Indoor play ideas for babies
Everything is learning to a baby. In those early months there are so many wonderful firsts to witness, and parent-baby interaction is one of the most important parts of their development. We asked childcare expert Julia Perry for some simple but powerful activities to do at home.
How do I play with a new-born?
“You’re engaging their senses with everything you are doing – cuddling, staring, chatting, singing, rocking – this all counts as ‘play’ in the early days. Just being close to them is entertainment. Then, as their awake time starts getting longer, these are the blocks of time, usually after feeding and before sleeping, when they’ll start engaging with you more.”
Should I be teaching specific things to my baby?
“Playtime is just that – play. It should be fun for both of you! Try and get down on their level and see the world through their eyes. And always reward their efforts with claps and hugs.”
How long should playtime last?
“A baby’s attention span is very limited. Each activity may only hold their attention for 5 minutes, but you can make slight changes, like singing a song or introducing a new sensation, and keep them engaged for longer. Then, after a short pause, try introducing the activity again. After 20 minutes playtime, your baby may be ready for a nap.”
Julia’s favourite indoor activities for babies
Shake the bottle: empty a small water bottle and fill with sequins or glitter and shake! Swish from side to side and make a rainbow. Or, try a noisy version and fill with lentils or dried pasta.
Bang a drum: bring out an array of saucepans and using wooden and metal spoons, show your baby how different shapes make different sounds.
Spaghetti party: once your baby is sitting up, cook some spaghetti and let them feel the sensation of wet cooked spaghetti on their arms, legs and feet (use a little oil to stop it sticking). If you’re feeling brave, do the same with jelly too.
Mirror, mirror: using a child-friendly plastic mirror, sit with your baby and pull faces together. Your baby will think they are looking at another baby and another mummy – they focus on the whole face, not the eyes.
Baby disco: holding them close, show your baby how to move in time to the music. Change direction and speed along with the rhythm. It doesn’t have to be baby music!
Chatterboxes: copy the noises and the actions your baby makes. Imitating them tells them that you understand their language!
Foot art: cover a hard kitchen floor with newspaper or cardboard, squirt out child-friendly paint and let your baby enjoy the lovely sensation of squidgy paint between their bare toes. Then create footprint pictures to treasure!
Silk sensations: stuff a soft silk scarf into an old tissue box. Help your baby reach into the box and pull out the silky fabric, and then stuff it back in again. Then use the scarf to play peek-a-boo.