GAMES TO PLAY WITH BABY AT HOME
Babies grow up in the blink of an eye but those first 6 months are a particularly amazing time for their development. Although they’re only little, you can continue to support them on all levels: physical, intellectual, and psychological. This is the phase where they gain consciousness of their own bodies, through movement and play and it doesn’t take much to keep them stimulated. While spending more time at home, you can aid your baby’s development through explorative games you will both enjoy. All you need are objects that are readily available at home.
Games for Babies at 0-6 Months
Explore scents and fabrics
Gently rub your baby's body and arms with different fabrics and have them smell different scents. You can aid their sensory development by caressing their skin with silk, wool, cotton, and fluffy fabrics. Introduce them to different scents like orange, vanilla, and lavender.
When your baby is able to make sounds, record them and play them back to him/her. Observe how they react to their own sounds. If it stimulates them, record different sounds around the house, like the ringtone of a phone, or music. This exercise will help them distinguish sounds, which will enable them to differentiate different words later on. When the same sounds and word patterns are repeated for babies, they memorize them. The next time they hear the sounds, it will be familiar.
Play hide and seek
Place a toy in front of your baby and then hide it. After hiding it, ask "I wonder where it's gone?" and ask "Is it over here, over there?" as you search for it. Watch your baby's reactions. Watch their development every time you play this game. Will their eyes dart over to the place you hid the toy, or will they try to scoot over there?
When your baby is able to lift their head whilst lying on their stomach, you can roll a brightly coloured ball past their field of vision or place their favourite toy just within their reach. While they're lying on their stomach, reaching out to try to touch the ball or toy will strengthen both their arm muscles and neck muscles, as well as being beneficial for sensory development.
Explore new sounds
While your baby is lying on their stomach, take two wooden spoons and tap them together to lure the baby to scoot towards you. Increase the sound as they get nearer. In their fifth and sixth months, as your baby is sitting you can give them the wooden spoons to make noise with. Make sure you supervise their play. Hearing different rhythms and tones will help your baby to recognise and learn new sounds as they grow.
.... And don’t forget to wash your hands and baby's as recommended by the HSE, before and after playing. Also avoid touching your face and your baby’s face as much as you can.
Games for babies at 6-12 months old
Use musical toys
Musical toys always grab their attention. Put the toy in different parts of the room and turn up the sound and then ask where the music is coming from. Will they try to find it? If they scoot towards it, change its position to different spots in the room and ask again. If they're able to crawl, then place it somewhere they can reach. These kinds of activities are great for developing cause-effect relationships and increasing their spatial awareness. Make sure you supervise baby's play.
Play with puppets
You can start playing with puppets during these months. When you hide them behind your back, do they look for them? Now hide it on top of the baby's head, behind them, or under a pillow, take it out again and talk with it. Then put it in your baby's hands and see what they do. Repeat this game from time to time until they try to imitate you. It's a great game to encourage baby’s movement.
To improve your baby's climbing ability, create a small, soft climbing area by gradually putting large pillows on top of one another (first 1 pillow, then 2 etc.) Put a toy on top of the “ultimate peak” for them to climb and try to reach it. Be sure to carefully supervise your child at all times while climbing. It's a game that helps the development of basic motor skills, facilitating walking later on.
9-10 months is the time to start developing their understanding of inside and outside. Put a toy in a bucket or bag and then help them take it out. Say the words "in" and "out." You can repeat this game as many times as you like.
Arrange your toys
Get a bunch of different age-appropriate rings or hoops of different sizes and, if possible, different colours. Arrange them in order from smallest to largest and then vice versa. As you arrange them according to size and colour, explain what you're doing. Let your baby hold them and throw them, then retrieve them. This is important for conceptual development.
Explore the environment together
When confined at home, help your baby familiarise him/herself with their environment. As you enter a room together, stop to name the room and explain its function. The next time, stop at a piece of furniture and explain its features, introduce sounds. Encourage your baby to repeat the sounds you introduce if they can. After they're 10 months old, memory related connections can be established, and these kinds of activities can be very useful.
And don’t forget to wash your hands and baby’s as recommended by the HSE, before and after playing. Also avoid touching your face and your baby’s face as much as you can.
Games for Toddlers
Entertaining and educating your 1 year old
Despite life as we know it slowing down due to the Coronavirus outbreak, your 1-year-old’s development doesn’t stop. They’re at that wonderful age when they’re naturally going to start moving around more, exploring the confines of their environment and reacting to different things. And because you’ll be there with them, here are some tips and tricks to make the most out of their wonderful age of discovery.
What can they do at this age?
1-year-olds are at an age where they'll learn, observe and imitate very quickly. They're also learning the concept of little and large and their motor skills are improving every day. On top of that, they can understand you and will start to react to different things. What’s great is that babies who show this kind of development are ready for games. So, you can offer them toys and activities suitable for their age.
What are the best toys?
Toys for 1-year-olds should support their cognitive development, as well as be fun and harmless. Also, at this time, teething toddlers will suck on and bite some of the small objects around them. Make sure such objects don’t damage their mouths and that these objects are disinfected beforehand. Here are some tips to help you choose a suitable toy.
- Make sure the toy has been properly certified as meeting all quality and health standards by CE Marking, Conformité Européenne.
- Avoid fluffy or small toys to avoid your baby swallowing or biting them.
- Colorful picture books are great and help to develop their visual and spatial intelligence.
- Toys they can easily hold are more fun to play games with
- Colorful cubes that fit inside one another and puzzles with large pieces contribute to their intelligence
- Musical instruments or toys that make sounds stimulate their reactions and support their auditory intelligence
- Playing with soft, squeezable balls improves their motor skills and draws their attention. It also encourages walking instead of crawling.
5 games to help them learn
Playing games with your toddler will help their cognitive development. There are loads of great games you can play together that will educate and entertain you and your little one.
Make your own music
Partake in a game of musical discovery with rattles, spoons, pots, pans, bells, gongs, or anything else that makes sounds. Both you and your toddler can make music together and it will help them recognize different sounds as well as improve their coordination.
Have a telephone call
If there's an old phone you don't use or a toy phone, you can pretend to "talk" to each other and make different sounds. This game is both fun and helps develop language and social skills as they try to imitate the sounds you make.
It's time to play with age-appropriate puzzles or Lego blocks. These toys are normally recommended for kids aged 2 and up. But let them watch you complete a puzzle or build something and then they can place some pieces on it. This shows them how to complete things together and develops their awareness of shapes and colors.
Count your little one’s fingers and toes, or count the number of stairs that you climb, or count the toys as you put them away in a basket. They don’t have to count just yet, but they will be learning how numbers work.
Make some sensory bottles
Fill some empty plastic bottles with materials of different colors, sizes and shapes, sand, beans etc. Put water in some of the bottles to mix it up and close the lid. Let your little one pick them up, shake them and examine the contents.
Entertaining and educating your 2 year old
Because it’s recommended that children stay at home during the Coronavirus outbreak, as a parent playtime, rest-time and learning-time are now your full-time responsibility. It may seem like a daunting task at first, so here are a few ideas for you and your toddler – not just to fuel their curiosity, but to burn off some energy and help them develop as well.
Top toys for tots
- Here’s a list of the best, safest and most stimulating toys to help your 2m year old develop.
- Wooden building blocks are a toddler’s favourite.
- They can play for hours with coloured boxes that can be filled and emptied over and over again.
- Dolls or puppets and animals that move help develop their imitation skills and their imagination.
- Children of all ages love to play with balls, and they're a staple for children of this age as well.
- Puzzles with large pieces are good toys for cognitive development.
- Maracas, drums and keyboards are great little musical instruments that can help bring out their innate musician at a young age.
- Plastic action and animal figures, toy houses and toy repair kits are ideal for this age group, provided the pieces aren't too small.
Play and learn with your toddler
Here are some imaginative ways you can play and learn with your 2-year-old even if you’re self-isolating at home.
- Play chef using safe kitchen utensils (like a plastic strainer, wooden spoon, and so on) that they can hold without any risk.
- Socks become puppets that make animal sounds and tell stories.
- Finger-painting as well as hand and footprints are great fun.
- Play pretend professions like a doctor, a farmer, a bus driver etc.
- Hiding and finding objects is another activity both of you can play together.
- Read books together to support their language development.
- Play a game where you take a bucket and throw balls or other objects inside.
- Dance together, sing songs, or just mime your favorite song together.
And as always, make sure you wash your and your toddler's hands before and after playtime! And even though it may be tough as he or she is so irresistible, avoid touching your little one's face (and your own!)
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our midwives, nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.