There's no wrong way to play lovingly with your baby. And yet, some new parents seem to have an almost paralyzing doubt about their ability to play with their young children. Relax, this is really something you simply cannot mess up!
Here are a few tips and games to get the fun started:
- On the level: Get rid of any separations and get down on the ground to play with baby or bring toddlers up to your level (safely) for a different perspective.
- You exaggerate: Babies look to you for their cues and they love observing faces. Do not be embarrassed to smile big, laugh loudly, and open your eyes wide--no one but your baby is watching.
- Set the mood: Some babies enjoy a defined "play space." Use a plain placemat to stage activities like building blocks and your baby will be ready for fun each time you roll it out.
- Sing it, sister: When in doubt, sing some children's songs. If you are not sure what to say, let the song do the talking--children's songs contain the rhymes and rhythms that babies love. And even if you are off-key, your baby will be an appreciative audience.
- Toy town: A few, well-chosen toys can help spark limitless possibilities and many toys now come with suggestions for play.
Games to play with your baby:
- 0-6 months: Count to three and then give baby a big kiss, tickle or hug. Do this several times and then pause for an extra few seconds before giving the kiss. Your baby will be surprised and fascinated by the change in rhythm.
- 6-12 months: Show baby a toy that plays music or flashes lights. Then, in front of baby, hide the toy under a blanket. Let baby find the toy. Next time, hide the toy somewhere else. Go searching for the toy together. This helps baby understand object permanence.
- 12-18 months: Play soccer or basketball with a soft ball or beanbag and a laundry basket as the goal or hoop. Roll, kick, or toss the ball in. Try it from further and further away. Toddlers delight in their improving gross motor skills.
- 18-24 months: Make some homemade fingerpaints or playdough and let your toddler's creativity flow. Not only is this great, imaginative fun, it also works fine motor skills.
Want more suggestions? Dr. Sears' The Baby Book has some great ideas for games for infants and, for ages one and up, Unplugged Play is a fantastic resource.