If you’re wondering how to interact with your baby in the early days, just think back to your own childhood. Games your mom played with you are not outdated. In addition to making baby smile, silly baby rituals like “this little piggy went to market” teach your child some important early skills. Here are some favorites, and some things you may not know about them.
· Peek-a-boo – This is one of the most important, because it teaches your baby that even when you can’t see something, it’s still there. When your child gets older and starts to have anxiety separation, knowing that things that he can’t see will come back (meaning you) will come back.
· Patty-cake – Clapping your hands or your baby’s hands with this rhyme will help teach early motor coordination, though don’t expect baby to be able to clap on his own until he is over a year old.
· Where are baby’s eyes? This simple ritual of pointing out where baby’s body parts are located is great for teaching not only the body parts themselves, but teaching him to respond to your questions. If you give lots of praise when he finds his nose on his own, he will be encouraged to respond to your requests of any nature.
· The itsy bitsy spider – This favorite song from our childhood teaches the coordination of words with actions, so don’t forget to get your spider climbing fingers into the groove.
· How big? – You can teach the concept of large and small, as well as helping gross motor development by asking how big things are and spreading arms wide or putting hands close together for small things.
· Old MacDonald – This old, old song is a great way to teach animals and the sounds they make. Your child will be able to imitate the sounds long before they can sing the song, so encourage a duet on this one.
· One, two, buckle my shoe – This one is great for teaching numbers, and kids love to hear rhymes.
· Songs – Babies love to hear you sing, so it’s important to get a good repertoire. You may also find that one particular song can calm your baby when nothing else will, so pay close attention to your baby’s reactions to different songs.
You might feel silly playing some of these games at first, but once you see the impact on your baby, you’ll get over your stage fright. Games and songs are critical to your baby’s development and to cementing that bond between the two of you. These little rituals are your first opportunity to have fun with your baby, so don’t miss out!