One of the things I struggled with once I brought my baby home, especially as he got older, was how to engage him and play with him. I wanted to have meaningful one-on-one time with him, but I honestly wasn’t sure what to do. I’ve slowly started figuring out what works and found fun activities to do with a baby. This has allowed me to have better quality time with my son, and each of these activities will help your baby to learn and grow.
Peek a boo
Peek-a-boo is a classic baby activity and an effective one at that. My son absolutely loves this game. His giggle is my favorite part. You can play with your hands, but you can also use a small blanket or buy some scarves. It seems simple, but this is actually one of the baby activities that my pediatrician would encourage us to do.
Babies typically love hearing you sing, even if you’re not great at it. It’s so much fun to hold them and sing to them. My son is always engaged and coos at me, which is just amazing. If you’re not sure what to sing, you can pull up kid’s songs on Spotify or YouTube and sing along. Gentle or fun adult songs also work. They don’t understand them, so what does it matter? Also, I just make up gibberish a lot of the time. Sometimes, when he’s getting fussy in his high chair, I’ll sing to him what I’m doing as I make his food. Just make something up. They just want to hear your voice.
This is one of the best activities for babies, and it’s kind of a gimme. The colorful pictures and your voice will engage them, and it’s so great for their development. Get in the habit of reading books regularly to your baby, and you can make it part of your bedtime routine once they’re older. It’s so important to encourage a love of reading, and it’s just fun. If they don’t really have the patience for full reading, then you can just point to different things on the page and name them.
This might seem really basic, but it’s honestly my son’s favorite thing. I just sit there and talk to him, and he gets calm and happy. He just loves watching people talk. Sometimes, when he’s really fussy and I’m not sure what to say to him, I’ll just call my mom and talk to her. He calms down and just watches me talk. They love it because it’s interesting to them, and they want to mimic you. This is also a great way to encourage babbling and, therefore, future speech.
Supervised tummy time
Supervised tummy time is so important! It’s absolutely essential to a baby’s physical development. They need to practice holding their head up, moving their head from side to side, and eventually, pushing themselves up with their hands. Tummy time is what builds up all the muscles that allow them to do all sorts of crucial motor skills later. You can start it early with just a minute or so at a time a few times a day. Eventually, you’ll start slowly building up this time to 20 minutes or more a day. Now that my son’s older, he spends a good part of his day on his tummy.
Once your baby is a little older, bubbles are one of those great activities to do with a baby. Buy a bubble wand and blow small bubbles around. You can watch your baby have fun watching the bubbles float around, and it can just be so funny when they pop. Once they’re able to walk around, bubbles can be even more fun and engaging. You can even buy a bubble machine and watch them chase the bubbles around.
Ziploc bag painting
This is another baby activity that’s for babies who are a little older. You can fill a Ziploc bag with paint and let them have fun painting with their fingers. I recommend putting them in a high chair for this activity. During the fall, you can modify this activity with pumpkin guts, which is a great Halloween activity too.
When they’re little, sensory bottles (as opposed to sensory bins) are great for engaging your baby. You can fill the empty bottle with fun things like sand, glitter, and small toys. For example, for Christmas, you can fill the bottle with red and green glitter and little bells. Just take a plastic water bottle, fill it with fun stuff, and make sure the lid is on super tight. Keep an eye out for signs of wear or cracks though. The last thing you want is glitter all over your floor.
Whipped cream play
Once your baby can sit well in a high chair and play on the tray, whipped cream play is just so much fun. Spray a little whipped cream on the tray and let them play around with their hands. This one’s a bit messy, but it’s so much fun to watch them play with it, and it’s safe because there’s no danger if they suck on their hands (which they will). Once they’re much older and there’s no danger of them eating it, you can do this activity with shaving cream.
Babies absolutely love mirror time. You even include this into tummy time as a way to make the activity more fun and encourage them to raise their head. Put out a safe mirror that they can look at and touch. Babies don’t have the ability to recognize themselves, so they enjoy staring at mirrors and interacting with them.
You’ll have to rotate these baby activities, and you’ll probably go through half of them every day. Babies don’t have very long attention spans, but that’s okay. A lot of these activities to do with a baby are fairly low effort and don’t require much. It’s as they get older that you’ll probably need to invest more time into coming up with more involved activities to engage them. But for right now, they’ll just love watching you talk and sing.
Are there any activities that you love doing with your baby? Comment below and let me know!
Erin Lafond is a writer, website creator, and mom. She survived new motherhood by Googling things a lot, calling her mother, and embracing trial and error. Now, she shares her knowledge with all new moms. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and son (soon to be two sons!).