10 Games To Play With Babies Under 1

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When I was expecting T, I worried about so many things, as expectant mothers do. Routines, different methods of feeding, sleep deprivation, post-baby flabbiness, post-baby relationships (with my husband), PND, baby vaccinations, the temperature of his nursery….the list was endless.

The one thing I didn’t worry about though, was what I would play with my baby. I’m a Reception Teacher. Before that, I was a Nursery Teacher. Play is the one thing I feel like I’ve done A LOT!

But babies aren’t like children. For several months, all they do is feed and sleep. They don’t even make eye contact at the beginning. They aren’t capable of responding to any of your silly noises, faces, tickles, songs, rhymes and cuddles. It’s hard  – even if you are a born performer – to keep up with a game when all you get back is a blank stare and – if you’re really lucky – little hand or foot wiggle.  When babies get a bit older (past about four months), you start to get smiles as a reward, but they are still fairly limited by where they are in their development. So it is no easy task, coming up with games that stimulate your baby and help her develop her emerging skills.

Our Favourite Games

Anyway, I came up with a few, and borrowed a few classics to get me through those early play times with T. Here are our ten favourite games that are either old favourites or games I invented to entertain T. In the near future, I will be creating a huge bank of game ideas for babies under two, so I would really love to hear what you think of the list below and also if you have any games that you’ve tried that have been a hit.

Here they are.  They are not in any particular order, just mine and T’s ten favourite games, as I remembered them, with a section showing what your baby is learning.

1. PEEKABOO

You just can’t go wrong with peekaboo.  ALL babies love it – I think it’s because they feel like they are in on a little secret with you (that, although you are hidden, you are still there).  The other thing is, you can play it anywhere, without any props or just using what’s to hand.  T can’t get enough of Peekaboo and it was the first game he initiated without me prompting him.

What you will need: a muslin, a scarf, a box, a basket, or just your hands – really, anything that covers your face!

How to play:  Alright, I know literally every mummy knows this game, but, just for the sake of consistency:

Cover your face, call out “Where’s mummy?”, then remove the cover and say “Peekaboo!”

Extensions/variations:

  • Just do it all the time in different places – (we do!) – behind the pram, the car seat, the front door, a cushion.
  • Encourage your baby to do it too by holding things up to her face and saying “Where’s….?”
  • Do it with soft toys or bath toys – make them “pop up” from behind something and say “peekaboo!” in a variety of voices.

What she is learning: social skills, a sense of Object Permanence

2. CATCH THE RIBBON

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What you will need: Collection of interesting ribbons or scarves

How to play:

Have your baby lying on their back or in a chair. Dangle a ribbon above her face, and wiggle it around.  Let her try and catch it.  Do this a few times, then, just as she are about to grab the ribbon, pull it away and say “Where’s it gone?” The first time I did this, it had T in stitches. It is still a firm favourite.

Possible extensions/variations:

  • Do the same as above, but have your baby on her front, with the ribbon laid out near her hands.
  • Make a ribbon stick by attaching the ribbon to a piece of dowelling. ( I got one long piece of dowelling from a hardware store and then sawed it into pieces of equal length).  This gives you more control over how you move the ribbon and you can make patterns for your baby to watch whilst trying to catch it. You can go up and down, do zig-zags or circles in the air, or even make a spiral but moving your wrist around in circles.

What she is learning: social skills, hand-eye co-ordination, sense of touch

3. TICKLE TIME BOX/BAG

What you will need:

  • a box, basket or bag
  • a collection of tickly objects: a long craft feather, a ribbon, a handkerchief or scarf, a scrap of furry/soft material, a taggie,

How to play:

Best to do this at “Nudey Time”  or before Bath Time, when your baby has no clothes on, because then she can really feel the tickles on her bare skin.  Just pull the different tickly objects out of the bag or box (one at a time) and touch her gently with them all over her body, saying “Tickle Time!” or whatever you like to say.

Extensions/variations:

  • I like to add a bit of suspense by saying: “Now I’m going to tickle you on your…. (dramatic pause)…knees – tickle, tickle!”  This is a great way of introducing vocabulary about her body too!

What she is learning: social skills, sense of touch, awareness of her body, vocabulary of body

4. HIDE AND SEEK
What you will need:

  • a collection of small objects (balls, wooden blocks, sorting shapes, cars – just some examples but anything will do). NB Nothing smaller than, say, a bit of duplo, obviously, to make sure there is no choking hazard.
  • some large-ish containers that are not see-through (plastic cups, stacking cups, a bucket, a cardboard box)

How to play:

Get a couple of the objects out on the floor – make sure your baby can see them.  Point to them and say what they are.

Put the container over the top of the object, look confused and say “Where’s the car gone?”T loves this game – he feels so clever to realise he knows where it is even though he can’t see it.
Extensions/Variations:

  • use different objects and containers to vary the game.
  • Also, as your baby gets older, you can try it with two or more containers and one object.  Put one container over the object and see if he can find it!

What he is learning: social skills, object permanence, vocabulary of the objects you are using

5. TAKE ME OUT!

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What you will need:

  • one of the following: bucket, cup, box, basket
  • Some small objects – blocks, sorting shapes, small duplo blocks, teaspoons, beanbags, rattles, scraps of fabric or muslins – anything that fits inside the container you have chosen

How to play:  Just put the object into the container and say “Can you take the ….out?”  Then watch as your baby tries to retrieve it.  If you have a very young baby, they might still enjoy watching you put it in and take it out, if it is a very interesting object

Extensions/Variations:

  • As your baby gets older, you can try putting lots of objects into the container, or objects that are harder to retrieve

What she is learning: hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, sense of touch, vocabulary of the objects you are using

6. TOPPLE THE TOWER

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What you will need:

  • stacking blocks or cups of any kind – we have some really nice squidgy blocks which I love because they are wipe-clean, colourful and unbreakable

How to play:

Build a tower and encourage your baby to knock it over.  When they are tiny, you can build the tower to their side as they lie on their back, then adapt it to being in front of them when they learn to sit, and across the room when they have learned to crawl.

Extensions/Variations:

  • As your baby gets older, you can build more elaborate towers to interest her, using different designs and different objects.  We’ve been building towers out of some really unusual things this last week because T seems to find this amusing!

What she is learning:  hand-eye coordination, social skills, vocabulary

7. NOISY BAG

At school ,I used to do feely bags to introduce vocabulary of touch and texture, or to introduce the characters in a story, or the names of 3d shapes…and lots more.  I love them.  This is an adaptation of that game for babies, which T seems to like.

What you will need:

  • a soft bag – preferably an interesting one
  • a variety of noisy objects – we use: rattles, bells, crinkly paper, a squeaky toy.  I’d love to hear any more ideas if anyone has any for this as I could do with a few more things in our bag – it’s looking a bit sparse.

How to play:

Show your baby the bag and ask: “What’s in the bag?”  Then, holding one of the objects inside the bag and making the noise, ask: “What can you hear?  What’s making that noise?”.  Then reveal the object and let your baby enjoy exploring it for a bit.

Extensions/Variations:

  • None that I can think of at the moment…although, as T gets older I think that I’ll transform it into a feely bag with a blindfold for guessing games.  Can you think of any?  Please do comment below if so!

What she is learning: listening skills, sense of touch, social skills

8. CATCH

catch

Alright, this is another obvious one but I just have to include it in the list because T absolutely adored this game from around four to nine months old.  He is beginning to be into other things at the moment but I think there are endless variations you can play of this game.
What you will need:

a ball

How to play: 

I am not going to put anything here because I think we all know very well how to play catch!  All I will say is, T obviously isn’t some kind of genius baby who can actually catch a ball in flight – he just waits for the ball to arrive and picks it up.  But he does throw it back.  This was the first real game he could play with me, after Peekaboo.

Extensions/Variations:

  • use different types of ball – for a good selection of balls see my Top Ten Toys for Under Ones (coming soon)
  • bounce or roll the ball instead of throwing it and see if your baby tries to do the same

What she is developing: social skills, turn-taking skills, hand-eye co-ordination, vocabulary

9.  PULL THE STRING

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What you will need: some pull-toys with strings attached

How to play:

Place the string within reach or out of reach of your baby (depending on how mobile they are).  Say “Come and get the…” and encourage your baby to pull it towards her.

This is probably T’s favourite game at the moment because he has just learned to crawl.  We played it all weekend when he showed signs of wanting to move forward, and he loved it!  Before he was mobile he enjoyed being able to make the toys move all by himself and now, he loves the challenge of having to crawl to get them.

Extensions/variations:

  • Use a variety of pull toys
  • Put them in front of, to the side and behind your baby for a bit of a different game

What she is learning: hand-eye co-ordination, fine motor skills, social skills, vocabulary

10.  UP AND DOWN

T loves being thrown about, so that is how this game was born.

What you will need:

Yourself and your baby

How to play:

Hold your baby in front of you and say ” Shall we go up like a rocket?  Ready, Steady Go!”  Then lift your baby up really high (throw and catch her if you are daring!)  Then say “Shall we go down like the rain?” and bring her down to the ground.

Variations/extensions:

Saying “bouncy bouncy” while bouncing your baby on your knees is a sort of variation  I guess – as it’s a repetitive up-and-down motion.  T loved this when he was very little and still does now.

What she is learning: listening skills, social skills, vocabulary

If you liked this post, you may also like Top Ten Toys for Under Ones.

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6 thoughts on “10 Games To Play With Babies Under 1

  1. Pingback: Minimise Toy Clutter: Top Ten Toys to Buy for Under Ones | Play It Again Mummy

  2. Pingback: Ten Reasons To Play With Your Baby | Play It Again Mummy

  3. Pingback: Four Fun Hide and Seek Games For Babies | Play It Again Mummy

  4. Pingback: 17 Ways To Play With Stacking Cups | Play It Again Mummy

  5. Pingback: Minimise Toy Clutter: Top Ten Toys to Buy for Under Ones

  6. Pingback: 11 Games To Entertain a Toddler AND a Baby |

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