Tummy to Play: Always remember: back to sleep, tummy to play. Baby may not like being on their tummy at first because back and neck muscles are not very strong yet. Make Tummy Time part of baby’s daily routine starting with a few minutes at a time, a few times a day. Helps baby develop core strength.
Face-to-Face: Lie down propped up by a pillow and place baby tummy down on your chest so you’re face-to-face. Hold firmly so baby does not roll off. Helps baby strengthen core muscles and achieve developmental milestones.
Get to Know Baby: Take time to get to know baby in every way. Smile at them. Touch hands, feet and forehead. See how they wiggle and react to touch and voices. Helps you connect with your baby.
Evolving Mobile: Every couple of weeks add or change the toys hanging from an overhead mobile or play mat to grab baby's attention. Wiggling the toys can also help baby look at the new toys. When baby is able to sit up, take down the mobile due to safety risks. Helps baby develop vision by providing interesting objects and colors to look at.
Sleeping Direction: Change the direction baby lies while sleeping. Place their head on the right side of the crib, then switch to the left side the next night. Repeat. Don't forget to always place baby on back to sleep. Helps baby build strength by turning different directions to see you.
Mobile Songs: If your baby’s mobile plays music, sing along with the songs. Hold their hand or rock them while you sing. Play similar music for him at other times of the day, all around the house. Helps baby improve listening skills.
Tummy Min: After diapering, lay baby on their tummy for a few minutes so Tummy Time becomes a part of their daily routine. Helps baby learn to lift up their head.
Beep Baby: Tap baby in different places and say the name of each body part. Then say “beep” or make another sound after each new body part you touch. They may start watching your hands and anticipating each touch. Helps baby develop their sense of touch and body awareness.
Raise to Sit: Place baby on their back facing you. Put your hands behind their shoulders and head for support and slowly raise them to a sitting position. Keep repeating this movement. Once baby can support their head, you can practice while holding their hands. Helps baby build strength.
Mirror on the Wall: Put up a child-safe activity mirror on baby’s crib where they can see it. Say a rhyme: “Mirror mirror on the wall, Who’s the coolest baby of all?” Tap the mirror so they will glance at it and eventually they will learn that it's them in the mirror! Helps baby develop vision.
Gentle Strokes: Before feeding, gently stroke baby’s lips with nipple or bottle to encourage mouth to open for feeding. Be sure to present the nipple/bottle in the middle of mouth. Helps baby latch on for feeding.
Head Lifts: Baby should be starting to lift head a little bit when doing Tummy Time. Get baby to move by dangling a toy to look up at. Helps baby improve neck and head control.
Keep a Diary: Track things like baby’s motor milestones, how often they eat, and how many ounces are eaten per day. This helps you track baby’s growth and lets doctors check baby’s day-to-day activities and patterns. If you are concerned about baby’s development, be sure to share the diary with your healthcare provider.
Rattle Up & Down: Move and groove with a rattle – up and down. While they won't be able to shake it on their own yet, their reflexes will allow them to grasp the handle and enjoy the sounds as you help shake it. Helps baby continue to develop hearing.
Massage Feeding: Give baby a little massage on their arms, legs, and back before showing them the nipple or bottle. Helps increase baby’s alertness to help with feeding.
Get on Down: When baby is on tummy, get down on their level. Encourage eye contact. Place a mirror in front of baby, so they see themselves in a new way. Helps baby develop motor skills, prevents flat spots on head.
Smiling Faces: Babies love faces. Go through pictures of family and friends or a magazine. Point out the smiling faces for baby. You can also draw a basic smiley face on a paper plate and hang it in baby's room. Helps baby develop ability to focus.
Diaper Time Chat: When changing baby's diaper, talk about what you are doing. "We have a clean diaper for you." "Mommy is going to lift up your legs now." Helps set the foundation for baby's language skills.
Soft Touch: While baby is alert, awake, and calm place a soft, cushy toy with a face within their arm length. The face will interest them, and the way it feels will develop their sense of touch. Move the toy up and down, left and right in front of them. Helps baby track objects and develop visual focus.
Mirrors All Around: Take baby around the house. Share your reflection in each mirror. Point to your eyes, ask if they see them, then ask if they see their eyes, and point them out, “Here are your eyes!” Helps encourage baby to identify themselves and helps with emotional development.
Lap Baby: Soothe baby on your lap. Place baby across your knees while you are in the sitting position and rub their back while they do a little Tummy Time. Helps you steady baby and keep them calm during Tummy Time.
Sing Song: Play on floor with baby while they stay on their tummy. Place toys in front of them and sing songs. Baby loves your face and voice! Helps baby by making Tummy Time fun.
Songs in Motion: Sing a song like “Wheels on the Bus” or “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Use hand motions to get a reaction out of baby. Helps baby develop language skills.
Tap, Tap, Tap: With baby on their back, sing a song. While singing, tap the bottom of their feet in time with the song. Baby will love hearing your voice and the tapping gives them a new sound experience. Helps baby develop listening skills.
Hand Claps: Gently clap baby’s hands together to some music. Bring arms out in front and clap over their head, then to the right and left to the beat. Helps baby develop body awareness.
Cycling: While baby is lying on their back, pretend baby is riding a bike by gently grasping their ankles, keeping legs apart and moving them in slow circles. Tell baby what you’re doing using simple language: “go” and “stop.” Helps baby develop motor and hearing skills.
Hand Puppet Play: Place a puppet on your hand. Move puppet up and down, while saying baby’s name. See if they can follow the movement. Then move the puppet in a circle. As soon as they are able to follow the movement, try different movements. Helps baby develop vision skills.
Gentle Dance: Turn on some of your favorite music. Hold baby close while you sway to the rhythm and sing along. Helps baby be calmly introduced to new sounds and words.
Reach For It: Show baby a toy and move it towards their hand. Encourage baby to touch it. Be sure to switch sides so both hands get a chance to feel. You can even use common household items like measuring spoons. Helps baby learn to move their fists from closed to open.
Cooing & Gurgling: Talk to baby often. They should be cooing (soft throaty sounds including vowels) and gurgling (low, throaty, wet sounds) back to you by about two months. Helps baby develop first steps to speaking.
Switch Swat: Dangle simple objects (rattle or plastic measuring spoons) from a string so baby can swipe at it. Items that light up or make sounds work well. Change objects every few minutes to keep baby engaged. Make sure objects are not a choking hazard. Helps baby develop hand-eye coordination.
Toy Gaze: Play with baby’s favorite toy in front of them while lying on their tummy to get them interested in looking up. Helps baby learn to lift up head.
Parent Talkathon: Talking to baby is important! Use a slow, higher than normal pitch, almost a melodic voice to help get and keep baby’s attention. Babies prefer the sound of Moms’ and Dads’ voices. Your baby might even copy your tongue and mouth movements. Helps baby develop listening skills and mouth muscles.
Cheesy Smile: Smiling is one of the biggest expressions babies make! Give baby a big cheesy smile and make some funny noises. Watch them smile back at you. Helps baby bond with you and teaches them how to interact with others.
A Whole New World: Carry baby in different positions around the house. Carry baby tummy down or prop them up on your shoulder so they can see what is going on behind you. Helps baby develop head control and experience new movements.
Face Feelings: Grab a stuffed animal and talk to it. Touch its face. Name each part (nose, ears) you touch. Let baby feel the stuffed animal’s face and yours. Name what they touch. Then help them touch their own ears, mouth, etc., while you name each part. Helps baby develop sense of touch.
Play Peek-a-Boo: Lay baby on a blanket on their tummy on the floor. You can lay on your tummy facing your baby and cover your face with your hands or a scarf. Then uncover your face and say “peek-a-boo.” Helps baby develop play and memory skills.
Tongue Teezer: Stick out your tongue and encourage baby to try. Try this during diaper changes or playtime. Helps baby develop tongue control
Who Am I?: Gently bring baby’s hands to their face and help them stoke their cheeks. Point out different parts of their body as well. Helps baby learn about their body.
Side Chats: Lie baby down and talk to them from the left and right sides. Helps baby turn head in different directions.
Tummy Carry & Chat: Hold baby close to you in a tummy-down carry. Slide one hand under the tummy and between their legs when carrying baby tummy-down. Chat while you go: “Up!” (lift them slightly); “Down!” (bring them back down); “And All Around!” (Move them left to right.) Helps baby build strength and communication skills.
Express Yourself: Baby carefully watches your expressions and will be using more of their own by this age. Use a variety of facial expressions. Helps baby develop early communications skills.
Busy Fingers: Baby should be spending time looking at and playing with their fingers and hands. Putting hands or toys in their mouth is typical at this age. Be sure toys are age appropriate and big enough to not cause choking. Helps baby learn hand-eye coordination while exploring their surroundings.
Sense of Touch: Baby’s sense of touch is fully developed at this stage. Try gently touching baby on feet and tummy. They should have reaction such as giggling or smiling. Helps baby develop sensory skills.
Blow Raspberries: Before dressing baby, press your lips on their tummy and blow air on their skin to make a noise. The sound and funny feeling will make them smile and giggle. This encourages baby to make their own noises and lip movements, which is good practice for babbling and copying sounds. Helps baby build communication skills.
Put on a Show!: Do something silly in front of baby! Dance the YMCA or act out the movements and sounds of your favorite animal. Baby should be laughing out loud. Helps baby learn to focus their attention and follow moving objects.
Supported Stand: Hold on to baby’s trunk in a standing position on your lap. Lift them slightly up and down to help them try to put weight on their feet. Helps baby learn what it feels like to stand.
Copy-Cat Chit-Chat: Encourage baby to make noise by responding as if in conversation. Repeat sounds they make and add new words. Baby will learn the give and take of communication and may begin to babble sounds from words they've heard you say. Helps baby develop communication skills.
Teething Time: Give baby teething rings that have different textures, e.g. bumpy or smooth. Gives baby a new sensory experience.
Roll Baby Roll: Lie down next to baby and put them on their side, supported by a rolled-up blanket. Talk so they reach for you until they roll over. Clap when they do! Roll baby back gently so they keep rolling. Helps baby strengthen core muscles to prepare for future milestones.
Rattle Shakes: Keep playing with rattles and encourage baby to reach for them. Try placing the rattle above baby’s chest, between knees, and out to the sides. Don’t forget to let baby shake it! Helps baby develop motor skills by encouraging them to reach for toys and hold them.
Toy Challenge #1: Hold baby on your lap. Try to get them to reach for a toy. Help them switch the toy from one hand to the other. Helps baby work on hand-eye coordination.
Texture Time: Let baby touch fabric with different textures such as wool and velvet. Use a different word to describe each one to him: “soft”, “rough”, “smooth”. Baby won't understand the meaning, but it's still good to expose baby to new words. Helps baby learn about the world around them through their sense of touch.
Elevator Fun: Pretend baby is riding in an elevator. Lie on your back and hold baby steady with your hands. Slowly push them up in the air. Say “Ding!” once you get to the top. Then lower baby back own and “Ding!” again when they reach the ground. Helps baby build strength with Tummy Time.
Yakety Yak: Encourage two-way communication. When baby coos or babbles be sure to respond and take turns “talking.” Helps baby learn that language goes back and forth.
Toy Challenge #2: Show baby a favorite stuffed animal. Help them to touch it. Ask what it could be. Then tell them what it is. “It’s a kitty!” Helps baby use sense of touch and follow objects with eyes.
Action Songs: Count and wiggle baby’s fingers and toes as you sing "This Little Piggy" or clap baby's hands and feet together while you repeat "Pat-A-Cake." Repeating rhymes teaches early language skills. Helps baby build awareness of their body and practice communication skills.
A Song to Move the Job Along: Narrate what you’re doing as baby watches you. Say, "open and close" using doors, cupboards, toys with lids, and dishwashers. Make up a song about it as you go: “Open and close it, clap, clap, clap” (clap your hands). Helps baby learn there are words used to describe actions and objects.
Act Out: Make baby’s toys come to life! Act out simple stories with baby’s toys and stuffed animals. Helps expose baby to new sounds.
On and Off: Show baby how to turn things on and off including, lights, water faucets, etc. Repeat “On!” or “Off!” each time. Try this with a flashlight too. Baby will enjoy watching the light move around the room. Helps baby learn new words and sets the foundation for understanding cause and effect.
Rock and Roll Over: Baby may be rocking back and forth on tummy or rolling on the floor as he gains better control over his movement. Encourage baby to continue rolling by holding a toy out for them to reach during Tummy Time. Helps baby build muscles to roll from tummy to back.
Tummy Time Peek-a-Boo: Play peek-a-boo while baby is on her tummy. Cover your face with your hands. Surprise baby when you appear again. When you reappear, say her name and give her a wide smile. Helps baby become playful while improving core strength during Tummy Time.
Lifting Up and Down: Try this form of exercise with baby. Lift baby up high above your head and bring them back down low. Helps baby develop their sense of balance and body position.
Play Ball!: Find a ball designed for babies with different textures. Hand baby the ball and see what they do with it. Show different things they can do: roll the ball, drop it in a box. Helps baby develop motor skills and explore textures.
Light Moves: Place baby on your lap sitting upright and lightly move your knees up and down and then side to side. Make sure to hold on to baby! Helps baby experience new types of movement.
Body Massage: After a bath or during changing, gently massage baby from top of head to bottom of feet. Massages are good for all babies. Helps baby bond with you, use their sense of touch, and use their vision to focus on you.
Noise Makers: Give baby toys that make noise. Baby is starting to learn cause and effect. They may start to shake, drop, or bang toys together. You can give baby household items like pots, pans, spoons, etc. Helps baby learn to play with toys in different ways to see how they move and sound.
Ten Toe Surprise: Baby has probably found his feet and spends long stretches of time reaching and playing with them. Try touching their toes, saying a number for each one, or singing "This Little Piggy". Helps baby learn to focus attention while using his eyes to follow your movements.
Yummy in My Tummy: As your baby begins to eat solid foods, talk to baby about their pureed food while you feed them, “Yummy bite of squash!” Helps baby develop language skills.
Smooth Tummy Ride: Place baby tummy down on a thick towel and grasp the corners. Slowly circle around the room, basing your movement on baby’s level of comfort. Do this activity on a soft surface, like carpet, free of toys and household items. (Make sure they can hold their head up.) Helps baby improve neck and head control and strengthens back, shoulder muscles and core.
Sightseeing with Baby: Place baby in a carrier or baby wrap while you vacuum the floor or tidy up the house. You get chores done and baby has fun moving around the house with you. Make sure baby is safely secured. Helps baby develop sense of balance and body position, and gives baby new opportunities to see their surroundings.
Roll Me!: If baby is not able to fully roll over on their own, help them by holding one leg and slowly guiding them through the motion of rolling onto their tummy. Switch directions so they can practice rolling to both sides! Helps baby learn to roll over.
Ring Around the Tosies: Gently place a small ring toy around baby’s foot and lift foot into baby's view. Encourage baby to reach for it. Helps baby work on hand-eye coordination and core strength.
A Solid Move: Introduce Stage 1, smooth purees after you have breast or bottle fed baby. To help transition, end the meal with some more milk or formula after baby has tried some solids. (Consult baby’s healthcare provider about starting cereals and pureed foods.) Helps baby develop feeding skills.
Swipe Away: Encourage baby to swipe at objects held in front of them. Have baby practice “raking” movements by letting them use their fingers to grasp and pull objects. Hold the item in different positions to encourage reaching from side to side. Helps baby develop motor skills.
Messy Eater: Baby may be a messy eater at first, that’s ok! Let baby touch and play with their food to feel all of the different textures. Helps baby learn about different food textures.
Little Chef: Baby is probably already in their highchair while you’re cooking, try making your time in the kitchen a learning experience. Let baby smell the foods you are cooking and talk through what you are doing. Helps expose baby to new sensory experiences.
Taking the Spotlight: Baby should recognize familiar caregivers, try to get their attention, and engage with them. During calm moments, walk back and forth slowly past baby then smile and talk to baby if they try to get your attention. Helps baby learn to communicate with you by making sounds and using gestures.
Sit On Up: Place baby in sitting position on the floor with their hands in front of their legs so they can push themselves up using their arms. Baby’s back may look rounded in this position. Don’t worry, baby’s back will become straighter as they get stronger. Helps baby learn to support themself in sitting.
Roll Away: When baby learns to roll over on their own, lay down or wave a toy a little bit away from baby to see if they'll roll over to get it. Helps baby develop core muscle strength.
Fun Faces: Make different faces at baby. Smile, frown, or stick your tongue out. Let baby touch your face and explore your nose, mouth, and other features. Helps baby learn to focus his eyes on objects.
Winding Up: Play with toys that move. All curious babies love a jack in the box or a wind-up toy that makes repetitive movements. Helps baby develop visual skills.
Break Out the Board Books: Baby loves the sound of your voice while you read and the colors and shapes in books. Mix it up by reading in different locations or during Tummy Time. "Reading" can also be describing pictures without following the written words. Helps baby develop vision and listening skills.
Nature Walks: Go for a walk outside and let baby hear the sounds around them. Helps expose baby to new sensations.
Sit Up Straight: Support baby’s back to help them sit up. Look at a book with baby in this position. Helps them strengthen muscles needed to sit up on his own. Make this more fun for baby by using funny noises while you read. Helps baby develop strength.
Pureed Food: Try introducing new pureed foods to baby. Only serve one new food at a time and wait four days in case of allergic reaction before introducing another food. Be sure everything is thoroughly cooked and blended before letting baby try it. Helps baby develop feeding and swallowing skills.
Chew On This: When baby cries from teething, offer a toy or blanket made for chewing. Helps baby soothe during teething.
Chatter Box: Talk to baby often to let them hear the sounds and rhythms of speech. Describe your actions throughout the day as you dress, feed, and bathe baby. Listen as baby responds to you. Helps develop baby's language skills.
Household Hub-Bub: Use household items like squeeze toys or newspapers to make different noises for baby. Repeat sounds at different volumes and in different orders to keep them interested. Then give them the items and help them make sounds. Helps baby develop motor and listening skills.
Floor Explorer: Create a safe place on the floor for baby to explore. Engage with baby. Try holding out toys for them to reach while talking and using facial expressions. Helps baby improve neck and head control, strengthen back, shoulder muscles and core.
Lean and Reach: While baby is sitting, place toys out of his reach so he has to shift his weight and move to get the toy. Helps baby develop motor skills.
Feeding Tip: Try following a regular feeding schedule to help baby eat consistent amounts of food. Helps to make sure baby is getting the appropriate amount of food.
Sign Language: Use hand movements along with associated words to teach baby to communicate with gestures. Even if baby can’t speak yet, they can learn how to sign they want more or are all done! Helps baby develop early communication skills.
Blow More Raspberries: Try blowing raspberries again. This time, baby may blow raspberries and bubbles back. Helps baby by setting a foundation for language, social skills and other skills such as eating and drinking from a cup.
Board Book Fun: Finding books with interactive elements like fold outs or noises are fun surprises! Let baby take their time turning the pages. Helps baby develop language skills and interactive elements can excite baby's senses.
Moo and Baa: Use animal sounds when playing or reading to baby. Point out a picture of an animal then make the sound that animals make: “A cow goes moo,” “A sheep goes baa”. Helps baby learn to listen to different types of sounds.
Name Game: Point to the different parts of your face and name them for baby. Point to your nose and say "mommy's nose." Continue to do this with other facial features and see how baby reacts. Helps baby develop communication skills.
Baby in the Middle: Put baby’s favorite toys on the floor in a large circle. Place them in the middle – tummy down. Watch them reach and move around to play with toys. Helps baby develop a strong core and learn to coordinate multiple movements at once.
Shadow-Puppet Play: Use your hands to make shadow puppets for baby. Talk and sing as you move your fingers up and down while baby watches the talking shadow! Helps baby develop visual tracking skills.
Baby’s First Teacher: You are your baby’s first teacher. Show them how to use toys in different ways, such as banging blocks together or knocking over a stacked tower. Helps baby develop sensory and thinking skills.
Be Like Baby: Does baby bang blocks together or clap their hands? It’s your turn to copy them! When baby does an action, repeat it. Helps baby develop their joint attention and social connection with you.
It's All in the Knees: Position baby to straddle your leg so their feet are flat on the floor and knees are bent. Gently push down on baby’s knees so they start to feel weight through their legs and feet. Helps baby practice sitting balance and get feet ready for standing.
Wet Washcloth: Put a washcloth in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Before it's frozen and hard, give it to baby to bite on. Helps soothe baby's gums when teething.
Roll and Pull: Take a thick piece of yarn at least 2 feet long. Tie a small object or toy on one end. Show baby how they can pull yarn to bring the object towards them. Helps baby develop gross motor skills.
Creeping and Crawling: Baby may be rocking back and forth on tummy towards items of interest. Encourage movement by placing toys around baby where they must move to reach them. Helps baby learn to crawl.
Sitting Up to Play: Since baby can sit independently, sit on the floor and roll a ball to baby. Encourage them to roll it back using both hands so they can't use them for support. Helps baby strengthen back, shoulder muscles and core.
Little Explorer: Allow baby to grab and explore items within reach by giving him space to explore the environment. Stay close to supervise. Helps baby get new movement experiences.
Command Excitement: Give baby a simple command like "roll the ball". Show baby how excited you are if they do it by smiling and clapping. Helps baby learn to follow directions.
Swinging: If baby can sit up and hold up head with no problem, try pushing them gently on a swing at a park! Be sure baby is secure in the swing. Gently push them back and forth. Helps baby develop motor and sensory skills.
Splish Splash: Take a small tub baby can reach into and fill it with water. Put floating objects like plastic cups and spoons in tub. Let them splash and push the objects underwater, then watch them come up to float. *Always stay nearby so baby isn’t alone. Helps baby develop motor and sensory skills.
Independent Baby: Give baby a variety of objects to play with. Toys where baby has to put a ball or object into a container or activity table or tunnel allow baby to explore independently. Helps baby with motor and sensory skills.
Toy Grasp Time: When baby is holding a toy in each hand, offer a third toy. Watch as baby figures out how to grasp the new toy without letting go of the other two. Helps baby develop fine motor skills and problem-solving skills.
Baby Push-Ups: Encourage baby push-ups during Tummy Time by raising and lowering a rattle over baby’s head. Helps baby improve neck and head control and strengthen back, shoulder muscles and core.
Backyard Fun: Let baby explore the backyard safely. Take baby outside and let them touch the leaves and grass. Helps to expose baby to new sights, smells, and sounds.
Monkey See, Monkey Do: Use a mirror to practice silly faces and sounds with baby, e.g. kissing faces. Use a variety of facial expressions while you talk. Be silly! Baby will laugh and respond by trying to imitate you. Helps baby to practice making new language sounds.
Raining in the Bath: Punch holes in the lid of empty food container and fill with water to make a fun bath time toy. Baby can make it rain on themselves or a toy! Helps baby develop play skills while using their senses.
Bucket Time: Sit with baby on the floor facing a plastic bucket and have a toy handy. Show them how to drop it in the bucket and then let them take a turn. Helps baby build hand-eye coordination while learning how to copy your movements.
Finger Follies: Unwrapping a present can be more exciting than what’s inside. It’s satisfying for them to use their fingers to accomplish things. You can even use newspaper to wrap up a toy they've played with before. Helps baby develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Baby-Proofing: As baby gains better control of movement, be sure to baby-proof your home. Keep breakable objects out of baby’s reach and place safety locks on appliances. Helps keep baby safe while they explore and gain independence.
Toy Stacking: Baby is becoming more interested in how things work. Now is a great time to introduce stacking toys, such as blocks or stackable rings. You can stack and let them knock them down or guide their hands through the motions. Helps baby develop visual skills and thinking skills.
Horsing Around: Have baby sit on your knees and hold onto their hips. Move your legs up and down so it looks like baby is riding a horse. Switch the direction baby faces. Facing you, you can talk to baby. Or baby can face away to look at the environment. Helps expose baby to new types of movement.
Toy Tip: Give baby a new and different toy to play with rather than their favorite all the time. Helps expose baby to new things.
Phone Talk: Play with a pretend phone; talk into phone as you would a regular call, then offer it to baby to do the same. Helps baby develop listening and communication skills while learning about the objects around the house.
Tray Top Reach: Place new and safe foods within reach on baby's tray so she can begin to reach and explore. Helps expose baby to new foods and reaching skills.
Clap and Kiss: Baby is learning new gestures, like pointing and waving. Practice a new gesture, like blowing a kiss or clapping hands. Helps baby learn how to use movements to express themselves.
Figuring Out Food: When baby is seated in a highchair, give them food they normally eat and cut it into small pieces so they can try to pick it up with their fingers. They might not be able to pick up every piece yet but it's good practice. Helps baby develop fine motor skills.
Story Time: Describe your actions throughout the day as you dress, feed, and bathe baby. Helps baby develop listening and communication skills.
Music Time: Give a toy musical instrument to baby and show her how to use it. They will enjoy learning how to make different sounds. Try forming a family band and making music together! Helps baby develop sensory skills.
Human Obstacle: Lie down on the floor and get baby to crawl over you! When they crawl over, put your arms around them for a hug. You can add another person so baby has to do some extra crawling! Helps baby develop gross motor skills, build upper body strength, and bond.
Bucket O’Toys: Fill up a bucket with toys of different sizes, textures, and colors. Ensure that none are small enough to be swallowed if baby decides to explore them with their mouth. Allow baby to explore the toys with all of their senses. *Be sure none of the toys are small enough to be swallowed. Helps baby develop sensory skills.
Tray Time: Place pureed foods, like applesauce or yogurt, on baby’s tray and encourage play with a spoon. Helps baby develop feeding skills.
Textures and Temps: Allow baby to experiment with textures and temperatures. Textured toys, like teething rings or a wet washcloth that is close to frozen are fun for baby to experience. Helps with sensory development.
Move and Crawl: Help baby get into crawling position. Support their stomach and hips if needed. Once baby is crawling, hold a toy in front of them to get them to move. Helps baby develop motor skills.
Train to Crawl: Create a tunnel with your legs and encourage baby to crawl through. "Catch" them by squeezing your legs together as they pass through. After getting caught a few times, they’ll speed up to try to get through. Helps baby develop gross motor skills.
Pat-A-Cake: Play “Pat-A-Cake” with baby. First hold their hands to show the movements, then let them do it on their own. Helps baby learn to clap their hands.
Rise to Stand: Hold baby's hands while they're sitting on the floor and slowly raise them to standing. Let them stand this way for 8 to 10 seconds, then slowly lower them back to the ground. Helps baby strengthen leg muscles to prepare for walking.
Crawl Check: As baby is crawling watch to make sure both arms and both legs are pulling an equal amount of weight in movement. *If you feel concerned about how baby is crawling, talk to your baby's healthcare provider. Helps baby develop strength and coordination for other motor skills.
Family Meals: Have baby join you at the table during mealtime so they notice the different foods you are eating. Share new, safe, bite-sized foods from your plate. Helps expose baby to different smells and sights.
First Time Foods: Give baby new foods first, while they’re still hungry and more open to the new experience. Helps baby to experience new foods and tastes.
Sitting on Exercise Ball: Place baby in a seated position on an exercise ball and hold them firmly at the hips. Bounce them up and down, and roll them slightly forward and backward. Helps baby exercise core muscles while sitting and develop their sense of balance.
Wave Hello: Baby may have some stranger anxiety. It is normal for baby to get nervous or shy around new people. Encourage them to wave hello when meeting new people. Helps baby stay calm.
Wave Bye-Bye: Baby will start using gestures like shaking their head “no,” or reaching out to show they want “more.” Try teaching them a new movement, like waving bye-bye when guests leave your home. Helps baby understand that gestures have meaning.
The Daily Read: Read daily from books filled with pictures. Point out and describe the pictures. Babies love to read familiar books over and over again! Helps baby develop language skills.
Trying and Tasting: Baby is developing taste and smell. Offer baby different types of foods. If baby doesn’t enjoy a food, try it again on a different day. It often takes multiple tries before learning to like a new food. Helps baby develop their senses of taste and smell and learn which foods they like.
Chore Time: Don't stop interacting with baby just for chores! When doing chores around the house, point to objects and tell baby what you’re doing. Direct baby's attention to objects by helping them point their finger. Helps baby learn to focus their attention.
Ball Chase: Encourage baby to crawl around inside house. Roll a soft ball across the room. Tell baby they should go for the “ball” and use the words, “Ready, set, go.” Helps baby use crawling to build core strength and develop listening skills.
Shapes, Sizes, and More: Name textures, shapes, and sizes to help baby attach words to objects and experiences. Say things like "look at this big red ball" or "this stuffed animal is really soft." Helps baby develop language skills.
Stand and Reach: Let baby stand next to or behind a soft chair or piece of small furniture they can hold for support and encourage them to reach to one side for a toy. Then put the toy on the other side and they can reach with the other arm. Helps baby learn to shift their weight to prepare for walking.
Inside Surprise: Put a toy or book inside an empty cardboard box. Wrap it with colorful paper or newspaper comics. Clap your hands when baby yanks it open, then announce what's inside. Helps with language skills, fine motor development, and executive functioning skills.
Tray Pick Up: Offer baby food on their highchair tray like cereal or soft, cooked vegetables to pick up. Show baby how to pick up finger foods and put them in their mouth. Helps develop fine motor skills.
Read on Tummies: Read a book while you and baby lie on your tummies. They love the sound of your voice and the colors in a storybook. To hold baby’s attention, use funny voices while you read. Helps baby have fun during Tummy Time.
Body Reflections: Stand with baby in front of large mirror. Ask baby to point to different body parts when you name them. Helps baby learn to understand receptive language (how to take in messages from others.)
Play Hokey Pokey: Sit baby upright in your lap and sing the song while taking turns holding each of their arms and legs and gently moving them. Baby might laugh as you "shake it all about." Helps baby learn to interact with others and develop listening skills.
Old MacDonald: Sing songs with repetitive language like “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” Helps baby develop language skills.
Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes: Sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” while acting out the motions with baby. Baby may not be able to fully participate, but it’s a good practice standing alone! Helps baby learn parts of the body.
Body Points: Ask baby where their feet are. After they point to them say, “Hello feet!” Keep up activity involving different body parts. Helps baby learn names of body parts.
Two Hand Throw: Give baby small, lightweight toys in left and right hands so they can practice throwing with both arms. Helps baby with gross motor skills.
Enjoy the Outdoors: Teach baby about the outdoors. Spread a soft blanket outside for you and baby to lie on. Ask if they see the trees or animals. Get them to hold and feel things found outside. Make sure baby does not place items in their mouth. Helps baby develop their sense of touch and smell while learning about the world around them.
Buttons, Levers, and More: Give baby toys with buttons to push or levers to pull, so they are excited to explore with their fingers and see how the different parts work. Helps baby practice using fine motor skills.
Push Toys: Introduce push toys that allow baby to practice walking with some support. You can also use a large cardboard box or laundry basket with heavier items in it for stability. Helps baby develop gross motor skills.
Towel Time: Use a dish towel to play peek-a-boo. Ask “Where’s mama?” and when mom appears, say “mama” to encourage baby to imitate. After a couple of times they will be able to pull the towel off by themself. Helps teach object permanence, which helps baby to remember where objects are even if they can’t see them.
Hide and Find: Hide objects under a blanket during playtime. You can also try hiding yourself and pop out from behind a piece of furniture to surprise baby. Helps teach object permanence, which helps baby to remember where objects are even if they can’t see them.
First Interview: Ask baby questions and encourage response with words, baby sounds, cooing, or babbling. Record the conversation and play it back for baby to hear. Helps baby develop communication skills.
Round of Applause: Clap with excitement after baby does something good. Encourage them to clap with you. Helps baby learn how to use movements to express themselves.
Furniture Follow: Help baby pull themself to stand while holding on to a piece of furniture. Once they are steady slowly move around the room. Have baby follow you using furniture to hold onto and cruise along. Helps baby develop gross motor skills.
Beach-Ball Tummy Time: Blow up a beach ball so it’s almost full, with a soft spot. Hold baby carefully on top of beach ball, tummy down. Roll them back and forth, side to side. Helps baby develop core strength and balance.
Obstacle Crawls: Try to encourage baby to crawl over, under, and through various objects at home. Take empty boxes, remove tops and bottoms, and tape them to make a long tunnel. Be sure to be at baby’s side so he doesn’t get hurt. Helps baby better understand space around them.
Water Bottle Fun: Put some beads, glitter, or marbles in a sealed water bottle. Give it to baby and let them shake it around. Helps baby develop their visual skills.
Kickin’ Back: Attach a foam or soft ball to a piece of string and dangle it in front of baby within their reach. Have them try kicking ball while on their back, then hitting it while on their tummy. Helps baby learn how to move their arms and legs in new ways and build strength.
Roll to Me: Roll a large bouncy ball back and forth between you and your toddler. Helps baby with gross motor skills.
Toy Chest: Show baby where toys are put away so they can crawl to find different toys. You can also have baby help clean up toys by saying simple requests, e.g. “give me” or “put in.” Helps baby learn to follow commands and develop gross motor skills.
Tidy Up: Ask baby to pick up scattered toys and bring them over to you. Baby will like figuring out how to bend and pick up the toys. Helps baby build strong leg muscles and begin learning how to complete simple tasks with multiple steps.
Tower Time: Use stackable blocks while playing with baby. See how high the tower will go! They might laugh when it all comes crashing down. Helps baby practice developing motor skills.
Big Toy Time: Babies at this age love playing with large objects. Place some pillows on the floor and help baby crawl over them. Make sure to keep baby safe and watch them closely. Helps baby practice crawling to learn how to get from one place to another.
Squeaky Toy Fun: Help baby squeeze a squeaky toy to hear the sound. Next, cover it with a blanket and squeak it again. See how they react to hearing the sound this time and help them pull off the blanket. Helps baby exercise their memory and ability to locate sounds.
Bubble Time: Blow bubbles for baby. Watch them soar through the sky and let baby pop them when they land. Helps baby learn cause and effect by watching bubbles pop when they land on other objects and people.
13-18 Month Games
Word Connections: Encourage language development by naming the items baby points to and asking questions. For example, if baby points to a toy, ask, "Would you like that toy?" Helps baby learn that gestures have meaning.
Spoon Savvy: Work with baby to help them eat with a spoon independently. It’s ok if baby gets food on their face and hands. Place plastic, baby sized utensils on tray so baby can practice scooping food. Helps baby try new tastes and textures while learning how to use a spoon.
Balloon Time: Blow up a balloon. Let baby chase it around the room. Baby may be able to sit and catch the balloon if tossed directly to them. Always stay with baby in case the balloon pops. Helps baby practice using balance while coordinating movements needed to catch and throw.
Toy Offering: Offer toys for baby to hold while standing so they have to practice balancing without using their hands. Helps baby with balance and coordination.
Sponge Fun: Add sponges to baby's bath time. Sponges come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Let baby squeeze and soak the sponges. Helps baby strengthen their hands.
Big Kid Cup: Work with baby on drinking water from an open cup. Give baby many opportunities to try drinking from non-breakable cups. Be patient and give baby a lot of time to practice learning new skills. Helps baby meet feeding milestones.
Mom’s Purse: Fill a purse with items similar to those you carry. Include a toy cell phone, mirror, fake keys, and a wallet with photos of family and friends. Watch as baby takes items out of the purse and plays with them just like you! Helps baby develop fine motor skills and pretend play.
Simple Directions: Baby is learning at a fast pace. Instead of using babble or baby words, speak simply to baby. They should understand simple directions like “Roll the ball” or “No, don’t touch that.” Helps baby develop communication skills.
Shapes and Spaces: Use a shape sorter to talk baby about how to push shapes "in" the holes and dump them "out" of the container. Baby learns best by interacting with you and hearing the words you speak. Helps baby develop communication skills.
Walk and Carry: As baby gets more confident walking, encourage them to carry objects from one place to another. Helps baby practice using motor and coordination skills they will need for everyday activities.
Soccer Star: Encourage baby to kick a ball on the ground. Gradually build up to rolling ball to baby so they can kick it while in motion. Helps baby develop balance as well as gross motor skills.
Shoe Shack: If baby is walking, it may be time to purchase shoes. Standing and walking barefoot around house is important, but shoes may be necessary when walking outside or places that could hurt baby’s bare feet. Helps baby stay safe while exploring their world.
Push-Pull Toys: Try playing with push-pull toys at this age. Toy cars and trucks that roll are good toys for baby to push along floor. Make engine and horn noises: Vroom, Vroom! Encourage baby to do the same. Helps baby improve balance and coordination for walking.
Bucket Baby: This is a great age for encouraging baby to practice the meaning of “in” and “out.” Try asking them to put toys in a bucket and then take them out again. Helps baby develop communication skills and learn how to grasp small objects.
Dance Star: Put on some silly songs with lyrics that give instructions. Dance with baby while following the song directions! Helps baby develop listening skills while working on their dance moves.
Pudding/Yogurt Painting: Instead of using regular paint, swap it out with pudding or yogurt. Let your toddler draw with these foods on a paper plate. This way, there’s no concern with your little one putting their fingers in their mouth. Helps baby build fine motor skills and sense of touch.
Photo Book: Take photos of family members baby sees every day. Place photos in a small photo album and put them in your diaper bag. Go through the book with baby whenever you have free time. Point to every photo and say family members' names. Helps baby build language skills.
Curiosity Cupboard: Keep one cupboard door open for baby to explore while you are in the kitchen. Leave safe, small objects such as wooden spoons, cups, and saucers inside. Helps baby build curiosity and explore his environment to learn more about everyday objects.
Stack City: Keep giving baby stackable toys like blocks and cups. Baby will enjoy playing with the different sized toys and creating a tall tower. Helps baby develop spatial reasoning skills by learning how different sized toys can fit together.
Jam Session: Let baby make music by tapping a wooden spoon and cardboard box. They will love hearing sounds they make. Try tapping a simple rhythm and have baby copy you. Helps baby learn how to interact with others.
Scent-sation: Keep baby in the kitchen while you cook to let them experience new types of smells. Place a small bit of food, baby lotion, or a flower in a small container and let baby smell (without inhaling) it. Helps baby develop sense of smell.
Baby See, Baby Do: Sit across from baby, facing them. Say: “Do what I do!” Make a funny face, stick out your tongue. Clap when they copy you. Use other parts of your body as well - hands, arms - encouraging them to do what you do. Helps show baby that communication can go back and forth between two people.
Cup in the Bath: Use some household items to make bath time more fun. Bring a cup in the tub and show baby how to fill it up and pour it out. Helps baby develop motor skills and experience new textures.
Funny Hats: Dress baby up in funny hats. Show them their reflection in the mirror. Practice doing a little dance in the mirror while wearing the hat. Have baby copy you. Helps baby practice copying your movements.
Level 2 Peek-A-Boo: Play peek-a-boo. Let baby hide their face in a blanket and allow them to pull blanket off of you for the big reveal. Helps baby develop memory and communication.
Lone Rider: Let baby try toys that scoot or rock back and forth when they sit on them. Helps baby strengthen core and leg muscles and increase their independence.
Follow the Leader: Let baby run the show! Try this anywhere: backyard, park, or playground. As you follow, talk to baby about what is going on by asking questions: “Wow, you’re running fast! Where are we going?" Helps baby build language skills by listening to you talk.
Magic Chef: Set out pots, pans, bowls, spoons, and cups then suggest baby try mixing and serving an imaginary meal. If weather is okay, cook outside. Get a large bucket with water to pour and scoop. Add lemon juice or food coloring to keep it interesting. Helps baby learn to use imagination.
Stop and Shop: Have baby push a mini plastic shopping cart or cardboard box and squat to pick up toys on the ground while pretending to go grocery shopping. Helps baby use imagination and leg muscles required for squatting and walking.
Balance Tricks: Have baby hold on to your shoulders with their hands while they are standing. Encourage them to help put their pants on by picking up their foot and putting it in the leg hole. Helps baby improve balance.
Double Date: Play dates help entertain baby and give parents social time. At this age, “playing” together can be letting baby and friend have their own items to play with while sitting next to each other. Helps baby feel comfortable spending time with new children.
Sort and Separate: Gather 2-3 objects such as cups, socks, and spoons. Show baby how to group all of these similar items together. Then let baby have a turn. You can ask them to hand you certain objects by saying, "Can you give me the spoon?" Helps baby see similarities and differences.
Sock Fun: Have baby push plastic eggs or balls through a sock with a hole cut out at the toe. This is a simple activity that baby will find very entertaining. Helps baby use fingers to build fine motor skills.
Salon Ready: Turn the bath into a salon. Wash their hair and ‘style’ it. Try funky styles like a Mohawk! This can be great practice before baby's first haircut. If baby does not like this - don't force it. Helps baby develop sensory skills.
Hand Painted: Cover the kitchen table with newspaper. Pour a bright color paint onto a plate. Help baby dip their hand in paint and press it onto a piece of paper. Talk to them while making handprints to explain what you are doing and how it feels. *Make sure baby doesn't put the paint in their mouth. Helps expose baby to new sensory experiences.
Mommy-quake: Lie on your back and bring your knees to your chest, making sure your shins are parallel to the ground. Place baby tummy down on your shins and gently swing baby side to side or bounce up and down. Make sure to hold onto baby for safety. Helps baby develop their sense of balance.
Whip It: Wrap a table in plastic and spray shaving cream on top. Encourage baby to explore the shaving cream with hands, brushes, spatulas, or plastic spoons. Helps baby develop sensory skills.
Baby-Proofed Explorations: Baby is on the go at this stage. Be sure to keep them safe while moving around, by watching out for obstacles at their level and keeping dangerous things out of reach. Helps provide a safe place for baby to explore so they can develop and practice new skills.
Drum Time: Place a toy drum (or an upturned ice cream container) in front of you and baby. Use your hands or wooden spoons as drumsticks to show baby different sounds they can make. Helps baby develop fine motor skills, listening skills, and understanding of cause and effect and rhythm.
Feeding Friends: During play, encourage baby to feed stuffed animals with baby utensils. Helps baby develop fine motor skills.
Words and Rhythm: Listen to children’s music with simple rhythms and rhyming words. Baby will love the beat and tone of the music as well as learning new words and word combinations. Try this during car rides too. Helps baby build vocabulary.
Bumpy Board Books: Try reading board books to baby with different colors and texture. Let them touch the different textures. Tell them words that are associated with what they're feeling, e.g., “Rough, bumpy, soft,” etc. Helps baby learn what different textures feel like on their skin.
Flower Float: Put water in a wide, shallow container. Float flowers in the water. Point to each of the flowers and say what color it is. Then tell baby to point to a flower and ask them to pick it up. Helps baby develop language to learn about different colors and promotes sensory play.
Use Velcro: Peeling apart Velcro can be a fun experience for your child. Have your toddler use just two fingers to pull the Velcro apart to strengthen their fingers. Helps develop fine motor and sensory skills.
Sandbox: Bring your toddler to the beach or sandbox and let them play in the sand. Bring a small shovel and bucket for your toddler to play with. Helps baby develop sense of touch, motor coordination, and strength if baby uses shovels.
Clown Time: Baby will probably think it is funny if you act silly like a clown, pretending to fall down, walking silly, and jumping around. Try to get baby to imitate your silly motions. Helps baby learn play, imagination, and copy.
Read and Respond: Read to baby every chance you get. Baby is old enough now to point out things in a story that interest them. Name the objects in pictures as you read about them and ask baby to point them out. Helps baby develop language skills.
Pop the Bubbles: Blow bubbles to fall down in front of baby while standing. Encourage them to pop bubbles by clapping between hands or by poking with their finger. Helps baby develop hand-eye coordination and balance.
Plastic Eggs: Filling plastic eggs with different food items can be lots of fun for kids this age. Fill the eggs with bite-sized snacks toddlers can eat. They'll love opening the eggs and eating tasty snacks at the same time. Helps build baby's fine motor skills by using their fingers to open and close small objects.
Russian Nesting Dolls: Use the famous stacking dolls as a fun new activity. Have them open up, take out, and put back together each doll. Then they can line them up from biggest to smallest! Helps baby develop memory skills while using fine motor skills and using two hands together.
Ride-On Toys: Grab a toy that your toddler can sit on top of as you bring them around your house or on the sidewalk. Your toddler has to stay on by holding a handle and using their legs. Helps baby learn to use their eyes and hands together and builds gross motor skills.
Foot Paint: Did you know kids can paint with their feet too? Let them step in brightly colored paint and use their feet to create a masterpiece. This is best done outside, but if it’s a rainy day, you can put some plastic down on the floor for an easy cleanup. Helps with baby's sensory development.
Obstacle Courses: You can set up a mini obstacle course in your living room. Make pillow stacks to crawl over or lay a blanket over a table to make you toddler crawl under it. Helps baby develop gross motor skills and builds strength.
Early Art: Make sure baby is somewhere they can make a mess. Give them crayons or finger paint. Tape paper down and let your little artist design a masterpiece. Talk to baby while they work: “Wow! You used lots of yellow. It looks like sunshine!” Helps baby develop fine motor skills while being creative.
Identity Body Parts: Play with your toddler by naming different body parts and pointing to them. You can name the body part first and have your toddler point to it or you can point to a body part and have them name it. Helps your toddler develop his body awareness sense and communication skills.
Playground Fun: Bring your toddler to the playground. Let them explore, go on a swing, or slide down a slide. They also get to interact with other kids and play outside. Helps with sensory development, and builds your little one's motor skills and strength.
Hide and Seek: Hide while your toddler tries to find you. Play in the house or in your backyard to get your little one outside. Helps baby build thinking and problem solving skills.
Balloon Let Go: Balloons are fun when they’re inflated, but they’re even more fun when you let them fly around the room. Instead of tying the end of the balloon, let it go and see it whoosh around the room. Let your toddler go get it! Helps baby with motor skills, visual skills, and sensory processing.
Float or Sink?: Grab a bin and fill it with water. Have your toddler get different objects and drop them into the bin of water to see which float and which sink. Helps build child's vision skills, and thinking and problem solving.
Box Car: Find a large cardboard box that baby can play in. Place baby in the box and pretend they are in a racecar. Make engine noises and pretend to turn the "steering wheel." The more noises you make and actions you do the better. Helps baby develop their imagination.
19-24 Month Games
Treasure Chest: Give your toddler their own drawer or box of "treasures." These can be new toys from the dollar section or household objects they would find interesting. Let them pick a toy to play with. Helps baby use motor skills and different senses to touch, listen to, and pick up toys.
Ziploc Painting: For a super easy cleanup, put some paint in a Ziploc bag - make sure it’s sealed and taped closed, then give it to your toddler. As they squish and poke the bag, the paint will move around in different and interesting ways. Helps baby’s vision and motor skills.
Dancing: Have a dance party with your toddler. Put on some upbeat music and dance around the house or outside. Help baby's coordination, balance, and increases creativity.
Exploring ‘Guitar’: Put a few rubber bands of different sizes around a thin box to create a guitar. Let your toddler use their fingers to strum the rubber bands and make different sounds. It helps your toddler learn to use just one finger and strum a specific band. Helps with fine motor, listening, and visual skills.
Dining Table Tent: Create a new living space underneath a dining room table. Add some pillows and their favorite toys to make it like their own house. Helps baby build play skills.
Contact Paper: Tape some contact paper (sticky side out) to your wall or window. Give your toddler a few different objects like cotton balls that they can use to throw or place onto the contact paper and watch it stick. Helps baby's sensory development and fine motor skills.
Peeling Tape: Put masking tape or stickers down on a table and have your toddler try to peel it off. Try to get them to only use the index finger and thumb to pick and peel the tape off the table. Help out by peeling up a small edge to start it off! Helps your toddler build fine motor and visual skills, and sense of touch.
You’ve Got Mail: Make a little slit in a box to make it your toddler’s personal mailbox. Then put in junk mail that you get and let them tear it open. Helps baby build fine motor skills by using fingers to pinch and grab items.
Discovery Bottles: Get a small water bottle and fill it with different objects. Let your toddler shake it around and discover glitter, pebbles, and other objects as they turn it. Make sure the bottle is securely sealed and filled with age appropriate items. Helps baby develop visual skills and arm strength.
Food Prints: Food is not just for eating, you can paint with it too! Cut an apple in half and use it as a stamp. Your toddler can also use carrots to roll around in the paint. Helps baby develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Pom Pom Push: Cut holes into a lid on a box and have your toddler push pom poms or cotton balls through the holes. Different sized holes can create new challenges. Some they can drop, others they will have to push through. *Supervise baby during this activity. Helps to develop fine motor and visual skills, and sense of touch.
Rampin’ Up: Create a ramp. Let your toddler roll different objects down it to learn about how gravity works. Helps baby develop ability to use eyes to track objects and taking turns (if with peers).
Search Out: Get brightly colored objects, like bouncy balls, and place them around the living room. Don’t make them too hard to find though. Let your toddler walk around and try to find them. Your toddler can count them out as they find them. Helps baby develop visual and language skills.
Build Up, Knock Down: Your toddler may be used to toys that click into place as you build them up. This time, use regular wooden blocks to build a tall tower and let them knock it down. Helps baby build visual and fine motor skills, and is a good way for practicing using two hands together.
Sidewalk Paint/Chalk: Sidewalk chalk is a fun reason to get outside and get a little messy without a big cleanup. Drawing scribbles on the sidewalk or driveway is a chance for your toddler to get creative and have fun. Helps baby builds fine motor, visual, and sensory (touch) skills.
Melting Ice: Put water with drops of food coloring in an ice tray and freeze them. Let your toddler put the ice into a bin of room temperature water. The ice will melt and the color will spread out. Helps baby's fine motor and visual skills, and sense of touch.
Read with Sound Effects: Bring new life to stories by making sound effects. Someone’s stamping their feet in the story? Pound your feet on the floor. A wolf is howling? Give it your best howl. Helps baby develop language skills and keeps their attention.
Eye Dropper Art: Put paint into an eye dropper and let your toddler squeeze the top to make the paint come out and create a new kind of artwork. This may take practice so don't get discouraged if your little one can't do this right away. Helps baby develop fine motor, sensory motor, and visual skills.
Chasing Your Toddler: Chase your toddler around the room saying “I’m going to get you!” Let the anticipation of catching them build until you eventually catch them. Helps baby develop gross motor skills, balance, and coordination.
Tossing: Let your toddler throw balls into a laundry basket. Use different sized balls with varying levels of bounce to help them learn the proper amount of force to use while tossing. Helps baby develop visual-motor and body awareness skills.
Round Up the Balls: Get outside and put different sized balls on the ground. Set down a hula hoop and have your toddler gather the balls and put them inside the hoop. Helps baby use visual, gross motor, and communication skills, sense of touch, and improve ability to follow directions.
Play Chef: Play chef and have your toddler fill measuring cups with cheerios. Then let them serve you the snack. They won't understand the different measurements, but scooping and dumping will be fun. Helps baby develop executive function, fine motor, and play skills.
Bowling: Set up empty water bottles to make bowling pins. Show your toddler how to roll the ball to knock down the pins. Helps baby build hand-eye coordination and practice balance.
Puzzles: Get a simple shape puzzles made of foam or wood for your toddler to complete. They'll have fun putting together the puzzle and finding a picture of their favorite characters at the end. Helps baby develop visual and fine motor skills.
Playing with Play Dough and Clay: Giving your toddler play dough or clay to play with is a fun (and easy cleanup!) activity. Pushing the play dough or clay into different sized containers and then taking it out can also be fun. Helps baby's fine motor skills and sense of touch.
Bubble Wrap: Give your toddler bubble wrap and let them pop all the bubbles. Have them try popping them with only their index finger and thumb. Helps baby develop fine motor, auditory, and visual skills.
Imitate New Words: Say some new words and let your toddler imitate you, trying to repeat what you said. Make a game out of it. Every time they say a word clap, cheer, and repeat the word back. Helps with copying, expressive language, eye contact, and play.
DIY Book: Make a do-it-yourself book by gluing different textures onto some pages. Add feathers, buttons, or sandpaper, to name a few, so your toddler can feel the different between rough and smooth, and hard and soft. Helps baby develop sense of touch and play skills.
Playing with Shaving Cream: Let your toddler smear shaving cream on the window. Start with a small area and then let them spread it along the window, having them draw squiggles in the cream with their fingers. Helps baby explore their sense of touch.
Noodle Fun: Get pasta with large holes in it and let your toddler string thread through the pasta to make a noodle necklace. Your toddler can also paint the pasta to make it more colorful and fun. Helps baby develop fine motor skills.
Shape Sorting: Make circles, squares, and triangles and set two of each down on the floor. Have your toddler match up the shapes. You can also put down pictures of animals and have your child match a toy version of the animal to the picture. Helps baby builds cognitive and visual skills.
Tube Ball: Tape cardboard tubes (from a paper towel roll) to the wall so they connect at different angles. Give your toddler a ball and let them drop the ball down the tube, waiting for it to come out the bottom. Helps baby develop visual-motor and fine motor skills.
Button Drop: Cut holes into a lid on a box and have your toddler slide old buttons through the holes while you supervise them. Making different sized holes can create different challenges for your toddler. Helps baby develop fine motor skills.
Laundry Sort: When you are folding laundry, let your toddler help you. As you fold, ask your child to bring you different articles of clothing. Say "please bring me a sock?" Helps baby learn to follow directions.
Kitchen Helper: Let your child help you out in the kitchen. Give them spoons or spatulas to hold and let them help you mix and stir ingredients. They might make a little bit of a mess so you may have to guide their hands a bit. Helps baby develop fine motor skills.
Costume Change: Start a costume bin. Fill it with clothes from past decades, old Halloween costumes, and goofy finds from thrift stores. When your little one is looking for something fun to do, pull out the costume bin and let them step into character! Helps baby develop play skills and practice dressing and undressing.
Freeze Dance: Have a dance party with your little one. Tell them that once the music stops, they have to freeze in place! When it starts, they can dance again. Helps with following instructions and gross motor skills.
Seek the Unique: Tell your child the meaning of unique (something that’s not like anything else). Grab a group of items and ask your child to identify which one is "unique". For example, grab all green blocks and one red block. Or items made of metal and one made of paper. Helps with learning new words and sensory skills.
Make Your Own Puzzle: Print out a picture of an item your child would like. Cut it into large pieces (for a standard 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, aim for about 9 pieces). Ask your child to try and put the picture together! Helps with sensory and life skills.
Shadow Show: Turn the lights off and grab a flashlight (or two!). Show your child how they can cast a shadow using their hands or body in front of the flashlight. Challenge them to tell a story using shadows! Helps with fine motor skills, communication skills, and working memory.
Sand Search: Hide a toy in a bucket of sand or sandbox. Have your child search for it. For an extra challenge, have them search with their eyes closed-- they can only find it by feeling! Helps with sensory skills.
Egg Race: If using real eggs, do this outside! Put an egg (real or plastic) on a spoon, and have your child walk a specified distance. Try to have them go as fast as they can without breaking the egg! Helps with motor skills, balance, and hand-eye coordination.
Do This Dance: Turn on some music and get dancing! As you dance, give your toddler instructions related to their body parts, such as "shake your arm" or "touch your head". Helps with motor skills, body awareness, and following instructions.
Toy Hunt: Hide your little one's favorite toys around the house and have them search for them! You can give them clues of where their toys might be at. Helps with life skills like problem solving and working memory.
Toy Talk: Set up a little tea party or snack session for your child with their favorite stuffed animals. Ask them questions about their toys and see if they can start conversations with them. Helps with social-emotional skills, language skills, creativity, and imaginative play.
Body Trace: Using a large piece of craft paper and a writing utensil, have your child lay on the paper and trace an outline of their body. Helps with self-control and patience, identifying body parts.
Block Balance: Using a toy block set, have your child see how many blocks they can stack on top of each other before they fall over. Have them count each block as they place them, and if they need help, remind them to be delicate with the blocks as they place them. Helps with balance, body awareness, counting, and fine motor skills.
Catch and Release: Play a game of catch in the yard by tossing your child a ball and having them toss it back to you. Change up the game by giving them different size balls to toss or various instructions when throwing the ball (i.e. throw as slow as you can, throw as fast as you can, etc.). Helps with fine and gross motor skills, understanding and following directions, and body awareness.
Spray Bottle Tie Dye: Dye water with food coloring and put it in a spray bottle. Then take a white t-shirt (or whatever you want to dye), put it in the grass or on a tarp, and let your child spray the shirt to dye it! Helps with fine motor skills and sensory skills.
Chalk Walk: On a sidewalk or driveway, create squares of different colors using sidewalk chalk. Instruct your child to walk to different colors "go to the red square" or give them a series of squares to remember "go to the red square, then the blue square, then the yellow square". Helps with motor skills and balance.
Hop To It: Draw a path with sidewalk chalk and challenge you child to hop along the path! You can add numbers in the path and tell them to jump that many times (for example, if the square says 3, they have to jump 3 times when they land on it). Helps with motor skills, following directions, and counting.
Balloon Volley: Using a balloon filled with air (not helium), challenge your child to keep the balloon off the ground for as long as they can using their hands and feet. Helps with gross motor skills, body awareness, and balance.
Pillow Path: Challenge your child to walk across the house using a path only made of pillows. You can use as few as 2 pillows, and they will have to pick up the pillow behind them and put it in front of them with each step. Helps with problem solving, motor skills, and balance.
Like an Animal: Ask your child to walk and make sounds like an animal! For example, ask them to moo like a cow, slither like a snake, or gallop like a horse. Helps with language skills and working memory.
Warmer, Colder: Hide an item and have your child search for it. As they get closer, tell them they are warmer; as they get farther, tell them they are colder. Helps with communication skills and life skills like working memory and problem solving.