15 Play Ideas for Mum and Baby in the First 12 Months

Erin from //celebrateplay// joins us to discuss a wide range of wonderful early childhood play ideas. There is sure to be something for everyone on this extensive list. Scroll to the bottom to learn more about Erin and what she does.

So you have recently welcomed a beautiful bundle of joy into the family (congratulations) and have been enjoying the snuggles that only a newborn baby can bring. There really isn't anything quite like it right? And before you know, in what feels like the blink of an eye, your baby begins to discover the world around them in different ways than before. They discover ways to communicate with you, show their likes and dislikes, begin to move and show an interest in play and their surroundings.

...so now that your baby has made these discoveries, where to next? What type of play is suitable for your baby? What learning experiences can you create for them in your home?

Today I'm sharing fifteen of our favourite play ideas and resources with you to enjoy in your very own playspace with your baby. Remember when trying these activities it is imperative your baby is supervised at all times.

  1. MUSIC, SINGING & SNUGGLE DANCES - Babies love music and the voice of YOU, their mother, whether you are the world's best singer or not and it is one of the simplest ways to play with your newborn. Play your favourite tunes or nursery rhymes, sing along, snuggle with your baby and dance away to the music. Our favourite tunes are the Rockabye Lullaby series, The Alphabet Song, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, and Baby Mozart.
  2. STORYTELLING - Reading books with your child or telling stories is an exciting opportunity to bond with your baby. When telling stories, you may recite some of your favourites from your childhood or retell a popular children's story. You might use silly voices (babies love this) to represent different characters and create a sense of anticipation. You may even extend this idea and add in some finger and /or hand puppets when telling the story. Our babies have loved Dear Zoo, That's not my series, Farm Chase and listening to stories about my childhood. 
  3. TREASURE CHEST - Putting together a themed collection of items that have different textures, colours or shapes is a great way for babies to explore. eg. a basket of shiny objects or rough objects.
  4. MIRROR - Babies simply love looking at their reflections, poking their tongues out and playing peek-a-boo with a mirror. When choosing a mirror make sure it is suitable in design and make for your baby to use. 
  5. NESTING BOXES/CUPS - One of the most versatile baby gifts we received were nesting boxes. We have used them to build towers during tummy time, push and pull objects, carry objects in them and shake objects in them (later baby stage)...endless minutes of fun. Remember your baby will only play for minutes at a time until they are a bit older. 
  6. POSTING & DROPPING BOX - Remember the Tupperware Shape O-ball? The red and blue one with yellow shapes? This is a type of posting box and these days they come in a variety of designs - boats, boxes...basically any shape that allows objects to be dropped into them and retrieved to repeat again. This activity is a great one when your baby begins sitting up. 
  7. SENSORY BOTTLES - Filling plastic bottles with water, glitter, confetti, sequins, hair gel and water mix, oil and water mix, coloured water, grass, sand and dirt can make great sensory bottles for your baby. (We like to use the store bought empty travel size shampoo and conditioner bottles because they are an ideal size and weight). 
  8. SORTING & ARRANGING IN A MUFFIN TRAYS - Little ones love moving objects from one place to another - investigation in its simplest form. A great way to set this play idea up is with recycled materials such as long cylinder tubes, egg cartons and muffin trays...watch your baby move the tubes from one spot to another, knock them over, twist and turn them around anticipating a reaction from the movement and even giggle when they fall down. 
  9. BUBBLES - This is a simple and easy activity for you and your baby to play with. Making bubbles with a bubble wand, watching them, popping, them and chasing them can create to lots of fun. 
  10. ACTIVITY BOARDS - We love a DIY project, there are so many clever and talented people with some ahhmazing ideas...have you seen the array of DIY baby activity board ideas? I have attached a link to one of our all time favourites along with some instructions on how to make your very own. 
  11. MESSY SPAGHETTI - So we know messy play isn't every Mums cup of tea - it is messy and time consuming. For those that attempt messy spaghetti, find a time that best suits you and the family. This play experience is definitely one for outside or the highchair and in play/housework clothes. 
  12. TUMMY TIME PAINTING - A great way to introduce painting to babies is through paint in an envelope. Check out this idea at MamaPapaBubba
  13. EDIBLE PAINT - Another messy and sensory play idea to try is edible paint. We love this recipe idea using fruits and vegetables. Watch your baby enjoy squishing, squashing and moving the paint while trying to work out how the paint got onto their little fingers. 
  14. TENT & TUNNEL - Once your baby has been on the move for some time, they are going to discover how to crawl in and out of objects. Putting up a tent with a tunnel is a fun way to develop a range of skills including crawling in and out, sitting inside, playing peek-a-boo around it (cause and effect) and setting up play inside the tent. It is a fabulous way to interact with your little one. 
  15. BEAN BAGS - Bean bags are a great resource for babies because they are easy to manipulate, light weight and budget friendly. Bean bag toss-toss the bean bag to each other, bean bag balance-pop the bean bags on each other's head and crawl or walk, bean bag basketball-toss the bean bag into a hoop/basket. 

    ...so Bundle lovers, what are some of your favourite baby play ideas? Share them with us by leaving a comment or photo. Have any questions? Pop them below and I will be back to answer them.

    Erin is a Mum of two, wife, Early Childhood trained and Primary School teacher as well as the Founder and Blogger at //celebrate play//. She lives a busy, yet simple and enjoyable life in Sydney. Her greatest passions are family, organisation, gift-giving, helping others, celebrating events and lifelong learning. You can find her at the Celebrate Play Facebook group with a new website coming soon.

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