A Fun Variation of Peekaboo

Location: Indoors or outdoors

Promotes: Cognitive development, fine motor skills, object permanence

If you’re looking for a new baby activity to engage your little one, this peekaboo game is sure to be a hit. Watch in wonder as this simple baby game strengthens all kinds of developmental concepts and supports your child toward reachingan important baby milestone.

How to play
Your 7- to 9-month-old baby will rediscover her favorite toy in this twist on peekaboo called peek-a-bear. Take a treasured toy, like a teddy bear, and partially hide it under a blanket. Then urge your baby to find the bear. If she’s able to, let her grab for the bear; if not, pick it up yourself and exclaim, “I found the bear!” Repeat the game as long as you can hold your baby’s attention. The trick is to build excitement over finding the toy, since your baby will feed off your glee during this baby activity.

Tricks and advice
As your little one progresses with this baby game, raise the bar by hiding the toy completely under the blanket. Make sure that as the difficulty increases, your praise does, too! Change things up by hiding different toys -- this may boost your little one's interest in the game and can also help develop early language recognition.

Learning and growing
Object permanence is crucial to your baby’s understanding of the world. Baby activities that establish that Mommy is still around even if she can’t be seen are an early step toward developing your baby’s memory. This activity also encourages motor development, as your child uses hand-eye coordination to reach and grasp for the hidden toy.

What you’ll need
It’s easy: All you’ll need is a blanket or towel and a toy your baby will delight in finding.

The game is simple, but it’ll work wonders in terms of your baby learning more about the world. And she’s sure to have a blast while doing it! 

Photo by Ana Tablas on Unsplash

Play and Activities With Your 2-Month-Old

The past two months have been a whirlwind of sleepless nights and round-the-clock feedings. At this point, you're probably getting into a routine with your 2-month-old infant. In these early childhood development stages, she's ready for more activity and interaction with you.

Tummy time
If you haven't done so already, now is the perfect time to introduce her to tummy time. Letting your baby spend time on her tummy when she’s awake and alert will help strengthen her back and neck muscles. Place her on her tummy on a blanket on the floor. Prop her on her arms, making sure there are no blankets or toys around her face. Now watch her try to lift her head and move it from side to side. Start with about 3 to 5 minutes a few times a day and gradually increase the amount of time for each tummy session.

Share smiles
At around this age, your baby may develop a social smile, which is a huge milestone for all parents -- that grin just melts your heart every time you see it. Prop her on your lap, talk to her, and smile at her. She'll be entertained and engaged simply by the sound of your voice and the look on your face. The rewards of this activity will be priceless: It's amazing what a newborn's smile can do for a new mom!

Read together
One more great activity is reading together. Now is the perfect time to get into the routine of reading a bedtime story to your baby before putting her down for the night. With any luck, that bedtime story will lead to a good night's sleep, because you both have another big day of play and activities tomorrow!

Doing fun activities with your 2-month-old contributes to healthy development. And just spending time together will make both of you happy.

Photo by Minnie Zhou on Unsplash

Play and Activities for Your 4-Month-Old

The changes your baby has gone through from the time you brought her home to now have been unbelievable. Who could have thought that in these few months she could grow into this little person? She's becoming more and more social every day, and playtime just gets better.

Offer a toy
Hand her a toy that rattles or makes crinkly sounds and watch her reaction when she grabs it. If it's a toy that makes music when she touches it or squeezes it, does it make her smile? Toys that help her learn about the different senses are both educational and magical to a baby. Does she have a favorite lovey item yet? She may be able to pass this toy from hand to hand, and it may be fun to play a back-and-forth game with her. Remember when she first smiled at 2 months? Around now she’ll start to giggle – which is even better!  

Go for a game
At 4 months you want to play games that engage her senses. Help her round out her understanding of the world by playing games that involve different textures and scents. Bubbles are fascinating to babies. Blow them around your baby and she’ll be endlessly entertained. Or play “This Little Piggy” while you’re getting her dressed and ready to leave for the day. She’ll love to be tickled and stimulated, and it’s also a good game to learn about touch – and to distract her when you want to put her socks on!  

Set up a playdate
Have you had a playdate yet? Why not invite one or two mom friends over who have babies around the same age? Put your babies on the floor together, along with a few toys, and watch what happens. You’ll love watching your baby play with her new friends -- you could probably use the time to talk to other moms as well.

Playing with your baby and creating a fun and active environment is vital to early childhood development. Keep her active, and you'll raise a happy, healthy, and well-adjusted baby!

The Top Toddler Playdate Tips

Those first toddler playdates can be so sweet (for kids and parents). What's not so sweet is when the fun suddenly morphs into a toddler tantrum and a fight over toys. Here, some must-know parenting advice to ensure that toddler play during playdates is as fun-filled and stress-free as possible for everyone involved.

When to schedule your first toddler playdate

Your child probably won’t start truly interacting with other kids until age 3. (Before this, you may find that toddlers sit side by side during playdates and do not actually engage with each other -- which is called parallel play.) Signs that your child is ready to play with a friend include being more aware of other people’s feelings (asking why another child is sad, for example) and showing curiosity about what her neighbor is doing or playing with. Keep in mind that at this age, your child probably hasn’t yet mastered the idea of cooperation and doesn’t have enough vocabulary to explain her frustrations. This means you should be ready to do damage control if tempers start to get out of hand during toddler play.

How to prepare for a playdate

Start by reaching out to the other's child's parents and setting some mutual goals for toddler play. Agreeing to keep the playdate short will help ease the frustrations that result when kids are overly tired or stimulated. Once you’ve scheduled the playdate, give your tot a heads-up. Tell her that Sally is coming over to play and that she’ll need to share her toys. Let her choose some special toys that can be put away, and not shared, during the playdate. Practice how to be a good friend by taking turns and sharing toys with your child -- it will help her understand these expectations.

What to do during the playdate

Once you’ve completed all your preparations, you’re ready for the big day! You'll want to stay in the room during the first playdate, but you don’t want to be overly engaged. Your job is not to direct toddler play but to be readily available if needed. If things do become heated, feel free to dive in. A simple explanation can work wonders: “Sally hasn’t had a chance to play with the doll yet. How about we set a timer for you to play with it for three more minutes, then you can give it to Sally.”

Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a perfect playdate. Whether toddler play ends in hugs or tears, your child will still have gained valuable social skills that will set her up for future friendships.

Encourage Your Child’s Development at Dinner

Between hosting a toddler playdate, dropping an older child off at a ballet lesson, and catching up on some work, many moms have little time to put dinner on the table -- let alone sit down with their kids while they eat.

But the benefits of gathering for a meal together go beyond knowing whether your child ate her broccoli or snuck it to the dog. Regular family meals have been linked to a lower rate of obesity. Family mealtimes can also be a boon for child development, since your dinnertime conversation may boost your 3-year-old’s vocabulary and social skills.

Ready to chat and chew? Keep this parenting advice front and center to get the most out of your mealtimes.

Make family meals a regular event. Don’t stress if you can’t sit down for every meal together. Aim to eat as a family three to four times a week (you could even put the dates on a calendar to ensure that the whole family remembers).

Leave technology off the table. The television, cell phones, laptops, and even the radio can be a distraction and take away from the time you have together at the dinner table. Turn off technology (parents, too!) until the meal is over.

Engage your child. It’s easy to get lost in your lasagna and forget to talk. Make an effort to ask your tot questions about her day at preschool or what she did at the park. The more you talk, the more you’ll help build language and other child development skills. Feel free to use words she may not know yet (“Do you like how this eggplant tastes?”), as the dinner table is the perfect place to explain what things mean. Keep the conversation flowing by listening intently to your child and asking follow-up questions, as well as sharing information about your day, too.

Your regular family dinners will in time become a wonderful tradition that continues as your child gets older. Of course, life can get in the way of a planned pizza night. If that’s the case, simply reschedule for another night. Bon appétit!

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash