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101 Baby Activities for Your Little One

Victoria Georgoff
April 1, 2015

Playtime is important for all ages. Here are some baby activities to make the most out of your time with your infant.

 

 

You know how important playtime is for infants and babies; after all, it is through play that your child acquires muscle control, brain development, language and social skills. You could say your baby's only job is to play, and as her parent, it's your job to provide her with stimulating, fun baby activities.

Luckily, this is fun for you both! And you don't need expensive toys or gadgets to play because, in reality, the best thing you can do for your child is to engage with her. According to Dr. Anne Zachry, a pediatric occupational therapist, child development specialist and author of the baby activity book "Retro Baby," "parents are a baby's first teacher, and babies learn through play, so it's critical that parents engage with their children through play." Talking to your baby, engaging in eye contact, singing songs and playing simple games are all things that will benefit her growth and development.

Games and activities are not reserved just for walking, talking toddlers -- infants need plenty of play every day, too. "Play provides an opportunity to build strength in muscles and understanding in the brain of how to interpret a child's environment," says Amy Baez, a pediatric occupational therapist, author and founder of Playapy, "Babies learn from play through simple activities like moving their eyes, to holding their arms up, to holding a bottle, to lifting their heads up off the floor. Each activity is a stepping stone to gaining the foundation for future skills."
 

101 Baby Activities
Are you scratching your head trying to think of fun infant activities for your little one? Here are 101 baby-approved ways to have fun with your infant!
 

  1. Build a tower of blocks.
  2. Beep beep! Drive toy cars making "horn" noises.
  3. Help her roll from back to tummy by shaking a rattle just out of reach in the direction that she's reaching.
  4. Explore water. Fill a sturdy bucket with water, and let her play in it with different toys and cups on the kitchen floor or in the backyard.
  5. Dance with your baby. Hold her on your hip, put on some music and dance and spin with her in your arms.
  6. Take a wagon ride.
  7. Play pat-a-cake.
  8. Play copycat. Copy her faces or gestures, or make a face and watch her imitate.
  9. Look at a photo album, and name the people in the pictures.
  10. Do the hokey pokey.
  11. Play with hand puppets.
  12. Make a sticky ball by wrapping tape tightly around a ball, sticky side out.
  13. Make a ball pit. Fill an inflatable kiddie pool with colored plastic balls, and plop her down right in the middle of them.
  14. Go for a walk in the stroller.
  15. Explore textures by making a sensory bin. Fill a box with scraps of fabric, old scarves, socks, bits of towel and so forth so she can feel the different fabrics and textures.
  16. Play peekaboo.
  17. Roll her on her tummy on an exercise ball.
  18. Finger paint with pudding or yogurt. Let her paint a piece of paper or her high chair tray without worrying about her fingers going in her mouth.
  19. Push her around in a laundry basket or a cardboard box once she has mastered sitting.
  20. Sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider," complete with hand gestures.
  21. Imitate animal noises and movements.
  22. Play "soooo big" and stretch her arms out wide.
  23. Push her in a swing.
  24. If she's walking, chase her saying, "I'm gonna get you!" Then tickle her when you catch her.
  25. Roll a ball back and forth.
  26. Play with large interlocking blocks.
  27. Give her raspberries on her tummy.
  28. Sing "The Wheels on the Bus" and move her up and down, round and round, and back and forth with the lyrics.
  29. Create a simple story about your baby with a theme like "My Family" or "Baby's Busy Day," and use photographs of familiar family members and activities throughout to illustrate it. Laminate pages or keep them in plastic dividers so she can look at it frequently.
  30. Play with stacking cups or measuring cups.
  31. Drop craft sticks or cotton swabs through the holes in an empty Parmesan cheese container to practice fine motor skills.
  32. Touch snow.
  33. Take a push toy for a walk.
  34. Go on a nature walk. Feel the bark on the trees, touch the grass, smell a flower and pick a leaf.
  35. Cut a foam pool noodle into 2-inch wide sections, and let her take a bath with the fun floating pieces.
  36. Play with knob puzzles, placing your hand over hers to help her.
  37. Play with bubbles.
  38. Wade in a kiddie pool.
  39. If your child is walking, take her for a quick walk in a warm, gentle rain shower.
  40. Help her go down an infant slide at the park.
  41. Play with sidewalk chalk.
  42. Make salt dough impressions of her hands and feet.
  43. Play with flashlights in a darkened room.
  44. Tickle her with a feather, a cotton ball or soft, clean paintbrush.
  45. Walk barefoot in the grass.
  46. Look at yourselves in a mirror.
  47. Bounce her on your knees while making silly faces at her.
  48. Spread different toys on her blanket during tummy time to encourage her to reach for them.
  49. Play drums with your hands by banging on overturned plastic bowls.
  50. Teach her body parts by gently touching each one while naming it.
  51. Gently bounce her on her bottom on an exercise ball or your lap.
  52. Drop clothes pins into a milk carton, dump and repeat.
  53. Play with dyed spaghetti noodles. Watch your infant carefully if she isn't yet eating solids.
  54. Crawl through cloth tunnels, or make a tunnel from cardboard boxes.
  55. Play with stickers. On paper or on skin, the sticky texture will amaze her.
  56. Paint with ice cubes. Freeze water with food coloring in it, and melt it on paper or the sidewalk.
  57. Play "This Little Piggy" with her toes.
  58. Put scarves or socks in a paper towel tube, and have her pull them out.
  59. Pick up the puffs. If your baby is eating cereal, place one cereal puff in each square of an ice cube tray and have her pick them out.
  60. Look at pictures together. Expose young infants to contrasting black and white images to improve their visual perception.
  61. Play with a tambourine.
  62. Hide the toy. Cover a toy with a blanket and have her find it.
  63. Make colorful water bottles. Fill empty plastic bottles with colored water, glitter, beads, sequins and other supplies, and let her shake them up.
  64. Pull her gently from a sitting position onto her feet.
  65. Teach her simple hand gestures and baby signs like high fives, blowing kisses and waving bye-bye.
  66. Do finger-play songs like"Open, Shut Them" to learn about opposites.
  67. Make baby-safe cloud dough
  68. Make shadow puppets in the light of a lamp.
  69. Shake it up! Make baby maracas by filling empty water bottles with rice, beans or uncooked pasta.
  70. Finger paint in a bag. Squirt paints in a resealable plastic bag and tape the bag to the table. Let her "paint" by squishing the paint around in the bag.
  71. Teach her to bowl. Roll a ball at 2-liter plastic bottles set up like bowling pins.
  72. Take a rain bath together. Poke several holes in plastic containers, fill with water and hold them overhead, letting the water rain down on your heads.
  73. Count her fingers and toes.
  74. Play in edible sand. If your baby is old enough, make a batch of finely crushed graham crackers in a food processor and let her play in it as you would a sand table.
  75. Give her a gentle massage with lotion.
  76. Play with stuffed animals. Teach her how to gently pet, feed and care for her plush toys.
  77. Explore sticky paper. Secure a piece of contact paper to the floor, sticky side up. Let her walk on it, touch it, place toys on it, drive cars on it and so forth.
  78. Make a baby oil sensory bag. Check out these ideas to get you started!
  79. Fill a resealable bag full with shaving cream. She can explore the cool texture, without fear of ingesting it.
  80. Splash in a mud puddle.
  81. Dig in gelatin. Suspend several toys in a bowl of gelatin and let your baby fish them out with her fingers.
  82. Play with ice cubes in the bathtub. Make several colored ice cubes and let her play with them while they melt in the warm bath, coloring her water, for a fun sensory experience.
  83. Read books, every day.
  84. Play with large bells. String several bells on a ribbon and let her jingle them.
  85. Play with bubble wrap. Tape a large piece of bubble wrap to the ground and let her crawl over it, popping bubbles as she goes.
  86. Pretend to be a rolling pin. Gently roll your baby back and forth like she is rolling out cookies. Repeat if she enjoys the motion.
  87. Crawl over cushions. Make a soft "baby obstacle course" for your crawler with pillows, blankets and cushions.
  88. Give her horsey rides. Place her on your back and gently gallop around the room making horse noises.
  89. Play "which hand?" Hide an object in one hand, and have her find the hidden item.
  90. Feed the birds, ducks or squirrels -- just make sure local laws don't prohibit it.
  91. Wrap some toys up like presents. She'll enjoy the game of unwrapping them.
  92. Scribble on paper. Using the oversized children's crayons, help her draw. You will need to use the hand-over-hand technique to help her grasp the crayon.
  93. Play with alphabet magnets on the fridge. This activity is only appropriate once she is no longer mouthing toys because magnets are dangerous if ingested.
  94. Explore kitchen utensils. Play with them in a bucket of water, or stir food like uncooked pasta in a large bowl.
  95. Play with a funnel. Experiment with water, beans, rice, dried baby cereal or other textures.
  96. Play "super baby." Support your baby on her tummy and walk her around the room like she is flying.
  97. Sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" while helping her touch the corresponding body part.
  98. Pretend to ride a bike. Bicycle your baby's legs round and round in a circular motion, gently and then faster and faster, to her liking.
  99. Match colors. Sort blocks, foam letters or even shirts into piles of different colors, saying the name of each color.
  100. Make a rubber band guitar. Wrap large bands around a shoe box and let her strum them to make music.
  101. Play with rhythm sticks. Use two 3/4-inch round, 6-inch long pieces of doweling. Tap rhythms on buckets or tap the sticks together in a pattern.
     

For even more activities for your little one, try these Activities for Infant That Stimulate the Senses.

Victoria Georgoff is a freelance writer and psychotherapist who enjoys writing about parenting, helping other parents and, of course, being a parent herself. Follow her on Twitter.

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