Babies are little bundles of joy, wonder and happiness. Their curiosity knows no bounds. They are constantly growing and evolving. Therefore, it is important to engage them with age appropriate games to facilitate their mental and physical growth.
In this article, we shall read about the different age appropriate games for babies and the importance of these.
- Newborn- 3 months
- 3-6 months
- 6-9 months
- 9-12 months
- 12-18 months
- 18-24 months
Babies start growing and their development continues from the day they are born. During this stage, your baby likes sensory stimulation, your smiling face, the comfort of routine.
At 2 months, the baby becomes more alert, and the vision develops to the point where moving objects and people can be followed. This makes them interested in gazing at their surroundings.
At this stage, there are a few activities that you can do:
- Hold the baby close and sing to them. Babies also love faces, therefore it will be a great sensory stimulation for them if you look at them in their faces and converse with them.
- While changing a diaper or getting ready for a bath, gently play with your baby’s toes and feet, doing light tickles.
- Around 2 months, the baby might also smile or coo at high-contrast primary colors and patterns placed within their view. It is ideal to hang a simple mobile above the baby’s crib at this stage. The mobile’s motion and colourful patterns will be interesting for the baby.
- By 3 months, the baby may be able to grasp things like a rattle with help.
At 3 – 6 months, babies will:
- talk to you in ‘coos’ and other sounds
- listen to you when you talk, and try to reply
- smile at their own images in mirrors
- reach out to grab things or put things in their mouths.
During this period, some of the games that are essential for their cognitive development are:
- Reading books, singing songs, and reciting nursery rhymes together. Babies enjoy cloth books with different textures, flaps and puppets, which help in their sensory stimulation and brain development.
- Play “What’s that Toy?” by placing a textured toy under your baby’s shirt during diapering or while getting dressed. Talk about what the toy feels like and where it is hidden.
- Teach your baby how to hold, drop and roll different balls. This helps your baby learn about how things move.
- Play with rattles, bells and other toys that make noise that develop their sense of perception of sounds.
- When your baby can sit upright in a highchair or while holding your baby in your lap, allow your baby to hold and explore spoons
- Put toys around your baby to encourage movement, their tactile sense and improve their visual perception of shapes and colours.
- Take your baby on a walk outside. Collect natural items along the way, such as leaves, grass, sticks, acorns, etc. and when you get home, place the items in clear plastic bottles. Let your baby explore the items inside the bottles.
- Show your baby a ball then cover it under one of three plastic cups. Make sure your baby sees which cup you hid the ball under. Next, encourage your baby to grab or tap the cup with the hidden ball under it.
During this period, the baby develops the following qualities:
- Say “mama” or “dada” randomly
- imitate talking sounds like ‘ma’, ‘ba’ and ‘da’
- Learn object permanence ie, the concept that an object or person still exists even after leaving their line of sight.
- respond to their own names
- holds their own bottles or feed themselves finger food
- look at things when you name them, from about eight months.
Therefore, games that target to improve these developmental milestones become important:
- Provide lots of fun bath toys for dunking, measuring, floating and pouring
- Give your baby toys with buttons to push to make things happen, or try activities like shaking or banging objects.
- You can use large but soft objects like pillows and quilts in their crawl paths so they can learn how to manoeuvre around them. This is excellent to improve motor skills.
- Hide and Seek: It is a great game to help your baby understand the concept of object permanence, that is even if an item moves out of the line of vision, it still exists somewhere.
- Play with stacking blocks and toys that your baby can roll or push across the floor.
- When reading with your baby, use different voices for different characters or make the sounds of different animals. This can improve their auditory perception.
During this time, try to withdraw yourself from your baby’s playtime and give your baby the chance to work things out independently. You can assist in your baby’s learning by describing what is happening.This is important for their brain development.
At this age, your baby would be learning how to stand, pull themselves up, climb and so on. Fine motor skills like turning pages are also developing. They may watch others and then repeat the actions they see. They are also starting to say basic words and understand many things they hear.
In this situation, the following games are beneficial:
- Put on some lively music and encourage your baby to bounce or move to the music. Music is a great way to gain control over body movements.
- Play peek-a-boo with the baby.
- Play “Name the Body Part” while bathing or dressing.
- Blow bubbles for your baby to watch. Encourage your baby to try to catch them.
- As your baby learns to walk, you can encourage their mobility by keeping their favourite toy in different locations, so they have to go and get it.
- Have the baby look at their reflection in the mirror and point out each body part.
- Encourage the baby to crawl over, under, and through various objects in your home.
- Introduce babies to new textures through food, toys, clothes, sponges, etc.
- Introduce art and painting to your baby by painting in the bathtub.
- Your baby is now learning that the world around him is ordered. You can show them how to maintain that order by giving toys and other objects and show them how to arrange them by size, colour or shape.
- Make a set of shakers for the car or stroller. Fill small plastic containers with safe materials like rice or dry lima beans.
By 12-18 months, the baby is at their stage of exploration. They start walking and saying their first words. Toddlers are aware of other children, but still may prefer to play alone. Sharing is hard for toddlers and will be learned over time. They are also interested in pretend play.
During this time, the following games are ideal:
- Provide time for your toddler to pretend to feed his/her doll or stuffed animal.
- Provide play food, plates, pots/pans, cups, etc. for your toddler to “cook” with. Pretend to enjoy the imaginary meal too.
- Explore with bath toys, plastic cups, squirters, strainers in the bathtub. Pour water from a cup into the bath from different heights.
- Give your toddler a brush/comb to brush their stuffed animal or doll’s hair.
- Go for a nature walk and collect items (acorns, leaves, sticks, pinecones, etc.) to fill a wagon or bucket.
- Encourage your toddler to throw, push and kick a ball forward. They can also be motivated to run, hop and march to music.
- After reading a favorite story, ask your toddler to act out something a character did.
- Look for books with real pictures of animals and practice making animal sounds together.
- Have your toddler put his/her doll or stuffed animal to bed, covering it and patting the doll or animal’s back.
- Have your toddler color or paint slowly while listening to lullabies or other slow, relaxing or classical music. He/she could also crawl, walk, or dance slowly to the tempo of the music
- Make instruments such as a drum made from an oatmeal container, shakers with paper towel rolls filled with rice with tape over the ends, bells tied to ribbons, etc.
At this stage, the baby is able to walk, run, climb stairs etc. As these skills develop, a new sense of independence emerges. They are also greatly interested in mimicking older adults and role playing. Your toddler might also copy day-to-day tasks such as brushing his/her hair, dressing, and feeding routines. You may find your toddler using objects for different, new purposes, such as using a toothbrush as a brush for their stuffed animal.
During this age, the following games can be adopted:
- Draw a simple map with 3 places (such as your house, a tree and a neighbor’s house) before going for a walk and point out the places on the map as you pass them.
- Read books that encourage movement and singing.
- Move like a variety of animals (ex: jump like a frog, crawl like a bug, etc.)
- Throw and catch a ball outside.
- Play “Follow the Leader” by having your toddler follow you as you march, hop, etc. and then allow her/him to be the leader, following what he or she does.
- Put several items into a bag or a carton, and have your toddler reach in and feel and guess the item. This will stimulate tactile sense.
- Allow your toddler to look at books independently and tell the story to you.
- Play “I Spy” while reading. For example: “I spy something big and blue. What is it?” . This will improve their colour and shape perception.
- During bath time, encourage your toddler to name different body parts as he/she washes.
- Help your toddler to tear or cut out (with appropriate child-size scissors) pictures of food and glue them to make a food collage or book.
- Make pudding together. Help your toddler pour and stir the ingredients. Describe the ingredients and expand your toddler’s language