You know those old-fashioned baby rhymes that grandmas everywhere seem to have up their sleeve when there’s a new baby in the family? And it’s always the same old favourites?
Well there’s a good reason these classic baby games have stood the test of time - you can do them anywhere, they’re great for development and babies love them! So here are four of the best.
At a glance
- Playing games with your baby can really help with development
- Physical games help build muscular strength
- All are important tools to develop language and socialisation skills
Crucial to development
You are your baby's best 'toy' - in fact, you’re essential to their play and learning. And having some fun with these classic games will help your baby go from strength to strength.
Babies really love this when they get to about four months. This is when they’re getting to grips with the idea of ‘object permanence’ – the realisation that things don’t stop existing just because they’re out of sight. At first your little one will be fascinated as you pop up from behind your hands – just don’t make it too sudden or loud! And by six months, they’ll be giggling and playing along with you.
Lap games are great exercises in early language development and pattern recognition. You can start them as soon as your baby’s old enough to hold up their head. Just sit your baby on your lap and gently jiggle them up and down while you sing a song or chant a rhyme – it doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as there’s a rhythm and a rhyme. Surprise them gently at the end by dipping them down between your knees. The older and more robust your little one gets the more exciting or surprising you can make the final dip!
This is great for babies who can sit up – so it’s ideal from around six months. You might start out clapping their hands for them as you say the rhyme, but from nine months your baby will have the coordination skills and spatial awareness to start clapping on their own. The complex task of sitting on your lap while clapping helps babies strengthen their backs and improves their balance.
Row row row your boat
This game can help strengthen their back and neck in the early months, and it’s great for when they can finally sit up too. Put your baby on their back, propped up on a cushion. Sit facing them, grasp their hands and gently pull them up into a sitting position. (Their head should follow his shoulders, but don’t let it fall back.) As you sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," pull each of their arms in a gentle rowing motion before lowering them slowly back down onto the pillow as you sing the “Merrily merrily merrily” part.