Thursday, September 21, 2006

Games to Play with Baby

By Heather Pohlabel

Do you think that your newborn baby is not ready to play games with you yet? Think again! Babies as young as a few weeks old are ready to interact with their parents by playing games! Here is a list of games that you can play with your newborn and can continue playing for years to come.

"Peek A Boo" is a classic, timeless game that both young babies and older children enjoy. It is not advisable to play peek a boo with a newborn baby by hiding your face or theirs, but since their vision is still developing, moving closer to their faces as you say "peek a boo" will help them to focus, and you will also be introducing them to near and far. They will hear your voice get louder as you get closer, and as you place more emphasis on the last two syllables. Younger babies will be drawn to the closeness and your voice. As your baby ages, she will enjoy seeing you pop out from behind a blanket or enjoy seeing her favorite stuffed animal become animated as it disappears and reappears with an emphatic "peek a boo". Take time to further your conversation and say "I see you" and add your baby's name at the end. The constant repetition of her name will help her learn it and respond to it over time.

"Got 'ya!" is a game with many variations. This game usually begins when your baby is a newborn and you are trying to keep her awake for longer periods of time. You may touch her nose and say "I got your nose", or grab a toe and say "I got your toe". Often parents do this with tummies as well. This just stimulates your newborn, draws her closer to your face and expressions, and lets her feel you as you touch her. As your baby ages, she will begin to recognize that the part you are getting is her nose or her toes or her tummy. This game even works well with toddlers, as they tend to run away a lot. "I got 'ya" can be a fun and stress-relieving way for you to retrieve your run away toddler. At this stage, this game is often accompanied by tickles.

Tickles make almost every child smile or giggle, as long as the tickles are not done roughly. My father used to try to tickle me, but it always hurt. It took years for me to allow my husband to tickle me because I immediately thought it was going to hurt me. If you gently tickle your newborn, she will respond with smiles and soft coos and eventually some giggling. Older babies will really get to smiling and laughing when you tickle their feet, underarms, bellies, and necks. Just remember to be gentle, and your child will grow to be an adult who still likes to be tickled occasionally. It's a sure fire smiler!

Piggies is a variation of "got 'ya". We begin this game by "getting" the toes. Then we start "getting" each toe individually and wiggling it. This helps baby realize she has feet and they have senses! We eventually work our way up to the little story that goes with the toes: "This little piggy went to market; this little piggy stayed home; this little piggy had roast beef and mashed potatoes; this little piggy had none, and this little piggy went wee - wee - wee - wee all the way home!" Home is the nose and you walk your fingers from the toes to the nose during the "wee - wee - wee - wee - all the way home" portion of the rhyme. Not everyone says roast beef and mashed potatoes - you can say whatever you want here. We used to change this up all the time for our daughter, who wanted to do piggies all the way until she was five!

There are many many games that you can play with your children these are a few classic examples that can be started with your newborn and played together for years. The most important thing to remember is that your baby needs contact with you. It is from you that she will learn virtually everything she needs to know, so start off right and stimulate her little mind and body with fun games!

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