Games for babies are very important as they stimulate baby’s development in various aspects. Games for babies have long been ignored and believed to accomplish nothing in baby’s development. Until few decades ago any idea about how a baby’s brain functions was not much known. It was thought that babies could only have physical reflexes. How a baby develops from such a state to a toddler who can utter two letter words in a matter of 1 year was a total mystery until now.
In the recent years, researchers have come to a conclusion that babies are more than just a white paper on which the surrounding environment writes something. In fact, the brains of babies are very much active from a very young age. More or less babies learn things from their environment, their parents, siblings, very close relatives and babies in whom they meet in parks.
New research and MRI studies during pregnancy are showing evidences of reactions to stimulations in mother’s womb. Soon after the baby develops all the required organs, the focus shifts to brain development. Studies show foetus also reacts to stimulation from outside the womb such as the sound of the mother, the sound of the father and other sounds like music.
After the baby is born, the baby gets a lot of stimulation from the parents, particularly from the mother. There are studies which suggest that, as the mother breastfeeds the baby, the warmth of the mother is felt by the baby. Apart from feeding, other stimulations such as holding, playing, carrying, bathing, changing are also important stimulations for a baby.
There would be hardly any benefit if the stimulations become more of a routine or ritualistic. But, if these stimulations can be turned into interesting games for babies, they would stimulate not only brain development but also motor skills, tracking objects with eyes, reaching out for objects, holding them, biting them, sucking on them and such other things.
10 Interesting Games for Babies
When the baby is about 4 months of age, she can hold her head, wave her hands and of course that beautiful giggle is present. During this time, the more time you spend with your baby, the more he or she is stimulated.
- Tickle game: Tickle game is perhaps, one of the easiest games. Tickling, suddenly creates a rush of sensation which turn into giggle. Tickle your baby when you think that he or she is in a good mood. The reward is your baby’s enjoyment of play.
- Singing songs: Singing songs is not a particular game, but a simple rhyming and joy-filled song will make it interesting to your baby. If he or she likes the song, the first response you’d get is a big smile and sometimes she can try making sounds as her trail of singing
- Fly baby game: Babies love to play this game all the time. Normally, the baby is lying on her back and looking up the world around her. But, in this game, the baby is given the opportunity to explore the world around her just as much as adults. Hold the baby in both your hands and slowly do make-shift flying. But, be very careful while playing this game. If the baby has just taken milk or food, then avoid it as it can sometimes cause dizziness or nausea and lead to vomiting.
- Rocking: Some babies also prefer to be rocked back and forth on parent’s arms or on legs. You can sing few songs during this time. This movement also requires to be done carefully. Avoid rocking on legs soon after feeding. Give at least 2 hours of gap before you play this game.
- Pom-Pom game: Pom-Pom game is a simple game that can be played with soft toy balls. You can buy soft toy balls of different colours and show it to your baby. Don’t just give them to the baby, but hold each one of them so that he or she can look at them. Now hold another ball of different colour and now see the reaction to colour changes. Also move the ball across slowly. This movement stimulates colour recognition. You can give the ball to the baby. As you are giving it, the baby also tries to extend arms to grab it. This can be another stimulation for touching and holding objects.
- Where’s the baby?: ‘Where’s the baby’ is a good stimulating game. Take a medium sized thin cloth and cover your baby’s face with it. You can ask, “Where’s the baby?” exclaiming. Then remove the cloth and say, “Here’s the baby”. Now try this on yourself and utter the same words and see how your baby reacts. You can also try this game with few objects that your baby is familiar with.
- Bubble game: Bubbles are simply superb for babies. While bathing, you can make a lot of bubbles and let your baby play with them. Blow some big bubbles and let the baby touch them. They’ll be so excited, that they’d be ready to play this game any time.
- Balloons with elastic strings: Playing with colourful balloons tied with an elastic string is a simple game that your baby might enjoy. You can bounce the balloon in front of your baby’s face back and forth saying, “Boing, Boing”. Your baby would laugh and giggle because something new is coming his way, gently touching him and moving away repeatedly.
- Hide and seek games: Hide and seek games are also good for your baby’s eye tracking. You can show few toys to your baby and cover each of them in a scarf or a big cloth. Now, ask your baby, where is the toy. If the baby is tracking the toy, then he would point to the cloth. After playing few times with few toys, try the game when your baby is not looking at the toy. First time, your baby might get confused, but when you take out the toy from the cloth, he will smile or giggle.
- Storytelling and reading: After your baby is about 1 year or older, you can try reading simple stories. Story reading with your baby can be so much fun. A big book with pictures is ideal for story reading. While reading stories, you can point to the objects or animals in the story and show real objects to them. For example, if there is a mention about mirror in the story, show your baby a mirror in an excited manner and she’ll remember it.
Precautions to be taken while playing with your baby
Playing with your baby can be so much fun, both for you as well as your baby. But, there are chances of running into dangers due to negligence and ignorance in some cases.
- Keep away from polyethylene bags or sheets: Babies have a tendency to see through polyethylene bags and sheets. There is a major risk of your baby covering her face or the total head with bag. This can lead to suffocation. So, keep away not only polyethylene but also paper bags from the reach of your babies and do not encourage your baby to play with them.
- Keep away from sharp objects: Under no circumstances that you give your baby any sharp objects. Pens, pencils, twigs, rolled paper, sharp-edged visiting cards, forks and spoons as well.
- Keep away from strings and beads: Do not let your baby play with any kind of string or thread. There is a risk of entanglement near neck. Also babies have a tendency to put anything in their mouth that they can lay their hands on. Keep away small beads, coins, tiny Lego building blocks of siblings and such other things from the baby.
Source: Masi, Leiderman, Leiderman, Baby Play: 100 Fun-Filled Activities to Maximize Your Baby’s Potential.