Activities for Bonding and Learning from Birth to 12 Months
Try these fun games and activities with your children and watch how their eagerness to learn and their relationship with you grow!
Play “So Big.” Ask: “How big is the baby?” Then lift his arms up into the air and say: “Sooooo big!” Babies love this game and will eventually learn to lift their arms in response to your question.
Sound It Out!
Gather several different objects that make distinct noises. Jingle, tap, or shake each one for the baby. If she reaches out to grasp one of the instruments, let her hold it and explore it with her hands. Sensory games like this enhance babies’ tactile awareness and listening skills. Grasping objects encourage fine (small) muscle development.
Cut 3x3 inch squares of fabrics (such as lace) and papers (such as sandpaper) with different colors and textures. Glue each square onto a sturdy piece of paper or posterboard. Let the babies touch each card and explore the texture with their hands. Do they want to hold the cards themselves? Reaching and grasping behaviors show you that babies are now beginning to act on their desires.
Wrap It Up!
Wrap a ball of waxed paper in a scarf and tie it up. Let the children reach for it, grasp it, squeeze and crinkle it. Watch their faces to see if they are interested or surprised by the sounds the package makes. You can put into words what you see on their faces, “Wow! It crinkles and crackles. What’s inside?” Games like this encourage tactile awareness, reaching, grasping, and language development.
On Your Feet!
Gather several pieces of material with different textures. Hold baby upright (with hands under baby’s arms) with baby’s feet touching one of the fabrics. Try a few different fabrics to see which textures she prefers. Sensory games like this enhance your baby’s tactile awareness and body awareness.
Wind at Your Back!
Place baby on a soft blanket on her tummy. Billow a light scarf in the air above her and say, “Feel the wind!” Let the scarf gently fall on her back and then slowly pull it off her. If she likes this activity, try it again but lying on her back this time. The feel of the scarf builds your baby’s tactile and body awareness.
Smush and Squeeze, If You Please!
Cut little fish shapes from a kitchen sponge. Slide them into a gallon-size re-sealable plastic bag. Fill the bag with water (add a few drops of blue food coloring, if you’d like). Place the bag on your baby’s high chair tray and let him touch and squeeze it. The sensory experience of exploring this squishy, cool object will fascinate him…and enhance his growing sense of touch.
Baby In the Mirror!
Hold baby in your arms in front of the mirror. Talk about and point to her body parts—eyes, nose, mouth, arms, etc. Then step away from the mirror and ask, “Where did baby go?” Move back in front of the mirror and say, “There’s the baby!” Hide-and-seek enhances babies’ growing sense of body awareness, or the knowledge that they are separate from you.
Do You Hear It?
Show baby a bell and then gently ring it so he can hear. Sing, “Do you hear it? Do you hear it, baby dear, baby dear? Listen to the bell ring; Listen to the bell ring; Ding, dong, ding; Ding, dong, ding” (to the tune of “Frere Jacques”). At the end of the song, show baby how you hide it behind your back. Slowly bring it out once more, to jingle and sing again. This activity enriches your baby’s auditory awareness.
Get Out Your Umbrella!
Sing “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring” to babies and at the end of the song, drop a handful or two of soft, colorful pompoms over their bellies and chests. How do they like this exciting game? If they look interested—widening their eyes, smiling, kicking arms and legs, try it again. If a baby cries, wait until she’s a little older and try again. The game encourages babies’ awareness of themselves as an individual, separate from you.
You can help babies and toddlers learn and grow by getting to know each child in your care and engaging in activities that match their individual skills, needs, and interests.
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