1. Babies
  2. Play & learning
  3. Play ideas

Playing with your baby

3-12 months

Babies find out about the world, and their place in it, through play and exploration. Play is fun, but it’s also vital for your baby’s learning, development and wellbeing. Here are fun, stimulating and safe baby play ideas and baby games for you and your baby to try together.

You can read this article in a selection of languages other than English.

What to expect from baby play

For babies, play means you. Your face, touch and voice are your baby’s most exciting and interesting playthings, and your loving relationship with your child is the foundation of her learning, development and overall wellbeing.

Babies love moving their arms and legs and they’ll reach out to touch everything – your face, toys, pets and brothers and sisters! This is how babies explore their world.

Babies are figuring out how things work in their world. For example, when your baby shakes a rattle it shows him that he can make things happen. This makes him keen to see what else he can do.

As your baby grows, play becomes more active. Your baby might start pulling out drawers, dropping cereal onto the floor, pushing any button she can find and putting toys where they don’t belong. This is how your baby figures out how things work, and it’s all normal.

Sometimes your baby wants to be in charge when he’s playing and likes you to follow his lead. Other times your baby might want to try something on his own. It’s good to encourage your baby to take the lead in play, but you’ll need to take control if the play puts him in danger or at risk of injury.

Your baby isn’t aware of danger so dangerous things can look like fun to her. Now’s the time to think about making your home a safer place for a baby on the move. 

Baby play ideas and baby games

The best toy for your baby is you, and the best baby game is playing with you. This means that baby play is simple.

Here are some fun play ideas for you and your baby:

  • Blow raspberries, poke out your tongue, make faces or try a game of peekaboo. Because babies love faces, these are all good ways to play with your baby.
  • Make some noise together. Sing all kinds of songs, both loud and soft, and fast and slow. You can hit pots and pans loudly or shake rattles or bells.
  • Make a safe place in your home that encourages movement and play. This lets your baby practise skills like sitting up, crawling, pulling up, cruising and walking.
  • Give your baby different things to touch – smooth-skinned apples, rough toy blocks or a cold ice cube. Babies also love touching different parts of your face, and having you touch theirs.
  • Sing simple nursery rhymes like ‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star’. Your baby will also enjoy hearing nursery rhymes and traditional songs from your own culture and language. Rhymes or songs that involve actions or touch are particularly enjoyable for babies.
  • Have a ‘conversation’ with your baby. Talk or make other sounds, and wait for him to respond – your baby might surprise you with how much he has to say!
  • Read with your baby. Reading together can be a special time with your baby, even if your baby wants to read the same story over and over again. Hearing the same story many times is a way for your baby to learn about language.
Play is about having fun. Your baby will use body language to tell you if she wants to keep playing or if she’s tired and wants quiet time. 

Languages other than English

Rate this article (103 ratings)

Tap the stars to rate this article.

Thanks for rating this article.

Last updated or reviewed
19-03-2018

  • Tell us what you think
  • References
 
 

Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

Follow us

© 2006-2018 Raising Children Network (Australia) Ltd