Smile Making: Ways to Engage Your Growing Baby In Play


Interacting with your baby is becoming more and more fun, but as he develops, you may find yourself wondering, “What should we be doing differently during playtime?” You can satisfy your instinct to keep your little one entertained by continuing to engage in certain classic baby games together, while also introducing new ‘older toys’ to expand his horizons. Here are some suggestions from the heart on how to keep your baby mentally stimulated through play- both with you and on his own.

One Amusing Mama
You started playing Peek-A-Boo the day you brought your bundle of joy home from the hospital, and bub still loves it. Babies don’t usually tire of this classic and you should keep vanishing and reappearing for your little one- it will help him understand object permanence (i.e., even though he can’t see you, you’re still there). When you need a break from this game, try bonding with baby using a few others:

  • Make Music With Your Mouths: Long before they learn to talk, babies blow raspberries. Carry on making noises together. Play motorboat with bub’s lips, click your tongue, make smooches, pat your open mouth to break up the sound you’re creating and serenade bub with animal noises. Watch in delight as bub mimics you better and better over time.
  • Play ‘Round, Round Ballie’: This simple song & game gets them every time. Do the actions below as you sing: “Round, round ballie. Pull a piece of hair. One slice. Two slice. Tickle, tickle there!” Hold your baby’s palm out flat. Circle round and round with your finger. Gently tug his hair, then karate chop up his arm and tickle his underarm.

Playing with your little one helps develop his muscles and mind. By nine months of age, you will notice a significant increase in your child’s strength and coordination. He’ll also become bored more quickly. What happened to that baby who was content lying around, cooing at mobiles and shiny objects while you cooked dinner? Don’t exhaust yourself trying to keep him entertained. Instead, invest in some playthings to distract and encourage growth in your child.

Toys You’ll Both Love
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to spend 100% of your time as Baby’s Personal Entertainer, but you can keep him happy with toys that “speak” or make noise, stack, have shapes to sort, or toys built around “surprise” actions. An old fashioned ball is always a hit, too. Here are a few of our favorites for this age group:

  • Activity Centers
    Your baby has had head and neck control for a few months now and is ready for a saucer-style play center, which keeps him in one place with a wrap-around tray. A wide variety of toys will hold his interest and keep him entertained, as will the ability to not only stand on his own, but also spin around.
  • Jumpers
    Your baby wants to be active but you don’t want him bouncing off the furniture and hurting himself. A jumper is a great way for him to expand his newfound energy. This is a spring-loaded baby seat that attaches to a doorframe, providing every little one with the mobility he craves. Not to mention hours of bouncy fun.

While your little one is bobbing about safely is a good time to get those baby-proofing gates and latches installed around the house. If he isn’t already exploring cabinets, stairs and outlets as a part of his playtime shenanigans, he will be soon. Take precaution before he gets those legs working at full capacity and- just as importantly- enjoy getting smiles out of your baby during this exciting stage between infancy and toddlerhood.

Your heart is telling you to engage your little one in play. And whether you follow its advice using classic mommy and baby games, simple playthings, sophisticated toys or a mix of these methods, what’s truly important is that you and your baby are having fun in the process.

Share in the wondrous journey of parenthood with our Graco family.