Try these great games for younger babies …
Your baby will be most familiar with mum’s voice to start with but they’ll soon learn to recognise the voices of other carers. Get into the habit of talking to your baby or singing gentle lullabies, eg Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; Hush Little Baby Don’t Say a Word (mamma’s gonna buy you a mockingbird); Rock-a-Bye Baby (in the treetop) whilst you rock them.
If your baby enjoys baby massage, talk to them about what you’re doing – name different parts of the body and the movements you’re using; say how baby might be feeling – is it making them smile or making them sleepy?
Your baby loves having the chance to watch your face, hold baby close, so they can focus on your face (babies focus best on objects about 20cm away). Watch baby carefully. Copy their facial expression. Try slowly poking your tongue out or opening your mouth wide – they might copy you but don’t worry if they don’t!
Sit with your baby on your lap and your knees drawn up so baby is facing you.
Hide your face with material; slowly and gently pull the material away (you don’t want to startle baby – the game can get much more boisterous as baby gets older).
Smile at baby and say ‘Peekaboo’.
Play peekaboo with a favourite toy, making it pop up from behind a door or table.
Try covering baby’s face briefly – uncover and say ‘peekaboo’ – check that baby is actually enjoying the game!
Babies LOVE bubbles. Sit your baby in a bouncy chair or car seat and blow bubbles around them. You may notice your baby following the bubbles with their eyes as they float down.
Blow bubbles outside too. If baby catches one, they’ll see and feel it pop as they touch it. Make fun comments as you play together – ‘whee’, ‘wow’, ‘pop’!
Remember to clean hands afterwards to avoid soapy water in eyes.
Although baby may not be ready to say their first words, they’re already on their way to getting the hang of communication. All those cute baby sounds – gurgles and coos – are early attempts to communicate, and the more responsive you are, the more you’ll encourage the “conversation”.
Make this natural response into a game. Start by helping baby work out all the fun sounds they can make with their mouths. When you hear baby make one of those classic baby noises, maybe blowing a raspberry or making a clicking noise with their tongue, repeat it back to them. When baby gets a little older, they might copy you making a series of rhythmic tongue clicks to different beats.
Now try showing baby some new sounds – try a big smacking kiss; pop your finger out of the side of your mouth; or try blowing air out of your mouth while wiggling your finger on your lips. Make sure you give baby time to have a go at making a similar type of sound back to you.
Go for a listening walk – carry baby around listening for noises – when you notice one, let baby know ‘I can hear…the washing machine….the doorbell….an aeroplane’ – pretend to make the noise yourself – ‘mmmmm’!
If the noise stops suddenly, you can comment , ‘oh, it’s stopped, it’s all quiet now’.
It’s never too early to introduce nursery rhymes.
Sing and do the actions for rhymes like ‘Round and Round the Garden’, ‘This Little Piggy’, ‘Incey Wincey Spider’ with baby’s feet or hands. Repeat the song a couple of times pausing before the big moment – the tickle at the end – and your baby will soon start to giggle in anticipation. These simple, repetitive rhymes are also great for improving your baby’s memory skills.