11 Fun Playtime Developmental Activities You Can Do With Your Baby
Learning and teaching don’t have to be boring. We believe that learning, growing and developing can be fun for you and baby. That first year is full of so many changes in your little one’s abilities. Fun activities can go a long way to coaching along your little one’s growth and development.
Below you’ll find a list of a eleven easy, fun, delightful activities for you and your little one to share. Most of them will come to you naturally. Your baby will be thrilled with each one as he/she responds to you and takes in the wonder of their world.
Your baby loves your face! They love to touch it and snuggle against it. Take the opportunity to help them relate your face to their own. This is as simple as naming your face parts as they touch your face. Then take their hand to their face and name the same parts.
Make faces when playing with your baby so they can learn how facial expressions communicate. Place their hand on your mouth when you speak, or across your cheek so they can feel how those sounds are made.
Face time games can even be played with stuffed animals or dolls. Just as you would touch and name parts of your face, do the same with the toy. Name those parts as your little one touches or grabs them on their favorite stuffed animal.
Repeat the sounds your little one makes back to them so they can see on your face what they look like. Be sure to add lots of smiles and giggles to this activity.
Babies spend a lot of time on their backs. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that all babies should sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The AAP also recommends that babies spend time on their tummies each day when awake and alert.
Tummy Time is arguably the most important exercise your newborn can participate in. This time on the tummy can start as soon as you get home and continue through the first year. Start with just a minute or two several times a day, then expanding into at least an hour per day when your baby is around 3 months old. The hour per day doesn’t have to be all at once. Gauge how long each session is on how much you and your little one are enjoying the time.
Benefits of tummy time:
- Strengthen neck, back and shoulder muscles
- Helps prevent flat head syndrome from laying on back too long
- Helps develop motor skills
What you can do:
- Get down on the floor at eye level and engage your baby with fun sounds and faces encouraging your little one to try to look your way
- Place toys on the floor within your baby’s sight and move it back and forth while your little one follows it with their eyes
- Sing songs to calm your baby if they object to Tummy Time at first
Pull Along Time
You can purchase pull along type toys or make them yourself. Whether the object has wheels or not doesn’t really matter.
Simply tie a length of yarn (2-3’) to a toy truck, stuffed animal or other favorite. Place the other end in your baby’s hand and show them how to give a little tug. This teaches your little one how to control their environment.
As they start to crawl, they’ll love pulling around their favorite toy with them on their journey about the house.
Baby’s will find some of the silliest things amusing. Pay attention to these and be sure to repeat whatever it was. Could be a silly sound, a facial expression, or even a wiggly stuffed animal.
Try on different hats, sunglasses or other props that can change your appearance. Whatever it is, play it up.
Place your little one in front of a mirror and try hats on together. Make faces at each other in the mirror and watch the twinkle in their eyes.
Laughter is good for both your souls. And it’s an important part of our human communication. Finding what makes your little one laugh is a great way to encourage their sense of humor.
Touch is one of the first things your little one uses to explore their environment. Various textures help them learn differences in soft, hard, scratchy, rough, cool, warm and so much more.
While we tend to use our hands when thinking about feeling different textures. You’ll want to use feet and even your baby’s face when exploring textures with them.
Introduce different textures in their toys, from soft snuggly stuffed animals to cool hard surfaced toys. Allow them to crawl across different types of flooring – carpet, tile, hardwoods.
Textures can even be found in food. Allow them to finger bread, crackers, cereals, even pudding and yogurts.
Water play is so much fun for a little one. You don’t have to limit this type of play to bath time. A water table or even just bowls of water on the patio or grass can prove to be lots of fun.
Squeeze bottles, cups, bowls funnels, balls, rubber ducks, sponges and wash cloths are all great ways to bring water play to your baby.
Please do remember to not leave your little one unattended around water. By all means get involved with them in their water games.
A delightful game to help your little one with eye hand coordination is floating time. In this game, you use something lightweight such as a scarf, a piece of fabric, perhaps even a feather. Toss it into the air and allow it to float in front your little one so they can grab at it. Even bubbles could be used for this game.
Babies love a cabinet. While it’s important to put the appropriate cabinet locks on them to keep your baby safe, it’s a great idea to leave one cabinet just for them. A controlled cabinet gives your baby the chance to explore and play. Simple pots, pans, plastic containers, wooden spoons and cups will keep them entertained.
Before you know it they will be mimicking you in the kitchen stirring up fancy suppers.
Reading is an important part of your time with your baby. While they can’t read yet, having you read to them is a great way of introducing the love of stories and reading. Reading various books is a great way to end a busy day as part of your nightly bedtime routine.
Pointing out the characters, places or items pictured on each page as you read aloud. Use your voice as you read them a story to express emotions of sadness, excitement and joy. All these things help your little one come to love reading.
Here’s a little game to help your baby practicing decision skills. Give your little one a toy for each hand, then offer another one. You’ll see those little wheels turning while trying to decide if the third toy is worth putting down one in their hand. Or perhaps they are toying with the idea of holding all three.
This game also assists in learning hand control through holding, letting go and picking up.
You can even change the rules by just offering multiple toys and leaving the decisions on which to pick up and play with up to your baby.
We always said at Christmas that we didn’t need to put anything into those pretty wrapped gifts. The babies loved the boxes many times more than what was in them.
Be sure to have on hand different sizes, shapes and colors of boxes. This can be as simple as shoe boxes, cereal boxes or even larger delivery boxes that they can climb in.
Wrap them in various colors and types of paper. There’s not much that is more fun to a baby than tearing paper off a box. They love the feel of the paper, the sound it makes as it tears, the pieces coming off in their hands. They are so excited to see what they can do.
The unwrapping game can become even more fun if you wrap up a small favorite toy or lovey inside the box. They’ll be so excited to find the prize!
Show them how they can stack the boxes and then knock them down. They will quickly catch on to this game and learn how to stack them all on their own. You’ll smile as big as they do when you see how proud they become as they master this skill.