Are you wondering how to play with your baby? I was always a bit puzzled by what I should do with my daughter when she wasn’t moving or really engaging with me. All of these ideas can be used to engage your baby’s senses and to connect with your child as well. I’ll explain the learning that can happen when you and baby play these simple games using one basic toy!
I gathered all of our baby toys that rattle which included our DIY sensory bottle (it makes such a unique sound when you shake it!). But, all you need is one rattle to play the games. I started by letting my son see the basket of toys. He looked away and smiled at first, but as soon as I left the basket alone, I started to here him shaking all of the toys!
**Tip: I’ve found over the years that arranging toys together by theme helps to engage babies and children longer than if their toys are scattered or clumped together in a box. Visual impact is important – catch their interest with a beautiful arrangement of toys!
Then, let them explore! They can take them out by themselves, or you can do it for them if they aren’t picking toys up yet. Enjoy the simplicity of this age and explain each toy as you hold it.
For example, say something like: “This is a rattle. It makes a sound when you shake, shake, shake!”
It might sound basic, but there is so much learning for baby in these little moments. Once you and your baby have explored the sensory basket, take baby’s favorite toy and play these great games to extend her interest.
Engaging Baby’s Sense of Hearing
1.) Shake it: Shake baby’s favorite toy that makes a sound by her right ear. When she looks toward it, shake it by her other ear. Shake the rattle above her head, then behind her back. Where did it go? (That’s a question for baby, by the way ;-))
2.) Hide it: Place baby’s favorite rattle inside of a box or inside another object. Shake and listen – does it makes a different sound?? Let baby explore the box and shake it on her own. Can she open the box yet? If not, open the box and encourage her to reach for the toy. Try cupping the rattle in between your hands. Shake and see if baby can peel back your fingers to find it (make sure to start revealing the rattle slowly if she doesn’t know where it went to encourage her engagement!).
3.) Roll it: Shake the rattle and roll it on the ground. Can baby crawl to it yet? If not, can she track the object? Roll multiple objects around her. Which one does she notice and reach for? Give her the one that she notices the most and roll the objects again.
4.) Find it: First, shake the rattle where it is visible, then continue to shake and place it behind your back. Can baby find it or crawl to it? If baby is mobile, try shaking while you move and see if baby follows. **Tip: Be sure to let her have the rattle before too long so that she doesn’t loose interest!
5.) Sing it: Sing songs like row, row, row your boat, the itsy bitsy spider, or twinkle, twinkle little star along with baby’s favorite rattle. Can she have one and shake along with you?
- Baby gradually learns that objects don’t just disappear, but rather, they maintain a permanent space (Object permanence)
- Hand eye coordination as baby reaches for the rattle
- Improve tracking of objects as you move the rattle from ear to ear, to overhead, and to behind your back
- Explore basic rhythm and timing as you sing with baby
- Gross Motor development as baby chases for the rolling rattle
- Fine Motor development as baby grasps the rattle
- Social/Emotional development as baby learns that the more they interact (through eye contact, smiles, coos, etc.), the more you will interact with them (continue to play the game, talking to them, smiling, etc.)
- Repeat, repeat, repeat – help baby learn by playing the games over and over
Most importantly, baby learns that being with you – Mom, Dad, family member, caregiver – is loving, interactive, and fun! The first year of a baby’s life is about feeling secure and safe with the people that they love. There is no better way to teach them this valuable gift than through meaningful, interactive play! Now, get out there and play with that beautiful baby of yours!!
What’s your favorite way to play with baby?