, and try the game again.
Your little one will spend a lot of time in his high chair or at the table; enjoy some of this time together as you and your baby play a fun finger tapping game. Start your own fingers tapping on the table in front of you. Encourage your baby to imitate you. Develop great tapping rhythms. Tap slowly; tap fast; tap one hand, then two; tap raising your hands high; tap with just one finger. Be creative and watch your child catch on to your game.
Is it exercise or just play? Creative movement with your young child is fun and a rewarding experience for both of you. Create an interesting obstacle course. Gather together several towels, small pillows, and stuffed toys on the floor in different sized piles. Now top these with a blanket or a large sheet. Baby will enjoy this new terrain with things to creep around, over, and push off from—a challenging obstacle course for a small person. One of your baby’s greatest pleasures will be you imitating his style. So, get down on all fours—your child will take the lead and look to see if you are following. He’ll squeal with delight as you chase and follow him around the room. “Here I come; I’m going to catch you!” Don’t fail to hug and hold him close after he’s been caught.
Your baby delights in mimicking other people’s gestures. He can be caught scolding his teddy bear just as you might scold him. You can turn this skill into a hilarious game by playing “Make Me a Silly Face.” A mirror will help your little one get the nose wrinkle, wink, or frown just right. You may find him in front of the mirror some days later playing this funny-face game by himself, with a toy, or with a newfound friend.
Infants benefit by having someone sing to them and dance or walk rhythmically while holding them. Babies often move their arms and feet when being swayed to music; later they will be able to feel and move to the beat of the music by themselves.
Even before your child can walk very well, she can begin to make music. Have her sit on the floor and explore the sounds of drumming on pots, pans, and bowls with wooden spoons or other safe household utensils. Children can also be given various musical toys, such as a xylophone, piano, triangle, bells, maracas, drums, and tambourines on which to play. In this way, they begin to learn about the sound of music and, in a very rudimentary way, to create their own music.
Check the recycle bin, sewing box, and drawers for items to make a “see and sound” rattle for your little one. Take a clean plastic water bottle, putting in colorful ribbons, feathers, beads, bells, uncooked rice or pasta. Run a bead of permanent glue along the lid or seal the top securely with duct tape. As your baby shakes this instrument, she can see pretty objects and hear unique sounds.
Here’s a game to teach your youngster the difference between up and down. Help your little one raise her body up and up until she is on her tiptoes. Repeat the word, “up, up, up” as you do this movement. Now, have her lower her body to the floor, “down, down, down.” Repeat this game as often as your child likes.
Before dark, hold your baby in your arms and go on a texture walk outside. Encourage your child to notice all of the things you see and help him “feel” the objects as you describe them. Find and describe things that are rough, sticky, smooth, soft, hard, prickly, silky, tickly, and bumpy. Let your baby spend time enjoying his sensory exploration, but protect him from anything dangerous.
Sing this song that reinforces the senses used on your texture walk to the tune of “The Mulberry Bush.”
This is the way my fingers touch,
Fingers touch, fingers touch.
This is the way my fingers touch
On my nature walk this evening.
Add other verses as you walk along, talking about what your eyes see, nose smells, and ears hear.
At the end of the day, you may wish to sing a lullaby to help your baby nod off to sleep. This song shows how animals take care of their young as well. Tuck your little one in for the night the same way animals put their babies to sleep. Sing this song with a soft voice and whisper the animal sounds. Use the tune, “Frčre Jacques,” (“Are You Sleeping”).
Mother dog, mother dog,
Sings to her puppy, sings to her puppy,
Woof, woof, woof,
Woof, woof, woof,
Sleep baby puppy, sleep baby puppy.
Continue with other verses about animals and their babies.
Good night—sleep tight!