Playtime: Simple games to play with your baby from birth to six months
Playing is one of the most important ways a baby can learn and develop.
From the moment they enter the world, your baby is trying to make sense of their surroundings and understand what is going on around them; and play is vital to their development.
All babies need some form of play and stimulation in their lives, even newborns, and these are some fun games you can play with your baby which have amazing developmental benefits.
While newborns do spend most of their time eating and sleeping, they are certainly receptive to stimulation such as chatting and playing, and are aware of their surroundings.
Newborns have limited vision, so use toys that you can bring into their line of sight - approximately eight to 10 inches from their face - such as finger puppets and mobiles.
Rattles are also great. Hold a rattle at different sides of their faces, and shake it gently - not too loudly. It may take them some time to figure out where the sound is coming from, but soon you’ll see them turn their head or react.
Games like these stimulate your baby’s sight and auditory senses.
Little babies love the 'Bike Ride' game, having their legs moved in a bicycle movement back and forth. This is really simple; just lay your baby on their back and gently 'pedal' their legs back and forth.
Another great benefit of this game is that it relieves gas pains in their bellies.
Vary the rhythm of the cycles, alternately speeding up and slowing down. The motion strengthens his legs and abdomen, and you can talk to them or sing a song as you 'pedal' along.
By now, your baby’s sight will have sufficiently developed to introduce games that involve following objects with their eyes, and you can try 'flashlight fun'.
Sit in a darkened room with your tot on your lap, and use a flashlight to shine on the wall. Move the beam around, up and down, and watch to see if your baby is following the beam with their eyes.
You can turn this into a bedtime ritual if you like, and tell them a story or sing a lullaby as you shine the flashlight.
Try turning the beam on and off, and see how they react. Games like this stimulate your baby’s vision and their understanding of cause and effect.
Peek-a-boo is another great game for babies of this age.
By now, your baby can play lots of games and is slowly developing the idea of 'object permanence'; the concept of an object still being there even when they can’t see it.
You can have some fun playing hiding games with your little one. Take one of their small toys, and let them see you hiding it under another object, such as a box. Then, ask them where the toy is, and see where they point.
You can make this more fun by using several boxes inside one another, or three different boxes lined up.
Asking your baby a question and giving them time to respond is great for their communication skills, and this game also helps them grasp the concept of 'object permanence'.