Category Archives: GAMES FOR BABY

movement based games for baby


YouTube Preview Image


The motor skill of nesting or stacking objects, such as cups, can be developed through baby play with simple household objects as well as baby toys. Nesting refers to objects that fit one inside of the other.  For example, measuring cups in your kitchen are nested on inside of the other so they fit tightly in one stack.  However, they have to be placed in the stack in an orderly manner from the smallest size on top to the largest size on the bottom.  Play with a stack of cups may be easier for a baby because they can be stacked without the additional skill of determining the order by the object size.  Although the skill of nesting objects usually emerges after babies turn one year old and are technically “toddlers,” they will enjoy the “unstacking” part of the skill before they reach their first birthday.  Try adding some stacking bath toys to bath time. The skill of nesting demands coordination as they use one hand to hold one object steady while the other hand places another object on top of or inside of the object they are holding.


Babies can play for long periods of time with kitchen items.  A set of nested measuring cups (with the connecting ring removed for safety) or a set of nested mixing bowls are great for baby play.  In the above video from MaryAnn MamaSmilesblog’s youtube channel, a baby explores how many plastic cups could fit tightly together, one inside of the next.  She also discovers how many pieces (cups) are in the stack of cups by separating each cup out of the stack or nest.  At the end of the video she picks up the entire stack as one piece.  Through her play she has explored how one “object” can become many separate pieces.  She also explores how the relationship between these pieces changes.  This stack of plastic cups is an inexpensive toy that provides excellent play and exploration.  Always supervise baby play because plastic cups can break, exposing sharp corners.


YouTube Preview Image


As babies become more skilled with their movements, we can begin to teach them concepts regarding spatial orientation.  These concepts are more easily learned when taught in context with their opposites.  For example, it is easier to grasp the meaning of “up” when it is learned with “down,” or “inside” when learned with “outside,” and “hot” when learned with “cold.”  When the differences between two words (what they represent) is enormous, it is easier to understand.  The nursery rhyme “Roly Poly” is a classic song for teaching babies and toddlers the concepts of a few “opposites.”


“Roly Poly” is also an excellent song for speech development in babies because most of the words repeat in patterns of three, making it easier for baby to try and grasp the pronunciation.  These words are short, “Up,” “Down,” “In,” “Out,” and “Clap.”   Watch the above video from Mother Goose Club’s youtube channel.  The young girl demonstrates arm movements along with the rhyme, and you can try these movements with baby’s arms.  You may want to avoid trying to put her hands behind her back, though.  She also demonstrates very clear articulation of the words by exaggerating them with her mouth and lips.  This helps baby learn how to speak.  Try exaggerating the movements of your mouth as you speak the rhyme with baby.  Your face will be close to hers as you move her arms, so she can see how you are creating these interesting sounds.


Roly Poly, Roly Poly

Up, Up, Up

Roly Poly, Roly Poly

Down, Down, Down

Roly Poly, Roly Poly

In, In, In

Roly Poly, Roly Poly

Out, Out, Out

Roly Poly, Roly Poly

Clap, Clap, Clap

Roly Poly, Roly Poly

Hands Behind Your Back.


YouTube Preview Image


Baby songs often involve hand gestures, which babies love!  The song “Wind The Bobbin Up” is a fantastic rhyme to sing to baby while teaching her to bring her hands in front of her.  If your baby makes the airplane movement in tummy time (where she puts her arms straight out to the side and lifts them off of the ground), try this game with her.  You might try playing this game with baby when she is in the high chair.  The first few lines of the song are the most important, so you can want to just focus on those lines to begin.  The above video from Daviddesu’s youtube channel shows the hand and arm movements very clearly.  As baby plays with her hands and arms in front of her she will find it easier to bring them in front of her when she is in tummy time.  The pattern of bringing the hands toward each other will be more familiar to her as she plays this game.  For older babies and toddlers, this is a great rhyme for them to learn to do some of the gestures on their own as they join in to the song.  They can follow your lead.


According to wikipedia, this rhyme can be traced back to the 1890′s in Yorkshire.  Here are the lyrics for you to learn:

Wind the bobbin up, Wind the bobbin up,

Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap.

Wind it back again, Wind it back again,

Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap.

Point to the ceiling, Point to the floor,

Point to the window, Point to the door.

Clap your hands together, 1, 2, 3,

Do a roly-poly, put your hands upon your knee.


YouTube Preview Image


One of our favorite songs for babies is “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”  This is a fun song to introduce to babies around the age of 10 months or older.  Toddlers enjoy this song as well.  Babies learn the names of these body parts as you sing the song and gently place your hands on baby as you sing.  Watch the above video from Muffin Song’s youtube channel.  It is an easy song to learn because the lyrics are very simple, just the names of the body parts:

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Knees and Toes

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

Knees and Toes

Eyes and Ears and Mouth and Nose,

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Knees and Toes !


Sing this song for a fun developmental activity for baby.  Touch their hair with both palms of your hands as you sing “Head,” touch both of their shoulders as you sing “Shoulders,” squeeze both of their knees as you sing ‘Knees,” and tickle their toes as you sing “Toes.”  Take the tips of your fingers and touch near their eyebrows as you sing “Eyes,” touch their ears on the word “Ears,” take one finger and touch the lips on “Mouth,” and then touch the nose on “Nose.”  When you touch a part of their body at the same time that you sing the name of it, they pay attention to the place and learn the word associated with the body part.


Once baby is familiar with the song, introduce some variations to continue to engage baby’s curiosity and provide learning opportunities.  One way to change the song a bit is to vary the tempo, or speed.  At first, sing the song fairly slowly so they can follow what you are doing.  Eventually play with the tempo because they will enjoy the song at a fast tempo as well.  Next, after more practice, take a doll and place it in front of baby and place baby’s hands on the doll’s “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” as you sing.  This reinforces the learning of the body parts.  Each small change you make in how you play with the song will engage baby’s attention more deeply and facilitate the learning.  Songs also help cheer up baby when she is not feeling well.  Recently one of our stellar caterpillars was not feeling well due to a virus.  Her mother told me that the only thing that seemed to help during that week was “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”


A baby looks at her reflection in a glass door


A favorite game for babies of all ages is playtime with a mirror.  The baby in the above photo sees her image in the glass door and decides to kiss the reflection.  Babies see another very little person when they look into the mirror, and we know babies love to see other babies.  Sometimes they look behind the mirror to try and find the person they see in the reflection since they do not understand that they are seeing their own reflection.  Mirrors are a novel toy for baby which holds an element of mystery and surprise.  “Where is this person and what will happen next?”


This sense of independence begins to evolve after the 7th month and is an important cognitive milestone and is often referred to as “self-recognition.”  It takes time for baby to learn that the mysterious person they see in the mirror is “me.”  Studies were conducted where researchers put rouge on the noses of babies to see if they would learn that the rouge on the nose of the baby in the mirror was also rouge on their nose. The researchers discovered that much of the self-recognition develops between the age of 1 and 2 years.


First, remember to practice baby safety.  Purchase a mirror that is unbreakable or hold baby in front of a secure wall-mounted mirror such as one in a bathroom above the sink.  For young babies you can find small mirror to put near her on the floor so that during tummy-time baby will lift he head and see the sparkle of her moving reflection.  Try sitting on the floor with baby on your lap or holding her in your arms in front of a large mirror so she can see her reflection and watch it move as she moves.  Much of the fun of mirror play occurs through movement, watching the person move as baby moves.  Or, watching mommy move in the mirror.  For older babies, use the mirror as a tool for teaching baby a few parts of the body such as “eyes,” “nose,” “ears,” “hair,” and “mouth.”  This developmental play is a game that can be played almost anywhere since a mirror can be found in most homes, airport bathrooms, and stores.



a toddler pulls the zipper on a purse

Toddler learns to pull a zipper

pincer grasp

For babies who have learned to use their pincer grasp, a fun game for them is to learn to pull a zipper.  The development of the pincer grasp is strengthened when baby needs to hold an item, such as a zipper pull, between her thumb and first finger as she moves it.  A zipper on a purse, a wallet, a cosmetic bag, or your jacket are fun for her to learn to manipulate.     Try holding the ends of the zipper for her at first, so she can pull the zipper and learn how it works.  Soon, on a smaller item such as a cosmetic bag or wallet, she can hold the item steady with one hand while unzipping the zipper with her other hand.  She may even need you to show her how to hold the zipper pull with her thumb and first index finger (pincer grasp). Look closely at her hand to observe how she is developing her fine motor skills.

Always closely supervise baby as she opens a purse or wallet that may contain items that are not baby-proof, such as coins, paperclips, pens, and other small or sharp objects.  You may want to find a purse and place interesting and baby-proofed items inside for her to discover when she successfully unzips the purse.  She will enjoy the process of discovering the same items are in the bag each time she opens it.  Another dimension of fun for speech development is added if you say “ZIP-ZIP-ZIP” or “ZIP-PER” each time you move the zipper pull to open or close the zipper.  They are intrigued by the sound of the word and will watch you say it each time.