Toddlers aren’t the only ones who can play some fun games that bring out those adorable smiles and contagious giggles. There are plenty of fun activities and games to play with your newborn as well. When your little one is awake, the two of you can have some good times playing a few games that will entertain them and hopefully coax out a smile or a coo.
Not only are these games a fun way to break up the monotony of having a newborn who only seems to eat, sleep, and dirty their diapers, but they’re also a great bonding opportunity for the two of you.
Convinced that games are a great idea? Here are some options, most of which don't require a lot of extraneous items, like toys. You just need a little imagination and your precious little one to have some fun with these!
A childhood classic, you’re never too young for peek-a-boo. While a newborn may not be able to fully grasp the concept in the way that a toddler can, they'll still enjoy watching you disappear and then reappear as if by magic. Whether you use your free hand to make your face disappear or your nursing blanket, the effect is the same.
You're sure to elicit a smile or the beginnings of a giggle with this game. The funnier the voices that you make for the words "peek-a-boo," the better.
Just like the song, this game occurs in the bathtub. Once your little one is old enough for a bath (remember to only give sponge baths – carefully at that – until their umbilical cord stump falls off), have fun singing to them and splashing them a little at the same time. Just remember to keep the suds out of their eyes, lest you cause them a little bit of pain.
A few splashes here and there, not forceful enough to push the water out of the tub, and your newborn will surely have a good time. Don't forget to sing a few bars of "splish splash, I was taking a bath…" in order to make it a raucous good time.
Speaking of music, the game “dance party” either requires you to play some music on your cell phone or smart home device or, if you feel like it, make up silly beats and start singing or humming a song. Pick up your newborn, hold them securely, and start bopping around the room (while protecting their head and supporting their neck, of course).
If you feel like doing some gentle spins, make sure to wait a while after they've eaten before playing dance party, since you don't want to have to make your little one sick to their stomach. This game is plenty of fun for kids of all ages, even newborns, who can't dance on their own.
What’s in My Bag?
If you feel like pulling out your diaper bag and rummaging around in it, then it’s time to play "what's in my bag?" Not only does this help your little one learn eye tracking movements (more on that later), but it provides plenty of fun for the both of you as you dramatically pull out one item after another, like a magician pulling things out of a hat or box.
Use funny voices and hand flourishes, as well as plenty of interesting faces and “Voilas” to make this game entertaining. Who knew that the contents of a diaper bag could be so much fun?
Who hasn't blown raspberries on their child's belly or arm while changing their diaper or relaxing? This game is easy and doesn't require any special toys or equipment. You just need yourself and your newborn. The sensation will make your little one smile and coo, and you might even feel them start to squirm in anticipation of your next round of raspberries. It's all in good fun!
Where’d It Go?
Similar to peek-a-boo, “where’d it go?” involves taking an object, waving it in front of your child so that they can see it clearly, and then making it disappear. Playfully toss the item behind you, simply place it gently out of sight, or just move it from one side of your newborn to the other.
Some suggested objects for this game are stuffed animals, the baby’s socks (you’ll no doubt end up with plenty of them from your shower), or anything that won’t cause any damage when you toss it over your shoulder.
Let’s Read a Book!
Sure, your newborn can’t read yet, and they won’t for quite a few years to come. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t read to them. Bring out those board books, or even a fun child-aged tale, like Clifford the Big Red Dog, and read them to your little one. You’ll enjoy the bonding time, and doing this on a regular basis will instill a love of reading in them. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving books!
Like raspberries, your child is sure to love this game. They’ll probably squirm with delight when you tickle their elbows and knees, their tummy, or even the bottoms of their feet. Nothing is as much fun as the “tickle, tickle” game. Play it when you’ve just finished changing a diaper or right after feeding time. No matter what, you’ll surely elicit a grin and coo from your newborn.
Providing textures for your little one to feel is a great way to help their development. These textures can include everything from rough fabrics, like linen, to things that are very soft, such as blankets. There are entire books for kids that consist of textured panels designed for little hands to feel, but you aren’t limited to them. Simply use anything that you have available.
The entire point of this game is to provide plenty of textures for those little hands to feel. You might even discover that they prefer some to others, which makes it even more interesting when you look for additional items with that same texture.
Hear My Parents Sing
This is a game that your child will find completely embarrassing in about 14 years, so you might as well enjoy it before they can roll their eyes at you in exasperation. There’s nothing wrong with singing a song – badly – at the top of your lungs, in harmony with your significant other. Of course, feel free to sing quietly as well, depending on your mood, the song, and whether or not your child is about to fall asleep (no need to wake them up with your out-of-tune tunes).
Babies, actually kids of all ages, love funny faces. Whether you prefer to make a goofy monster face or one that involves rolling your eyes and sticking out your tongue, this game will go over big time. Your child will grin, coo, or maybe even laugh a little, depending on just how funny your face happens to be.
Babies of all ages love to hear their parents talk. This game consists of just that. Talk to your child, telling them everything on your mind. Tell them what you’re doing, inform them of their family history (they won’t really remember it, but that doesn’t matter), or describe what you see outside of the window.
Be creative, and test out different voice tones, including talking a little louder and a little softer, or even use silly voices to make it interesting. Your little one will love listening to you, no matter what you say, and this really helps the two of you bond.
Since newborns need to work on their eye-tracking skills (which they'll use later on, especially as toddlers, to keep an eye on everything), a toy tracking game is a great idea. Just hold up one toy, move it slowly in front of your child’s face, about 6 inches away (since newborns don’t have the greatest vision since their eyes aren’t fully developed yet), and allow them to follow it with their eyes.
If you want to mix things up, switch the toys and how fast you move them, add in some funny noises (like a rocket ship) as you play, or point out things like the color and shape of the toy. This is a game perfect to be played anywhere, especially if you keep a few toys in your diaper bag.
In Summary: Picking the Games to Play
With so many different games to play, it's clear that life with a newborn will never be boring. Your options are endless! Choose to sing to your little one, play peek-a-boo, allow them to experience textures with objects, and more. Every one of these games is not only fun for you and your child (they'll smile, coo, and might even giggle accordingly), but they also help with their development. No fancy equipment necessary. Any game is possible when you use your imagination and the things around you!