Today I wanted to share a list of eight games that older siblings can play with their younger baby brothers or sisters. Many older siblings just love to play with their younger siblings, especially if younger sibling is a baby. Babies are so much fun to play with, right? The problem lies in that sometimes older siblings don’t really know of appropriate ways to their baby brother or sister. Here are eight games appropriate for older siblings, as young as three or four, to play with baby. As with all child play, adult supervision is still required.
William (5) loves Kent (1). I mean, this kid really, really loves his baby brother. William loves Kent so much that he dreams at night about playing with him. One evening, William fell asleep on the couch and when my husband went to carry him to bed, William, still completely asleep, muttered, ” Snoogie [Kent’s nickname]. Snoogie people…Snoogie is a tiger…I play with the Snoogie Tiger…” This has actually happened on two separate occasions, that we know of. Who knows how often William actually dreams about his baby brother. The point is, he is kind of obsessed. And that obsession has been a bit of a problem sometimes because William didn’t always know how to play with his baby brother. William would hug too hard, or pull on Kent’s feet, or try to carry him around the house. So, I had to teach my oldest son how to play with the baby.
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Today I want to share those baby games with you. I taught William eight baby games he can play with Kent. They are easy games that will still require adult supervision as all child play should, but they are simple enough that even older siblings who are young, themselves, can play. Some may be more familiar to you than others, but all are appropriate for baby play from about 6 months on.
This is always a baby favorite, and even some pediatric experts consider the willingness of playing peek-a-boo a baby milestone. Begin by teaching older sibling to sit directly in front of baby, who should also be sitting up or supported in a bouncy chair or high chair. Older sibling places his own hands over his eyes and says, “Where’s ___ (fill in name)?” Then, lifting his hands from his eyes, older sibling says, “Peek-a-boo! here I am!” It is important to teach older sibling that the purpose of this game is not to scare or startle baby, but to play a quiet game together.
Reading Picture Books
Not much warms my heart more than seeing William or Corinne reading a familiar book to Kent. The books that will be most successful are song books, like Wheels on the Bus or You Are My Sunshine, or familiar board books that your child knows well enough to practically recite. Baby will love being read by big brother or sister!
Hide and Seek
For this game baby needs to be big enough to crawl, or at least scoot around on the floor. Place baby near the corner of a solid object, like a couch, doorway, or bed. Older sibling then hides around the corner and says, “Where’s ___ (fill in name)? Can you find me?” Wait until baby crawls around to find older sibling. If baby does not react immediately, older sibling can peek around the corner to prompt baby to come find him. Again, it is important to teach older sibling that the purpose of this game is not to startle baby.
Bean Bag Head
That’s a funny name for a game, but it is one of William’s favorite to play with Kent. Position older sibling and baby so that they are facing one another, both sitting up. Teach older sibling to gently place a small, light-weight beanbag on baby’s head. (You can also use a small washcloth, but because a bean bag is heavier it will be easier for baby to feel). Older sibling says, “Beanbag head!” Baby will smile and take the beanbag off. If baby is close to about a year old, he will try to put the beanbag on older sibling’s head as well. It’s a silly game, but well loved at our house!
Drumming or Cymbals
Beginning at about nine months, some babies begin clapping. This can be used to your advantage as older sibling encourages baby to “clap” on a drum or tambourine with his hand.
I’m Gonna’ Get You
For this game baby needs to be able to crawl. Older sibling gets down on all fours and says to baby, “I’m gonna’ get you,” and then begins to crawl after baby. If baby is ready for this game, he will crawl away to avoid being caught, for a little while at least. Kent’s favorite part of this game is when William finally gets him and gives him a light tickle.
Where Did It Go?
This game is meant for older babies, closer to a year. Position older sibling and baby so that they are facing one another, both sitting up. Older sibling shows baby a small toy, then places it beside baby and asks, “Where did it go?” Baby will look for the toy and grab it. Once baby gets that hang of this game, older sibling can make things more difficult by moving the toy more and more behind the baby. This will encourage baby to really twist to find the toy. It is important in this game to teach older sibling that once baby finds the toy he most likely will want to chew on it for a few seconds, so don’t take it away too soon!
Roll and Fetch
Yes, a game of fetch is fun and good for baby. If baby can crawl, older sibling can roll a large ball across the room to baby, or away form baby, and encourage baby to crawl after the ball. Again, it is important in this game to teach older sibling that once baby gets the ball he most likely will want to play with it for a few seconds, so don’t take it away too soon, or baby will cry out of frustration.
***Remember, all games should be supervised by a responsible adult. Never allow your children or baby to play unsupervised!***