How to play with your baby WITHOUT toys!

by Sharon Weisz
Share on Pinterest
Enter any play centre or simply what used to be your living room and you will see a plethora of plastic primary-coloured toys and objects. 
You can’t take more than a few steps without accidentally kicking over a toy that your baby absolutely can’t live without, right?! 
WRONG! Did you know that the best way to interact with your baby and grab his/her attention is through “people games”. These are games that involve people and potentially a “prop”, such as a laundry basket for laundry basket rides and a shaker for shaking along with a song you are singing together. 

Tips for using People Games:

Step 1.
When playing with your baby, first sit back and observe what he does. 

Step 2.
Join in by imitating his actions and sounds. This will grab his attention. Keep it going back and forth until baby starts to lose interest, NOT until YOU lose interest. Give it at least 4-5 back and forth chances before introducing any change.
Step 3.
Make a change because our brains are programmed to react to novel stimuli, but only make one change at a time. 
See below for ideas on how to change it up:

– CHANGE PERSON- if dad was playing peek-a-boo, mom can start. If baby was sitting on mom’s lap while rolling a ball back and forth, have baby move to dad’s lap. 

– CHANGE RATE – if you were singing, talking, or rolling a ball at regular speed, slow it down or speed it up

– CHANGE TONE – increase your loudness or pitch or perhaps decrease it by using a whisper or a deep voice. 

– CHANGE WORD – if you were lifting baby up and saying “uuup”, try “weeee” instead after at least 4-5 trials. 

– CHANGE ACTION- if you were clapping your hands, tap your head, tap the table, or stomp your feet. 

– CHANGE ACTIVITY – this should be the LAST change you make after you have tried other changes and baby is just not interested. We want baby to stay at an activity for longer so try the other ideas first. 

Here are some “people games” you can try at home and on-the-go:
1. PEEK-A-BOO –  variations may include hiding behind baby’s high chair, around the corner or ducking your head under the table. You may also use a prop, such as a blanket or washcloth or even your own shirt or jacket. Wait for baby to reach for your hands and/or make a sound before you appear. 
2. TAPPING ON THE HIGH CHAIR TRAY – imitate your baby’s taps. Vary it up by changing the rhythm or tapping your head or baby’s hands. 
3. UP/DOWN –  lifting baby up while saying “uuup” and down while saying “down” or “boom” or “plop” in a silly voice.
4. KISSES – kiss tummy or toes while changing baby. Kiss one foot and then the other and then tap baby’s feet on your cheeks. Make up your own variation.  
5.  TICKLES – Play this little piggy on baby’s toes, tickle baby saying “koocheekoo” and wait for a response. 
6. BUBBLES  – go 1,2,3 or inhale for 3 counts and blow dramatically onto the baby before blowing the bubbles. Sing a song about bubbles. Catch the bubbles on the wand for baby to pop and wait for baby to indicate they want more. 
7.  WATER PLAY- splash the water, drop objects in the water, pretend to drink from a cup or bottle while saying “gulp gulp gulp ahhh”
8. SING SONGS  with actions or signs. Pause before key words and wait. 

Most importantly, HAVE FUN!

For more ideas, please feel free to contact
Share on Pinterest

Agree? Disagree? JOIN IN