Activities for babies can feel quite limiting when your little one is so small, so we’ve rounded up a selection of different choices for you to try, however young your child may be.
A piece of paper can provide endless entertainment. For a younger baby, soft tissue paper is safe to handle and explore. She may just scrunch it up but this simple action stimulates your baby’s senses as she sees and feels how the paper changes appearance and texture and hears the crunchy sounds.|
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Entertain your baby with some puppet play. Pop your hand into the sock to transform it into something else, such as a friendly snake. Make a wavy action and give the snake a silly voice, then tell a story about the snake. This fun, positive interaction opens up the possibility of storytelling.
Give your baby different types of brushes to explore, such as a soft bath brush or a wall brush, so she can experience bristles and brushes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Watch carefully to see what she shows a particular interest in, then share her focus and show that you are interested, too.
Baby massage is a lovely way to bond with your youngster and an ideal soothing activity to do. Different pressure points on the soles of your baby’s feet connect with different parts of her body. And by massaging your baby’s feet, you connect with all her internal body systems. Gently support one of your baby’s feet with one hand and use your thumb to gently apply pressure all over the sole, finishing with a little press to the area under each of her toes. Repeat with her other foot.
Get your baby to look in the mirror or give them a baby-safe mirror to play with. They will be fascinated by their reflection and from just a few months old, they will realise it is a baby before recognising themselves at about nine months.
Sensory toys don’t have to be expensive. Make your own by filling a water bottle with coloured water, water beads or interesting objects – you can even turn them into shakers so your baby can make their own music.
When she’s deep into weaning, let your little one play with a mix of textures by giving her half of a ripe avocado in chunks, and half mashed. Let her play with a bowl of baked, mashed apple with some shaped baby snacks. Or serve a few breadsticks alongside a purée.
As you know, babies like to eat pretty much everything but with edible sand, you don't need to worry! There are a few different ways to do this but one of our favourites methods is simply blitizing cheerios together in a food processor until you have your desired amount of 'sand' for your baby to play with. She may be happy just feeling the 'sand' but why not include some toys to play with.
A sure-fire activity to get your baby giggling is to play a spot of peek-a-boo. ‘The incredible thing about peek-a-boo is that the fun value grows with your baby,’ says Developmental psychologist Dr Caspar Addyman, author of The Laughing Baby. ‘When your baby is tiny, she has limited vision, so the joy of the game is that she sees you looming in and out of her eyeline. When you come into focus the response is, ‘Hurrah! You’re there!’ It’s the simple gratification of having your attention.’ And by the time your baby’s eight or nine months old, she’s developed object permanence. In other words, she knows that you exist, even if you’re not right there in front of her. ‘By this stage, the delight in peek-a-boo seems to come from the fact that, when you hide behind your hands, your baby knows you’re there – and when you re-appear, you’re confirming her prediction and showing her that her expectations were right,’ says Caspar.
Once your baby has developed strong head and neck control, she can start the laughter-inducing game of flying. You sit on the floor facing your baby, hold her firmly around the chest, and say, ‘One, two, three... whee!’ On the whee, you roll backwards, so that you’re lying on the floor and she is ‘flying’ above you.
Somewhere between the ages of nine months and 15 months, your baby gets sussed about what this life thing is all about. She knows how your day works. She understands what to expect. She gets the routine. ‘Which is why she understands when you do something silly and unexpected that’s out of routine,’ says Dr Caspar Addyman. ‘We’re talking socks on hands; (clean) nappies on head; buckling her toy into the pram and putting her in the toy basket. She’s alert to the fact that you’re deliberately mixing things up to play a game with her – and she loves it!’