Games for Babies Aged 9 Months through One Year

At this age, your baby can use her entire body to explore the world!  When you started to play games with your little one, several months ago, all you could hope for was to see your baby imitate only one or two movements of yours. They easily mastered their hand movements; they learned how to open and close each hand and then learned that they could move separate fingers - they especially enjoy using their pincer grasp to pick up small objects, such as individual Cheerios, crumbs on the floor that you missed when you swept and every single tiny item you wish they'd leave alone, since they put everything into their mouths!

Toward the end of their first year, babies enjoy pulling themselves up without your assistance, and once in this upright position, they love to cruise along whatever is supporting them.

After they take those first steps, they never go back to crawling. They want to run, not walk; they will crawl under the kitchen table and through the legs of any nearby chairs; they will try to get into any space that looks interesting. This kind of exploration will require much more supervision - babies can manage to get themselves into, under and/or between too many things that they are unable to get themselves out of! Remember also, babies have no judgment at this time in their lives, therefore, when they want to stand up, they will grasp and pull on anything within reach. This can include an unsteady bookcase, curtains that are not securely hung or those made of fabric that can be easily torn, an electrical cord, a family pet, a sibling, etc.

One more important new job for every parent: you need to be available to help your child change positions. Just because your baby is learning how to stand and take a step or two, do not assume they know how to sit down or get into a more comfortable position on their own, without falling. They may stand and scream in frustration, because they feel stuck.

Their desire to master their world is powerful. When this desire is thwarted in any way, babies are unable to understand the purpose behind it. This frustration can lead to tantrums, but that's a topic for another TIP! In any event, your baby is now at a stage of development where s/he is no longer happy with the games that s/he thoroughly enjoyed just a short time ago! So your reperatoire must keep pace with the growing curiosity of your little one.

Two standard types of play, at this age, can be expanded on, to fit the personality of your family. They are signing and making noise/music.

As mentioned in previous Tips, children enjoy hearing a parent sing to them. You may think you can't carry a tune in a bucket, however, your little one doesn't know that you're a bit off key - what they know and value is that you are spending time with them. What babies see and hear is you looking happy, you making happy sounds, you giving them smiles and eye contact and ultimately you giving them hugs and kisses. Life doesn't get a lot better for a baby than that!

Also mentioned previously is that little ones begin to learn language at a very early age. They may not know the definitions of specific words but by this age they can recognize thier own language and are learning word patterns. Singing nursery rhymes and adding hand motions, encouraging your baby to join with you, is not just fun, but it's also educational. Teaching babies to have fun while learning is a very special gift.

Singing Old MacDonald Had a Farm, The Ants Go Marching One by One, Frere Jacques, Mary Had a Little Lamb, If You're Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands and the old stand-by, the ABCs are just a few. Remember, you don't have to know all of the words, nor say them correctly. Have fun!

Making noise/music can be done with "instruments" that cost next to nothing.  You can show your baby how to turn a wooden spoon and a pot into a set of drums, you can show your baby how to blow into a cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper and/or a roll of paper towels.

Keep in mind, if your little one is an early walker, you can turn your signing and music making into a family marching band! Dance with your baby in your arms, as you sing. Give your baby permission to make noise - we may hear their sounds as something that shohuld stop, but for them it's an expression. With guidance and patience, their noise making can turn into something more pleasant!

One more skill that children this age can learn is how to match the shape of an object with the hole of the same shape. You can buy a container with specififc hole shapes and blocks made into shapes that match the openings in the containers or you can make your own, using an empty oatmeal box - you can create shaped blocks to match the openings on the container's lid, by wadding up aluminum foil into whatever shapes you want. Then show your baby how to drop the round shape into the round hole, the square shape into the square hole, etc.  If you use different colored material you can add more to this game by identifying colors when your baby plays.

Remember, playing is how babies learn. Keep games fun and enjoy yourself - this time will go by too quickly!