Baby sitting guide: 15 baby games. 0 to 12 months

Baby games are serious business. Not only because entertaining a newborn helps baby sitter and mother first of all to pass the time pleasantly, but also and above all because the game has the function of supporting, guiding, stimulating the motor and cognitive development of the child.

If you are a new mother, you will enjoy doing an activity with your baby that extends that special bond you are building through breastfeeding .

If you are or want to become a babysitter for babies , baby games can complement your skills.

Playing with a newborn, or with a slightly older child, is fun for him and for you if the activities you propose are commensurate with his level of development and the things he can do. 

In the following paragraphs we will therefore accompany you step by step and month by month to discover the activities to do with a newborn. We are guided by a fact sheet from the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome on the motor and cognitive development of the child  (the parts of the text that you will find in italics).

Baby games: entertain a baby from 0 to 6 months

Games for babies up to 3 months

In this very early period, the Baby Jesus specialists tell us, ” visual skills develop: up to three months, babies see better when they look at things or faces out of the corner of their eye – peripheral vision – then, gradually, they develop central vision and from three months onwards they begin to look at their hands and can follow with their eyes an object in circular motion “.

In addition, the child recognizes the voice of the mother and of the closest people who care for him. So, between a feeding and a diaper change , you can play:

1. FOLLOW THE OBJECT

With the child lying on his back, move a small, colorful object in front of his eyes from left to right and vice versa. If needed, touch the baby lightly or make a small sound to get his attention.

2. MAKE FUNNY FACES

Stand in front of him, who is always lying on his back, and stick out his tongue, smile, make a thousand joyful expressions that your child can watch and “learn”.

3. FLY FLY

Hold the baby on his stomach on your arm, holding him with the other hand so that his neck and torso are stable. And then, slowly, rock it up and down, as if it were a missile ready to go. Add sounds and verses. The child will be delighted to see the world from other perspectives.

Games for babies 3 – 6 months

In this phase, the newborn begins to integrate what he sees with the stimuli that come to him from the other senses: taste, hearing, touch. And then: ” From three months, the baby’s brain is able to distinguish several hundred words of spoken language “. And then you can play together with:

4. MASSAGE AND NURSERY RHYME

In a moment of calm, perhaps after a bath , lay the baby on a soft blanket, in a warm and welcoming environment. Then he begins to gently massage his legs, arms and belly, all while humming a song or a children’s rhyme .

5. BUILD YOUR MUSCLES

When the baby is awake and calm, place him flat on his stomach: it will serve to strengthen the muscles of the neck and back. To stimulate him, try holding a mirror in front of him: it will stimulate him to get up to look … who? You accompany his efforts with words and smiles and, when you see him tired, put him back on his back. Eye: Babies should never sleep on their stomachs, as we say in our post on how to make babies fall asleep.

6. DANCE

Put on some music that is not too loud, hold the baby close to you and start dancing in time (without too many jolts!). Not only will the baby associate music with the sensation of movement, but – close to you – he will feel comfortably safe and the bonds will be strengthened.

Baby games: activities 6 – 12 months

Play with babies from 6 to 9 months

Three important months for the baby, who learns to sit and then stand on a support and do many other things, such as coordinating the thumb and other fingers to hold the bottle or grasp small objects. “ In the sixth month the link between sound and meaning of words begins to develop “. That is, the language! Here then is a series of games suitable for this age.

7. CATCH THE TOY

Sit down with the child on a nice mat, with a whole range of objects and toys (stuffed animals, soft balls, etc.) close at hand. Instead of immediately handing the objects to the child, place them a little apart, so that he is stimulated to move forward to reach them.

8. THE BABY IN THE BOX

This time instead of on the carpet the baby is in the… box! Choose a cardboard box with low edges, such as a boot box, and have the child sit in there. The toys are out all around, close at hand, but there’s a little effort to get out of the box.

Activities for children from 9 to 12 months

In the three months leading up to his first birthday, the newborn is no longer so “newborn”. And in fact he knows how to interpret the words, gestures, expressions of those who take care of him. He has a memory of past events and is able to control his emotions a little better. From the motor point of view, he is “ sitting without support, probably crawling, learning to stand up on his own and stand up without help. […] From eight to ten months, he shows he understands words, responding to simple orders such as “hello” with his hand or “blow” a kiss “.

So, fun games for 9 months or older babies can be:

10. WHAT IS THIS?

To stimulate the baby to respond to simple verbal requests, you can – while you are putting on his pajamas or after bathing – touch him and name his body parts. The belly, the nose, the forehead, the foot: name them while you touch them. And then you ask: what is this? You answer one more vote for him, meanwhile he is learning. Finally, ask him to touch his belly or head: he will surprise you!

11. COOKWARE

At this age, you don’t need big things to play. The simple games for kids made with what is in the house, are the best. Especially when each object is still a world to discover. Then – always under your closest surveillance – open a low cupboard and let the child explore. Pots, lids, wooden or plastic spoons: everything is fun.

12. THE FIRST CONSTRUCTIONS

We have seen it, among the gifts for children aged 1 or so there are the first constructions. Simple blocks, perhaps in soft fabric or rubber. At first it will throw them away, but slowly you will see that it will begin to associate and build. Welcome to the world of construction, the most open and creative game there is.

DIY montessori games for babies

From Montessori pedagogy, which values ​​the child’s natural instinct for independence, self-regulation and instinct for knowledge, we come up with many ideas for letting babies play. Also ideas of objects and toys to build yourself at home to help the newborn discover their own abilities and the world. In games for babies inspired by the Montessori method, you will have the role of spectator and facilitator, but the newborn (and then the child) will have to do it alone. Just like with Montessori activities for older children.

13. Baby Gobbi Mobile

The carousel – which bears the name of Gianna Gobbi who invented it – is a Montessori toy suitable for babies aged 2-3 months. You can build it yourself by attaching 5 spheres covered with wool threads of the same color but of different shades to a horizontal support. The spheres are hung at different heights, from 10 to 30 cm in height. The Gobbi mobile is useful for stimulating color vision and the perception of depth of field.

14. MULTISENSORY PANEL

If the baby is sitting around 6 months onwards, what better way to entertain the baby than making him sit in front of a panel built especially for him? See the photo for inspiration. The important thing is to glue objects on the wooden board that, due to their shape and material, are able to stimulate all the senses (and that the child can neither detach nor swallow). Hearing bells, wheels and switches, fabrics and cards that are rough or smooth to the touch, marbles and colored ribbons for sight, and so on will do very well.

15. BASKET OF TREASURES

Finally, a classic of games inspired by the Montessori method, the basket of treasures. Very easy to do: just a basket of straw, wicker or wood, filled with simple objects, made of natural materials and different shapes. No plastic, no spikes or pins, no small objects. Yes to sponges, soft brushes, wooden or metal spoons, pine cones, various fabrics … The child will catch them, throw them (do not try to stop him, the child throws the toys on the ground to learn many things, actually!), He will bring them at the mouth by turning them on all sides. Then, it will move on to another and so on. This game is suitable for children from 8/9 months up to 18, plus less.