Top 10 Creative Play Ideas for Babies

mother playing with baby

Babies love to explore the world around them and often the simplest ‘toys’ or repurposed household items can provide the most stimulation and enjoyment.  If you’ve ever left an open packet of wipes or a box of tissues near your little one I’m sure you know exactly how interesting everyday things can be for babies!

10 Creative Play Ideas for Babies

Safety first: Babies in this age group must be continuously supervised during play, particularly as they can enjoy exploring the world around them with their mouths and many objects can pose a choking hazard to our little people.

A box of fabric

Similar to the concept of pulling out wipes or tissues, you can create a box of your fabric scraps for your little one to explore.  You could use a container you already have (an old tissue box or a wipes holder would work!) and stuff it with fabric pieces of different sizes, shapes, colours and textures.  You could use old pieces of clothing that might have had holes or stains for your fabric scraps.  Babies love exploring the different materials and the task of pulling the pieces of fabric out and packing them back in is excellent for developing fine motor skills!

Ball rolling

Balls of different shapes and sizes are fantastic toys for babies! One favourite activity is playing a game of rolling a ball back and forward between you.  Find a space in your home without anything breakable –  like a hallway or a playroom with open space. Soft fabric balls with bells or rattles are great for younger infants as they can more easily grasp a bunch of the ball in their fist, and larger bouncier balls might prove more engaging once your baby starts to walk, run and kick. 

Play trays

With adult supervision, fill a container or tray with water, pom-poms, playdough, sand, coloured rice, grains, shredded paper, dry pasta – whatever works for you! Include plastic or wooden tools such as bowls, scoopers and cups. Babies may scoop, pour and transfer what they have in their tray, learning about how it feels, flows, squishes and moves. Babies can learn to manipulate tools and explore the properties of different materials through this activity.

Singing, dancing and making music

Music and sound are fantastic for babies! You can play any music that suits you, whether it’s Disney soundtracks, Mozart, T Swift or even the radio.  You can play your own ‘instruments’ along with the music too – try shakers and rattles, bells, xylophones or also get out the pots and pans with some wooden spoons! Why not introduce your baby to your favourite tunes and put on a concert for them?

Eye spy bottles

Colour rice  (place some rice in a zip lock bag, add a few drops of food colouring and vinegar. Squish the rice around the bag until it is all coloured and lay in the sun to dry) or use coloured grains (the soup aisle often has a variety like lentils and split peas). Pour the rice or grain into a see-through bottle with a lid. Add some little figurines, beads, pom-poms and sequins (a 2 dollar store usually has a selection of items of interest, or raid the party bags of any older siblings in the house). Put some glue around the inside of the lid to help keep it securely on the bottle.  Babies may enjoy rolling and shaking the bottle to discover new treasures and trinkets as they play.

Being Outside

Talk with your baby about the sounds you hear, movements you see, fragrances you can smell. Touch natural objects that are smooth, rough, bumpy etc.  See if your baby is interested in experiencing different textures under their feet as they walk on grass, or put their feet in the sand.  If you have a playground nearby, your baby might enjoy watching older children play on the equipment and begin to explore the playground themselves.

Painting

Painting is terrific fun, and you can go as mess-free or messy as you like here! You can add a few blobs of paint to a ziplock bag seal it and let your baby squish and squeeze the colours together, or create an artwork similarly by placing a sheet of paper in a plastic sleeve, adding some small paint blobs and sealing the open end with tape.  You could also get a big canvas and let baby create whatever they desire. The pay off for all the mess is a one of a kind artwork that you can keep forever, or use as a special gift for loved ones.  Look for non-toxic paints – there are many designed with younger users in mind.

Storytelling

Stories are so crucial for developing language skills! You can use board or fabric books, to begin with, so babies can learn about how to read a book and practice skills like turning pages and looking at pictures.  You can bring the stories to life by acting out the characters, putting on crazy voices and making noise to engage your baby with the story. You can also tell stories (either one from your childhood and favourite stories you’ve heard, or make them up as you go) and if you like you could bring them to life using puppets, or dressing up and acting out the characters.

Sensory obstacle course

A sensory obstacle course is a fantastic indoor activity for days when you can’t get outside. You might want to rearrange some furniture, drape blankets or use boxes to create ‘tunnels’.  Suspend coloured scarves or ribbons at one end of the tunnel for your baby to crawl or walkthrough. Place a mirror (the ones that can detach from baby play mats are ideal) and a torch (night lights that project stars all around the room are fun for babies to see) at different points in the tunnel. Include different textured materials for your baby to interact with as well as cushions and blankets for your baby to climb and crawl over.

Photo albums 

Babies are learning to recognise different faces and expressions, so photo albums are a great way to facilitate this development.  As well as people, you can also include important places like grandmas house or your favourite playground. You could even create a book that shows your daily routine starting with baby in bed, then having breakfast, maybe walking in the pram or getting in the car seat. 

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