Your baby’s favourite thing to play with is you! Through play your baby’s brain and body develop and they learn new skills.
Play time is also a great opportunity for your baby to experience a variety of positions. This can include being held in your arms, sitting in a baby swing or bouncer, and lying on their tummy. Learn more about having fun in tummy time with your baby.
Great play ideas for you and your baby
Playing with your baby is all about spending time face to face and talking together.
Music and movement
Whether you are singing to your little one, playing musical instruments together or dancing to your favourite song, your baby will be learning through watching and listening to you. They will also be practicing how to move their body.
Your baby loves to hear your voice. Children’s songs and rhymes are fantastic as they are melodic and engaging for your baby. They repeat key words and concepts and help your little one learn what words mean.
Singing to your baby isn’t about entertainment, but rather about the interaction. So watch your baby’s face and notice how they respond. Show your little one the actions and repeat their favourite songs.
Singing to your baby can be fun and exciting, or calming and comforting, depending on your song choice. Through children’s songs your baby can learn many new words and concepts such as actions, body parts, animal names and sounds, and the names of items of clothing.
Great ideas for music and movement are:
- Homemade instruments
- Peek-a-boo songs with light scarves
- Dancing together to your favourite song
- Singing children’s songs with actions together with your baby
Sit with your knees up and your baby facing you, watching your face. Talk to them about what they are doing (yawning, frowning, smiling, wriggling). Use an animated voice as you talk and leave moments of silence for you baby to respond.
Explore objects together
There are many objects that you can find at home that are safe for your baby to explore. Think about how different objects stimulate your baby’s senses. For example, take your baby for a walk outside. Talk about the breeze on their skin, the noise of the barking dog and the smell and feel of the leaves on the eucalypt trees.
Read books together
Sit with or lie next to your baby and share books together. Choose children’s books with bright simple pictures and not too many words. Talk about the pictures and what you can see. Choose durable board books and have them out at play time with your child’s other today. Take books with you wherever you go – to the shops, in the car, on the bus. Check out these great book ideas for babies.
Bath time is a fun time to play with your baby. Your baby will be using many of their senses as they play in the water – feeling the warm water on their skin, listening to the sound of the tap running, smelling the fragrance from of the soap, watching your face as you hold them in the water. Talk about what you are doing with your baby – “wash your tummy”, “pour the water”, “nice and warm”. Sing bath time songs like ‘this is the way we wash your tummy’ and ‘everybody washing’.
You will find yourself dressing your baby and changing their nappy many times a day, and what better time than to play! Take time when you dress and undress your baby to talk about their body parts and concepts like “on” and “off”, “clean” and “dirty”. This is also a great time for tickle games and blowing raspberries on that gorgeous tummy!
Want to know more?
Raising Children Network – homemade toy ideas
Frequently asked questions
Why does my baby get cranky after we have been out and other kids have been around?
Your baby can get overstimulated with lots of noise, sights and new experiences. Read more on overstimulation.