Play with Your Baby

As with reading, it is important to spend some time, every day, playing with your baby. The months from birth through one year are filled with constant learning. Your baby is beginning to understand how s/he fits into the world; each little one's senses are wide open to absorb what we, as caretakers, provide.

During the first 3 months of an infant's life they are busy figuring out their own basic systems: eating and sleeping. During these early months they also begin to learn how to smile. The automatic responses their smiles generate from parents and others nearby give babies all the motivation to continue smiling. Each passing week brings a little more control of their muscles, especially those in the neck.

Games to play during these first few months include:

1. Bath time is fun time

Whenever you bathe your baby, you can sing to her/him a familiar tune. London Bridge is Falling Down is easy. Replace the words you would ordinarily sing with these, or something similar: Face and ear lobes, neck and arms, Neck and arms, neck and arms, Face and ear lobes, neck and arms, My fair lady/master!

Another tune is Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. For that one you can sing, Here's the way to wash my child, wash my child, wash my child. Here's the way I wash my child, so early (or select the appropriate time of day) in the morning. As you wash different body parts, change the words - Here's the way I wash your face, wash your face, wash your face, etc. With this song, as with many otheres, the verses can go on as long as you want to continue singing! Remember, these songs don't need to end once your baby hits the 3 month mark - until your little one can name all of her/his body parts, these songs are great!

2. Pigs

This has been one of my favorites ever since my younger daughter was a baby - she just loved the way we played this game. You can do this in the bathtub or anywhere else. Begin the same way, each time. I always start out by asking, "Do you want to do (or play) Pigs?" When the child becomes familiar with this, they will joyfully shriek, because they know what's about to happen! During the game add some significant pauses and silly faces - this is a game for both of you to have fun with. Start out by saying, "This little piggy went to market, (and wiggle the big toe), This little piggy stayed home (with each line, wiggle the next toe). This little piggy had roast beef, This little piggy had none. Pause, pause, usually by this time a toddler with whom you've played this before, will hardly be able to contain themselves. Then racing your hands up to the child's tummy, in a tickling manner, say, THIS little piggy went wee, wee, wee all the way home!

Invariably we've both had so much fun that I ask, "Would you like to do more Pigs?" I'm never disappointed - the answer is always YES!

3. Dance With an Angel

Who wouldn't like to dance with a partner who is guaranteed to never step on your toes? Yes, dancing with your baby, to any kind of music, will be an enjoyable past time for both of you. Singing along with your dance music will be an added benefit. Babies enjoy motion and by being your dance partner they get to see the world from an entirely new vista!

Next: games to play with your baby during their 4th, 5th and 6th months.