How to Play With Your Baby

Eliza Martinez
baby development

Many first-time parents are so consumed with learning how to care for a newborn that they do not think about planning or preparing for baby playtime activities. These types of activities can help your baby develop necessary motor and social skills, as well as provide an opportunity for you to bond with the newest member of the clan. Choose from several types of fun activities based on your baby's age and current developmental level.

Newborn to Three Months

Most newborns do little more than sleep and eat. If you are a new parent, you may feel overwhelmed learning how to adjust to the lack of sleep and additional hormones. Even though your main focus may be on setting up new routines, such as breastfeeding and bathing schedules, don't forget that playing helps improve his neurodevelopment.

  • Mother playing with newborn baby
    Dance with and sing to your baby.
  • Introduce her to tactile objects, such as velvet or silk fabrics.
  • Give him regular "tummy time," starting at around two-months. This is usually comprised of placing your baby on her stomach and providing plenty of toys to hold her interest.
  • Talk to your baby as much as possible. Narrating your daily activities is an easy way to do this.
  • Make funny faces, including smiles and sticking your tongue out.

Three to Six Months

When your baby reaches the three-month mark, she will typically be able to recognize your face and familiar objects. Some common developmental milestones between three and six months may include your baby learning how to support herself on her elbows, turn her head toward noises, grasp objects and sit up. Promote these milestones through fun activities and toys.

  • Father and baby playing with a rattle
    Give your baby a bright-colored, safety-approved rattle or ring toy.
  • Let her hang out on floor gyms that feature hanging objects and mirrors.
  • Offer toys that make music or other sounds, such as stuffed animals that make a noise when squeezed.
  • Introduce basic baby books, including board books or books that have interactive tactile features.

Six to Nine Months

When your little one reaches the six-month mark, she may have developed a sense of self that allows her to enjoy activities that are centered on her. She will probably start learning how to crawl at this age, and many babies make noises and enjoy banging on sound-making objects at this point as well. Parents and caregivers can promote these types of developmental milestones through activities that encourage movement and eye-hand coordination.

  • Mother and baby playing with a ball
    Set up a baby-proofed obstacle course in the living room using pillows and soft toys.
  • Encourage her to chase you or a toy throughout the room on her hands and knees.
  • Play an engaging game of peek-a-boo, where you pop up around the corner wearing sunglasses at one moment and a hat the next time.
  • Roll a small, soft ball back and forth.
  • Introduce your baby to recorded songs and music that encourage singing along and movement.

Nine Months to One Year

Between the nine month and one-year mark, your baby will probably learn how to pull herself up and begin standing. She is almost a toddler, and her infant phase of sleeping all day is behind her. Promote her alertness and curiosity with activities that encourage her to become more dexterous and agile.

  • Mother and baby playing with a toy
    Play with stacking toys that teach her how to build items.
  • Introduce her to toys with buttons or dials, such as baby telephones or stay-in-place discs that have interactive features with animal sounds.
  • Install a bouncy swing or toddler-appropriate playscape in your house or backyard.
  • Try finger paints or sponge painting to give your baby extra practice with motor skills.
  • Introduce chunky crayons and other safe art supplies.

Tips for Baby Playtime Activities

You don't have to buy every toy you see to ensure your baby will reach developmental milestones and goals. Simply use your creativity and make up games along the way. Your baby's reactions will let you know if she is entertained or engaged. If you must purchase some items, choose educational toys that your baby can use for at least six months or longer. Try to avoid using the television as a babysitter on a regular basis. Most babies should not watch TV until they reach the two-year mark.

Don't compare your baby to other babies - remember that every child develops at her own pace and you don't want to discourage her by sending her a vibe of disappointment or disapproval.

How to Play With Your Baby