Often as an overtired mom I just do the same two things over and over again for our playtime. Today I decided to put together a little list for my big kids (and myself) so that we have several baby playtime ideas up our sleeves.
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Here are several activities that we try and incorporate into baby playtime. I'd love to hear some of your favorites as well.
Sing Songs and Do Fingerplays
This first activity is one of my favorites! I love this post from Rainy Day Mum with 10 nursery rhyme to sing with babies. My daughter especially loves when I act out the Itsy Bitsy Spider. My big kids also will rock out to more popular songs from the radio with instruments or my oldest (8) will play the baby some songs on the piano and sing along. This list of songs from the N-E Northport Public Library is also a great comprehensive resource.
Play with puppets
We have collected several puppets over the years. The puppets love to talk to babies and give them kisses and even join in with singing. Some of the puppets we have include a cow, duck, dragon, butterfly, and goat. I also love the Baby Einstein collection on Amazon, especially the doggie!
Read Touch-and-Feel books (or any books)
Now that my daughter is starting to be more interactive I love to read Touch and Feel books with her and guide her hand to touch different parts of the book while telling her about them. She isn't grabbing at things yet or trying to touch them on her own, but I can tell she loves the vibrant colors, patterns, and new textures by how long she shares at them and how she reacts!
Some of our favorite touch and feel books are from Usborne Books. We love books in the "That's not my..." series by Fiona Watt. We have That's Not My Princess, That's Not My Puppy, That's Not My Angel, and That's Not My Train. We also love touch and feel books by Matthew Van Fleet. Tails is one of our favorites along with Dog. We also have a huge collection of board books (with many that are well-loved) that we pull from.
Play with a "Friend" in the Mirror
Once babies start responding to their reflection in the mirror it is so fun! My daughter will smile and smile at her "friend" in the mirror. Often for playtime I will carry her around the house and check out her reflection in different mirrors. We also love to let my big kids use portable mirrors on our activity gym and floor play mirrors in our toy bin to play along with the baby. When the baby lies on her tummy she loves to lift her head to see her face in the floor mirror.
Kisses, Tickles, & Cuddles
We all love to give the baby smooches on her cheeks and forehead and even on her little tummy! During playtime I will also supervise while my big kids take turns holding the baby and cuddling with her. She loves being close to them (most of the time).
Make Silly Sounds
My older kids are silly sound experts. They love to use their mouths or instruments around the house to find ways to keep the baby happy and entertained. One morning I came around the corner to discover all three kids sitting in front of the baby slapping their own cheeks and making popping sounds with their mouths. It was so funny and the baby loved it! The kids also love to use baby rattles and shake them for the baby. I love the Hape Rainbow rattle and Max Clutching Toy from Haba.
Play with Water
When supervised I love to let my big kids help with bath time and water play time. Once my babies like lying on their tummies we love to let the baby lie down by a very shallow baking pan of water and splash away. You can see this idea featured in our Zero to Two: Book of Play video. I also love to let the big kids show the baby different bath toys while I am bathing her. They love getting to be my special helpers and squirt her tummy with water.
Tying a balloon around a baby's ankle can bring about so much fun! Make sure to supervise baby and watch the excitement. Laughing Kids Learn shares more about this awesome activity in her Balloon Kicking post.
Go on Hike or Walk
Getting out in nature with babies is SO IMPORTANT! Both for the babies and for parents. I am in such a better mood when I go outside often and I find my babies are too. When we walk I love to point out animals, colors, and sounds. Sometimes we push the baby in the stroller and sometimes I wear her in my Ergobaby carrier. My big kids love to chime in and tell her things and show her stuff and make smiling faces at her.
Do a Blanket Fall
We love to use our thin Aden and Anais swaddle blankets and do a blanket fall game. I will hold one end of the blanket and gently drop the other side of the blanket on the baby's face and body, covering her. Then I will pick it up and do it again. I will make sounds like, "whoosh" or we'll say "peek-a-boo" or other random sounds as we pull it off and do it again. The baby seems to love the breeze of air as the blanket falls. Big kids can help while I am supervising.
Use an Activity Gym
After more interactive play we love to let the baby have some independent playtime on a big blanket by our large window. We will also pull out our activity gym for her to use. She loves checking out the animals and kicking the different objects that hang down. We love seeing the different things she does with the gym as she grows and learns new things each week.
Playing airplane with babies is one of our classic favorite activities. I love to rest the baby on my shins while I lie on my back on the floor. Sometimes I'll let my big kids try too (with supervision). We also love to just hold the baby up in the air when we are standing up and pretend to fly her around like an airplane.
These activities are for little babies. If you need some play ideas for older babies check out our Simple Play Activities for Baby and our Play Activities for Kids ages 9 month to 18 months.