Best Games to Play With Your Baby: Peekaboo, Patty-Cake and More! – What to Expect
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It’s always game time when there’s a baby in the house. After all, play is your baby’s work and that work is never done. Playing on his own, for the few minutes it lasts, can be a blast, but games are always more fun when someone else is playing along, you, so let the games begin.
Yes, you’ve played endless rounds of peekaboo already, but there’s a reason why this game’s a keeper. It stimulates baby’s senses, builds gross motor skills, strengthens visual tracking, encourages social development, and best of all, tickles baby’s budding sense of humor.
Chances are your baby already can’t get enough, but if you’re feeling peekaboo-ed out, try a twist. Instead of hiding behind your hands, hide behind the chair, under the table, under a blanket, under a paper bag. Instead of the standard peekaboo, I see you, try, where’s Daddy? Here I am.
When baby’s ready to play along, hold her hands over her own face, or if she’s game, briefly put a napkin or a small blanket over her head. Try it in the mirror too for a whole different perspective. Just be ready to repeat and repeat until you collapse. Most babies have an insatiable appetite for peekaboo and later on, hide and seek.
Clapping games always get a round of applause from babies, even before they can figure out how to clap their own hands together. Getting clap happy with games like patty-cake helps build cognitive and motor skills, and it’s loads of fun. Clap baby’s hands together with yours as you recite, patty-cake, patty-cake, baker’s man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can. Help him pat and roll as you continue. Hand-eye coordination, social and verbal development, and fine motor skills are all baked right in.
Finger games teach coordination of words and actions, but play like fun. Get creepy with The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, having your fingers move up an imaginary waterspout, then fall down as rain, rise up as the sun, and back to spider mode. Take turns doing the motions yourself and guiding your baby’s chubby hands through them, and don’t forget a chorus of yay at the end of each round. All done with the spiders? Take your fingers sky high in Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, another baby crowd pleaser.
All baby games boost language development, but few produce as many squeals of delight as This Little Piggy, especially when the last little piggy cries wee, wee, wee all the way up your baby’s arm or leg, to under her arms or neck, gently tickling as it goes.
Baby doesn’t like tickling? Use a stroking motion instead. For eyes-nose-mouth, take both baby’s hands in yours, touch one to each of your eyes, then both to your nose, then to your mouth, where you end with a kiss, naming each feature as you move along. Nothing teaches those body parts faster. Do the same with baby’s eyes, nose, and mouth in the mirror or do it with the doll’s or the teddy bear’s.
Don’t count out counting games as long as they’re just for fun. When climbing stairs, sing, one, two, buckle my shoe.
Ramp up motor skills, cognition, and fun with a game of Pop Goes the Weasel. Hold baby’s hands and rock him back and forth as you sing, all around the mulberry bush. When it’s time for pop goes the weasel, bounce your baby up, and if he’s ready, lift him to stand. Once baby is clued in, wait a moment or two before the bounce to give him a chance to do the popping. Cue the giggles. Here’s to playing fun.