5 Fun Baby Games Kids Can Play With Their Younger Siblings
Have an older child, but aren't sure how to let him interact with your baby? Here are some games your big kid can play with your newest addition.
Most big siblings love to play with their younger siblings, especially babies -- but older kids don't always understand the appropriate ways to play with their baby brother or sister, which makes safety a huge issue. The key is constant adult supervision and a bit of instruction, according to Nancy Bradley, the owner of Nancy Bradley Early Childhood Ed in Madison, Wisconsin.
"Say things like, 'Be gentle,' and take your older child's hand and show them how to gently touch the baby," says Bradley. You can also involve in your older child in fun baby games that will entertain them both -- safely.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Play Peekaboo
Best for babies and kids of all ages. This game is a perennial favorite. Instruct your older child to sit directly in front of baby, who should be sitting in an infant seat or high chair. The big sibling places his own hands over his own eyes (not over the baby's!) and says "where's [name]?" Then, as he lifts his hands from his eyes, he says "peekaboo!" Teach your older child not to scare or startle the baby, but to play a happy and interactive game together.
- Chant Sounds
Best for babies at least 4 months old and toddlers and up. According to Dr. Renate Zangl, developmental psycholinguist and author of "Raising a Talker," this game is a developmental powerhouse, working on visual discrimination, auditory discrimination, sound learning, cognitive skills and social skills in your little one. Just as in peekaboo, your older child sits in front of the baby in the infant seat. Then, she makes a funny sound to get the baby's attention. Once she has baby's attention, she makes an exaggerated "O" sound, attempting to get the baby to respond back. After a few repetitions of the "O" sound, she can switch to a new sound to keep the baby interested in the game, such as an "E" sound. Have your child alternate how she says the sounds -- like sometimes using a higher pitch, then a lower pitch -- to help keep the baby's attention.
- What's Hidden?
Best for babies who are at least crawling and preschoolers and up. Have your older child hide some noise-making toys -- such as some ducks that squeak, your keys that jingle and a bell that rings -- in shoe boxes without the lid. Spread out the shoe boxes on the floor and let your older child help the baby discover the hidden treasures in the boxes. As your little one discovers the items, your older child can name the items and display how they work. According to Dr. Zangl, this activity helps both children develop their language, social and fine motor skills.
- Challenge Crawlers to a Musical Obstacle Course
Best for babies who can crawl and older kids of all ages. Set up a simple obstacle course, using tunnels, pillows, a cardboard-box tunnel, balls, cones or whatever you have lying around. Turn on some kid-friendly music and let the older child lead way around the obstacle course. When you shut off the music, all kids have to stop. If he's old enough, your baby might automatically mimic your older child and try to stop, but it might take a few run-throughs to get the idea. According to Amy Baez, a pediatric occupational therapist and the owner of Playapy, little ones love crawling through tunnels and over pillows -- and the music adds another fun element to the mix.
For more on kids and music, check out "Music Lessons and Activities for Kids."
- Read With the Baby
Best for babies of all ages and grade-school kids and up. Sit your baby in an infant seat or high chair. Instruct your older kid to read a picture book to the baby. Use a familiar song book, such as "The Wheels on the Bus" or "Old MacDonald," to keep the baby's interest and make it easier on your big kid to remember the correct words. Your baby will love being read to by her big sibling, and your older child will gain valuable reading skills.
Playing fun baby games together can make your children's sibling attachment grow stronger, so encourage your kids to interact often -- but always be sure to supervise all activities to keep things safe.
Want some games for you and your little one? Try these 101 Baby Activities.
Rebecca Desfosse is a freelance writer specializing in parenting and family topics.