Games to play with babies up to 12 months – TRIED AND TESTED.

First of all, I’ll add that each toy has a different design and usage for different ages, safety and development so every child is unique and will eventually be able to do things when they are able to. I’ve just compiled some of the toys we have used that they enjoy just in case anyone ever wondered if they were worth trying.

 

 

Games to play with your baby under three months

For the first three months, your baby isn’t able to do much more than observe their surroundings as vision is still blurry so they see bright, boldly patterned items best. I heard black and white is great as the colours contrast. As your baby grows, they’ll enjoy toys that engage their other senses as well which is why so many toys are designed to promote interaction in a variety of ways, such as, squeaking or crinkling noise, have a nubby texture and be soft and cuddly. Infants tend to like mouth toys and textured ones can help relieve teething pain.

Newborns don’t play intentionally but there are still lots of fun activities that you can do with your baby to promote their development. Maintain eye contact and exaggerate facial expressions when ‘playing’ with very young children. As you pass milestone such as a first smile and a first giggle you’ll find it becomes second nature to play with your child but it is never too early to start.

Music fun

Put on a CD and help your baby clap hands, clap feet, bicycle his legs. Show your baby how you clap hands, wriggle fingers, twirl, and bob up and down.

Foot Tapping

Lie your baby safely on their back. Tap the bottom of your baby’s feet gently in time to a song that you are singing for example Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Scarf rainbow

A lovely sensory game for very young children, this game involves scrunching up some very light material (chiffon scarves are perfect) and throwing it up into the air, letting it open out and drift gently down onto the baby lying on his back. Try throwing more than one scarf at the same time. As the baby develops, he will start reaching out for the scarf as it approaches.

Looking in the Mirror

Hold your baby in front of a mirror so they can explore what they look like.

Mobile

Hang colourful, and black and white things, things that move, and things that make noise over your baby’s cot. Tie securely and don’t use anything small that could be a choking hazard.

Looking fun

Babies learn by watching. Take your baby outside and hold them where they can see things moving – streamers, trees, washing on the line.

Aeroplanes

Let your baby follow things with their eyes – move your face, a rattle, or a coloured toy in front of them. Play aeroplanes with your hands – fly through the air and land on your baby’s tummy!

3 – 6 months

Singing

Sing and help your baby do action songs: Twinkle Twinkle Little StarIncy Wincy SpiderPut a Spot Over HereRound and Round the Garden etc.

Exploring and touching

Give your baby safe objects from around the house to explore the shapes and textures – plastic things from the kitchen, pots and pans, paper, empty tins with lids, velvet, fur, lace, towelling, cardboard, fine sandpaper etc.

Make a book

Make a ‘feely book’ by gluing textured objects onto squares of cardboard – punch two holes in the side of each square and make them into a book by securing with string or shower curtain rings – easy to take out with you!

Listening fun

Use rice, pasta or a bell to fill a plastic container – make sure the container is well sealed. Shake to your baby’s side or behind baby and see if they can find it.

Looking and Movement

Lay your baby down on a rug. Hold a toy to your baby’s side and fly it over their head and land on the other side so your baby can follow the toy with their eyes.

 


 

Toys to try

They may love up to a year 

  • Rattles
  • Unbreakable mirrors
  • Floor gyms
  • Activity boards.
  • Linking Rings
    These rings from Bright Starts are easy to keep in a purse or diaper bag for a quick playtime.
     
  • Activity Gym
    Arched gyms can be used early and are one of the first toys for 3-month-old babies. The soft blanket base ensures a clean, safe place for your baby to play while the hanging toys give your baby something to look at and reach for.
     
  • Blanket
    While you may not think of a blanket as a toy, it is an important plaything for babies. Whether you want to play peek-a-boo or hide a toy, blankets help children develop the idea that things continue to exist even when out of sight.

 

First born – they love music! Infants experience a complex world in which sounds, lights and sensations vary constantly. The baby’s job is to recognize the patterns of activity and predict what’s going to happen next. Pattern perception is an important cognitive skill, and improving that ability early may have long-lasting effects on learning.

 

Soft toys that make sound when they learn to shake things.  They can hold them close and cuddle them. This warmth offers the comfort and security often needed when children are tired or placed in a situation of needing to cope with change. Soft toys become close friends, providing love and stability.

 

 

Even my older children love this – it shows the designs above them when the room is dark and is soft. We even have one that plays music! Ok, we have three of them!
Babies love to see their reflections – your baby won’t realize that they’re looking at their own reflection until somewhere around 9 months of age.
Little Tikes and Nuby toys – Great for teething, touch and feel. Great for teething and soothing.

 

 

Babies like to see things they are always looking! So little floor matts are a must so they are safe when you want to do something.

 

This is my eldest as a newborn seeing and feeling new sensations such as music and vibrations.

 

Making music and seeing pretty colours stimulates babies.
Musical book – pictures, music and song lyrics perfect for a 6 month old and above.

 

6 – 9 months

Where’s Teddy?

Hide a toy in one room of the house and carry your baby from room to room saying ‘Where’s teddy’ and telling them what rooms you are looking in.

Roll the ball

Roll a soft, brightly coloured ball to your baby and teach them how to stop it and push it back to you.

Using feet

Hang rattles or similar noise-making toys where your baby can kick them, or put socks with securely attached bells ob your baby’s feet so they make noise when they move their feet.

Noise and Movement

Fill empty plastic bottles that will roll with small/colourful/noisy things eg. bells, scrunched coloured paper, small stones. Secure lids tightly.

9 – 12 months

Music from the kitchen

Make fun instruments from up-turned pots and pans with wooden spoons, or two saucepan lids for cymbals. Use your instruments to explore different concepts such as loud and soft, fast and slow.

Water fun

A great summer activity! Fill a low, wide container with a few centimetres of water and place it on the ground. Float small objects such as flowers or corks in the water and let your baby reach and splash. Always supervise children when playing with water.

Toys overboard!

Using elastic, tie small soft toys to the top of your baby’s high-chair. Show them how you drop the toys and pull them back up again.

Reading fun

Sit your baby on your lap and read stories with simple action words and pictures. Stories with repetitive phrases are fun, like ‘Run, run, as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread man!’.

Hide and Seek

Show your baby a toy, then hide it under a towel or small blanket and help them find it.

Outside fun

Take your baby into the back yard or to the park. Let your baby feel different surfaces, let them sit and crawl on the grass, feel stones and leaves with supervision – some objects can look like a tasty treat!

 


 

A baby is fascinated by cause and effect and will enjoy any toy that responds to their actions and makes use of newly acquired motor skills. They’ll love toys that allow them to hit a ball with a hammer as well as toys with buttons that cause music to play or characters to pop up.

They are too young to actually learn ABC’s but will still enjoy interacting with these toys and being exposed to language, my children have all been read to and have all loved it. Just being with you is enough.

They learn hand eye co-ordination from about 12 months old. Fine motor skills are the small, fine tuned movements we use to participate in more complex activities like writing, using silverware, and stacking blocks. Your child’s ability to interact in block play shows off these relatively new fine motor skills.

Toys to try from a year old:

  • Stacking rings
  • Nesting cups or boxes
  • Push- or pull-toys that make noise or have pieces that pop up or move
  • Balls through holes
  • Simple, sturdy musical instruments like tambourines, drums, or maracas
  • Shape sorters
  • Puzzles with four or five pieces
  • Rubber ducks or toy boats for bathtime

 

This helps with the pincer Grasp – the use of the pincer grasp is the beginning of your child’s developing dexterity, and is important in allowing them to take part in manipulative play. The pincer grasp describes the grasp your child uses when they pinch an object between their thumb and forefinger. You’ll see your child using this grasp when they pick up blocks and stack them, and it gives them much more control than grabbing with their palm.
Stacking in size and learning colours, from 18 months! It teaches a variety of things such as: Hand Eye Coordination – interacting with and stacking building blocks or nesting cups is a sign that your child has developed good hand eye coordination. Hand eye  coordination is the ability to take sensory input from the eyes and translate it to motions with the hands in order to navigate the world. This skill is essential to many daily life activities that your child will need to participate in as an adult.
Music is the best, so as soon as they can press buttons this is a winner.
My son loves all things cars! From 12 months and above. Wooden or plastic toys, I love wooden but all equally as fun.
Who doesn’t turn into a DJ on these though? Music teaches creativity and stimulates the brain – it’s also fun!
Touch and feel books ‘that’s not my…’  Studies have also shown that children who were read to as newborns have a larger vocabulary, as well as more advanced mathematical skills, than other kids their age. There’s also a direct link between how many words a baby hears each day and her language skills. One study found that babies whose parents spoke to them a lot scored higher on standard tests when they reached age 3 than children whose parents weren’t as verbal. This is my 7 year old reading!

5 Home made ideas

Activity 1: Sensory play with everyday objects

Pick some interesting objects that you have to hand – ones with interesting and varying colours, textures, sounds – and then show them to baby.

Remember safety first and only chose safe items that you are happy for your child to touch and potentially put in their mouth, throw around, etc.

 

Activity 2: Sensory fun painting – with safe and edible baby paint.

The “paint” is yoghurt which is edible and safe (although, of course check ingredients and make a decision about whether the product is safe for your child). We used:

  • Natural plain yoghurt as the paint. If you want to make colours you could add natural colouring by mixing in crushed up fruits (e.g. raspberries, blueberries), or food colouring if you don’t mind baby tasting it.
  • A large piece of cardboard or something to protect the floor like a plastic sheet or old sheet. It also makes it easy to clean up because you can just wipe it off after.
  • Paper to paint on. 

 

Activity 3: Colour matching activity idea

Activity 4: Turn off the lights (and then put some other lights on!)

Project lights onto the ceiling and walls, it really captivates attention.

Create this at home with:

  • fairy lights
  • a torch
  • a mirror ball light
  • any light up toys, lamps or equipment you have

Activity 9: Tray play, or treasure basket

Put together a tray or basket of toys, objects, materials, and let baby explore. Read more about the theory behind Treasure Baskets and the what, why and how, here, and what some of the psychological theory and literature says about why Treasure Baskets might be useful things to use with babies. This is just about thinking about how to present toys to baby and mixing it up a bit.


As a new parent, it can be difficult to know what to do with your baby – what ‘games’ are appropriate at what age, what activities will help stimulate and develop your baby at an age-appropriate rate.

Honestly, between feeding and sleeping you probably hadn’t even considered ‘playing’!

But don’t stress – playing with your baby is probably something you’re doing anyway! It is fun for both of you and a great way to bond.

 

Click this link for professional advice on all different stages

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