1 Grab it!
Your baby should now be reaching out for objects, and this game encourages your baby to grab exciting objects. Pop your baby on the floor on her tummy, then place a fun object or favourite toy on the carpet just out of her reach. If she wants it she’ll have to move for it. But keep an eye out, because if your baby isn’t up for this one she may get frustrated, and you’ll have to move the toy to within her reach after a few minutes.
2 Make your own roll-along toy
Find two empty plastic bottles. Steam the labels off the bottles, cut off the top sections, then fill one of the bottles with a few of your child’s favourite toys. Jam the cut end of the second bottle over the cut end of the first, tape around the join, making sure there aren’t any sharp edges, and you now have your own homemade roll-along. Show your baby how it works by tapping it along the floor and then let her give it a go. Just keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t get it open.
3 Treasure basket
Put a dozen little toys in a box with an easy-lift lid. Your baby will keep very busy putting them in and out and sorting them. Rolled up socks will work just as well.
4 Pop the peas in
Defrost some frozen peas. Put a few handfuls on a plastic plate. Place a muffin baking tin by the plates and encourage your baby to put the peas in the different muffin wells.
5 Home-made sensory tunnel
This is really clever – you can make your baby’s own sensory tunnel. Take a large cardboard box, turn it on one side, and then securely tie an assortment of brightly coloured objects on string dangling across the open end. Go for different heights and objects of varying texture, softness, and anything that makes a noise. Pop a soft blanket underneath your baby. Start with your baby lying on his back, and then as he starts to crawl, encourage him to move through the box by putting him one end and running round to the other end. Make sure the objects are all tied securely and keep a close eye on him as he plays, so that there’s no risk of choking or tangling.
6 Kitchen drumming
Once your baby is able to sit up, set up an array of turned-over saucepans, give him a wooden spoon and let the rumpus begin.
Your baby likes to hold onto things, so he’ll love this tug of war. Give him one end of the tea towel, hold the other end yourself and vary pulling and releasing – do it gently so he doesn’t lose his balance.
8 Top of the World
Carefully lift your baby up onto your shoulders to ride ‘piggy back’, while keeping a tight hold of her thighs and bottom so she can’t slip. As well as helping her balance, she’ll love viewing the world from a different angle.
9 Point and Squirt
This is a great game to play in the bath. Little ones love to play in the bath and this game has an added tickly element. You’ll need a cheap little water pistol. All you need to do is point to one of her body parts, telling her what you’re pointing at, then squirt it with the water, telling her what you’re squirting. In time she’ll start joining in too, and even asking you to squirt a certain area of her body.
10 Let Rip
This game is all about tearing – let him loose on a number of different materials, and show him how to get ripping. However, if your baby is not ready for this – and ends up cramming the paper into his mouth rather than tearing it – save it for another month. Remember to keep an eye on her while she tears.
11 Sock it & see
Babies love socks – especially when they can empty out sock drawers. To play this game, roll several socks into balls and encourage her to try to throw them into the basket or bowl. When she’s ready for a change, put one of the socks on your hand as a puppet.
12 Ready Thready
Strap your baby into his high chair, tie a large knot in the end of a piece of string about 30cm long and give your baby this and a pile of dry cereal shapes. Show him how to thread a bit of cereal onto the string and then let him have a go. He’ll be so intrigued as his pincer grip is developing well at this point.
13 Play handyman
This one’s for older babies from around 11 months. When you’re outside, doing outdoor jobs by the house, help your baby feel included. Give her a clean paintbrush, a pot of water and let her ‘paint’ a wall or piece of outdoor furniture and watch her proud look when she’s ‘finished’.
14 Unleash your inner diva
You might think you’re a woeful warbler but your baby will love hearing you sing. Try varying your tone from high and squeaky to low and growly, and all pitches in between, to see what he likes. As he gets older, add his name into songs to raise a giggle.
15 Ride the lift
“We enjoy time together in the lift in our apartment building!” says Sheryl, 35, mum to Katy, 7 months. “Katy loves the low noise and slow motion and when I put her in front of the mirrors, she laughs at our reflections. I hold her hand and push the buttons with her – and as they light up, she waves her arms and legs around and makes squawking noises! We’ve spent ages in there, just going up to the roof and back down again – without even setting foot outside the lift!”