Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Five Interactive Games to Teach a Nine Month Old

Guess what? My baby is nine months old, and she can finally play and interact well with us. I love it!

Here are some simple games you can play with your baby. Your baby might pick up on some of these activities immediately, and others might take a little while. Don't stress if they don't work for you right now. They don't have to! When you're a parent, you do what works.

1. Peek-a-Boo
This sounds simple, right? I mean, you've probably played peek-a-boo with your wee one when she was just a few weeks or months old. Did you know that your baby can play it herself now? All it takes is a little practice.

Start by playing peek-a-boo with a blanket when your baby is in a good mood. Hold it up so she can't see you, and then drop it. Tell her, "Peek a boo!" Once she is into the game, help her hold the blanket. Do it a few times with her. Then, hand her the blanket and say, "OK, you do it!"


Both of my children seemed so proud when they learned to do this game all by themselves. I remember back in the day when I'd be folding laundry with Oliver, and I'd have to call out "Peek a boo!" every time he got a hold of an article of clothing. It's super cute when your baby can initiate a game herself.

2. Baby Drumming
At this age, your baby wants to communicate with you. She can't talk yet, but she'll be delighted when she can do something and you respond to it.

Teach her to drum! You don't need a drum. You can use an upside down coffee can or a large piece of tupperware or whatever is laying around. I have an empty wooden box from a board game, and it works perfectly.

When your baby is in a good mood, sit down with her and place the "drum" between you. Take your hand and pat it. Do it again and again. If your baby doesn't reach to do it herself, gently take her arm and do it for her. She'll probably smile when her hand comes down and makes a noise. Every time she drums, be sure to do it back. She will get such a kick out of it!

She might not be talk to you with her words, but she'll love that she can send you a message that you'll understand. Drum away!


3. The Sharing Game
We started this game with Oliver. Joanna loves it just as much. Actually, no, I think she enjoys this game even more than Oliver ever did.

I think this game takes a little more practice than the others, but your baby will pick up on it and will get a total kick out of playing it with you.

Hand your baby a little toy. Let her examine it and shake it or bang it or whatever she likes to do these days. Then, take it from her. She'll look shocked at first, but just tell her, "Oh, thank you! Thank you for sharing with me! You're so nice." Then, give it back. If your baby is like mine, she'll look stunned for a bit. I like to pretend to read my baby's mind, and so I'm pretty sure she thought, "What the heck just happened?" when we first played this game.

Take the toy from her a few times, each time cooing at your baby and telling her thank you for sharing with you. Don't keep it for long. Give it right back. After you've done it a few times, start holding your hands out expectantly at her when she's playing with her toy. You can even ask, "Can I have that?" The first few times, your baby might not be good at getting the item to you at all. She might just drop it. That's your baby trying to give it to you. Make a big deal out of it, coo, and say thanks.

Soon, you'll be playing the sharing game. You'll hold your hands out, and she'll drop it in. You'll say thanks, and she'll smile proudly. Then, you give it back. Rinse and repeat.

Here's the post I made of Oliver when he was 9 months old and playing this game.

Here's a video of Joanna playing the sharing game:

4. Echo!
Joanna invented this game herself. Maybe she'll be an inventor like her great-grandfather, Charlie.

We gave her a water bottle without the lid. She was babbling away and heard it echo. The expression on her face was priceless. Andrew made noises into it, and gave it back to Jo. Before long, they were alternating turns yelling into the empty bottle. It's become a regular daddy-daughter game.

5. Patty Cake
OK, you're going to be doing most of the work for this game. Clap your hands together, and then pat your baby's hands with your own. Do you know the patty cake rhyme? It's pretty simple:
Patty cake, patty cake, baker's man. Bake me a cake as fast as you can. Roll it, pat (prick) it, mark it with a B, put it in the oven for baby and me!

We've always said "pat it," but, apparently, some people know the rhyme as "prick it."  You can also have fun changing the letter to your child's first initial.  "Mark it with a J, put it in the oven for Joanna and me!"

Babies love the interaction and will stare in wonder as you pat their hands.  You can do some variations of this game. If your baby loves clapping, let her clap while you clap and say the rhyme.  You can add in fun little things like "pricking" your baby's belly button when you say "prick it," or rolling your baby's arms when you say "roll it."

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