10 Fun Games for a Baby’s First Year

Fun baby games that can boost your child's skills and development don't need to be complicated. In fact, they shouldn't be. You may even find that many of the best games you can play with your child to help them learn about the world around them are what you already do naturally.

To help you and your baby get the most out of playtime, make sure that you recognize signs your little one is sending that indicate when it's time to play. These signals might include:

  • Watching you or other people with interest
  • Reaching out for you
  • Smiling

It's also important to recognize when your infant has had enough baby games and needs a break. These signs might include:

To help your baby have fun, bond with you, and learn about the world, try playing the following 10 development games. You may also want to come up with your own variations or combine games when you sense your baby is ready for an additional challenge.

Peek-a-Boo

One of the best baby games to play with infants is also one of the easiest. Simply hide your face behind your hands and then move your hands away while you say, "Peek-A-Boo!"

Until babies are around 9 months old, they don't realize that you're still there when your face is covered. So your child will be fascinated by your disappearing and reappearing act. This baby game may even help your child become more comfortable in the world when they realize that you'll come back even when you "go away."

After your child begins to understand the game more, they may try to "find" you by reaching for your hands when you hide. Try playing this development boosting game to make tasks like changing diapers and getting dressed more fun for you and baby.

Mommy See, Mommy Do

Just as you can read your baby's signals to know when to play baby games, you can take your lead on how to play from your little bundle of joy.

For example, if your baby is vocalizing with "coos" and "ga-gas," try imitating your baby's sounds. That will help your baby develop a foundation for conversation skills. Likewise, when your baby smiles, smile back. This will help your baby develop self-confidence as they realize that you're having fun and enjoying their company.

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Dance Around

All babies need plenty of cuddling time to help them feel secure and build emotional attachments to the important people in their lives.

Try dancing around with your baby to foster bonding and to respond to your baby's needs. If they’re in a playful mood, do a gentle, silly jig together to get them laughing. If your baby's tired or upset, they  might prefer a slow dance around the room to help them calm down with motion.

Patty Cake

"Patty-cake, patty-cake, baker's man, bake me a cake as fast as you can. Pat it and roll it and mark it with 'B.' And put it in the oven for baby and me." This well-known clapping game may seem silly, but it's a great way to help your baby develop a number of important skills.

First, the rhythm and repetitiveness of the tune will help your baby develop language skills. Additionally, the feel of your touch as you gently clap your hands against theirs in time to the rhyme will help stimulate their sense of touch. As your baby gets older, they’ll probably try to imitate the movements you're making with your hands, which will help them develop their large motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Where's Your Nose?

Want to work on developing language skills and make your baby giggle at the same time? Then this silly, simple baby game is perfect for you.

To help boost your baby's development, ask, "Where's your nose?" in a singsong voice. Then gently touch your baby's nose as you say "There's your nose!" with great delight. Repeating this game and playing it with different parts of your baby's body or nearby objects will help your baby start to learn the meaning of different words.

Fabric Fun

When a baby is little, the world is a vast sea of new sensory experiences. The best development games provide ways for your infant to explore their environment safely.

Watch how your baby plays when you give them pieces of fabric with different textures -- such as burlap, corduroy, satin, and velvet -- to handle. The variety of textures will intrigue and interest them. At the same time, holding pieces of fabric and waving them around will help build muscle strength and coordination.

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Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Babies love to listen to the voices of people they know, and they're also intrigued by repetitive sounds. Give your baby the opportunity to hear both by regularly saying nursery rhymes or other kid-friendly rhyming poems.

You can have rhyme time anytime -- in the bath, during snuggle time, or when you're riding in the car. These are all perfect opportunities to entertain your baby and boost language skills.

Rhyme Time

Babies love to listen to the voices of people they know, and they're also intrigued by repetitive sounds. Give your baby the opportunity to hear both by regularly saying nursery rhymes or other kid-friendly rhyming poems.

You can have rhyme time anytime -- in the bath, during snuggle time, or when you're riding in the car. These are all perfect opportunities to entertain your baby and boost language skills.

Baby Has a Ball

Yes indeed, you can play ball with baby long before your newborn is able to catch and throw.

To keep things interesting, find a ball designed for infants that has different textures and colors to keep their interest. First, try giving the ball to your baby and see what they try to do. You can show them different ways to play by gently rolling the ball or putting it in a container. As they develop muscle tone and learn more about how the world works, they’ll start to imitate you and come up with their own games.

Sing-a-Song

Babies love music, from soothing lullabies to rhythmic drums and silly ditties. Even if you don't think you can carry a tune, your baby will love for you to sing to them and it will help you deepen the parent-child bond.

Give your baby the opportunity to listen to a variety of different types of music. Based on how they respond (Do they coo? Wriggle around? Smile?), you'll probably be able to determine their favorite kind of music.

Songs don't even need to be "real" songs to make for a development boosting game. Make up a tune about what you're doing as you give your baby a bath or walk through the park. The exposure to language will help your child build their vocabulary.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on July 19, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

University of Minnesota Extension: "Games to Play with Your Baby."

U.S. Department of Education: "Prepare my child for school."

Zero to Three: "Power of Play: Learning Through Play From 0-3."

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