Boosting Your Infant And Toddler's Development The Easy Way
As a parent to a young child, some of our favorite games are ones we can play lying down, preferably while pretending to be asleep. Luckily for you, we’ve gathered up our favorite activities that require minimal effort from you while still engaging your kids in ways that promote their development. Read on, and enjoy!
If you’re a parent to a young child, it’s probably been a long time since you’ve thought to yourself “I just have SO much energy right now!”. You’re likely chugging down your favorite caffeinated beverage, fantasizing about the next time you’ll have a couple minutes to yourself, daydreaming about a full night’s sleep, or mentally exhausted simply thinking about your never ending to-do list.
The last thing you probably want to do is make even more work for yourself, and sometimes playing with your child can feel just like that: work. But parenting doesn’t have to always be about the drudgery of day-to-day logistics. Children naturally bring play to your life (along with the chores), and you don’t have to let those opportunities to connect with your child pass you by, simply because you’re too tired to stand up. While playing with your child may sound like another task that will only suck more energy from you, sometimes, all you need is your voice to engage with your child.
We’ve got you covered with these five games you can play while sitting or lying down, that only require your voice. Not only are they low-impact for you, they are also developmentally stimulating for your young child.
So kick back, grab your eye mask, get cozy under a blanket, and try out these games with your kiddo.
Ideal for: 0-6 Months
This game helps develop your child’s gross motor skills while enhancing the bond you share through physical touch.
- Lie down on your back in a comfortable position.
- Place your baby on you so that he is lying on his tummy. Make sure he is supported so that he does not roll off.
- Take a few deep breaths so your belly rises and falls, watch your baby’s reaction as he rises and falls with your breathing.
- If your baby seems content, you can simply continue to breathe and let him hear your heartbeat. If it seems like he’s antsy or disinterested, you can try engaging him by singing a favorite song.
Ideal for: 7-18 Months
“Where is Thumbkin?” is a beloved classic nursery rhyme that teaches your child how to mimic your finger movements. This can enhance fine motor skills along with social-emotional skills through imitation. For younger children, simply let them watch your actions. For older children, look to see if they attempt to copy you.
- Sit down in a comfortable position and begin to sing “Where Is Thumbkin?”.
- While singing, act out the motions with your hands and encourage your child to imitate you.
- Start with both hands behind your back, bringing one hand out first and the other one out when you sing "Here I am." Starting with your thumb, highlight each finger one by one as you sing each verse.
- If you can muster up the energy, take the opportunity to be silly and surprise your child. You can tickle, make exaggerated facial expressions, and dance.
Ideal for: 7-18 Months
This game begins to teach your child the foundations of empathy, an important social-emotional skill for establishing and maintaining healthy relationships.
- Lie down on the couch and “pretend” to be tired (you probably don’t need to pretend at all).
- Get your child’s attention and say “I’m SO tired! Can you give me a hug?”
- Let your child give a hug and then point out how happy you are, using exaggerated expressions.
- If your child does not seem interested in giving you a hug, you can suggest other things that might cheer you up. You can also model self-compassion by giving yourself a hug and showing how much that helped.
Ideal For: 19-24 Months
Simon Says may seem like a simple game, but it’s actually quite the cognitive challenge for your little one. Listening, paying attention, and following instructions are all important skills that he is developing around this age.
- Of course, first find a comfortable seat for yourself.
- Invite your child to join you in a game of "Simon Says" - explain that you will tell him what to do and then he should do it.
- Start with basic instructions (ex: "Simon Says, touch your nose”). You can demonstrate if your child needs a visual cue.
- Keep going through other actions (ex: jump, stomp, clap, pat, twirl, go, and freeze). See what he likes doing best and repeat those actions a few times, emphasizing things that he finds funny (ex: You can say, "Jump like a monkey" instead of just, "Jump up and down"). If you need to show your child how to do the action first, maybe keep it low-key instead of jumping around. :)
- If you’re feeling up to it by the end of the game, give your child the chance to give you instructions and see what he comes up with!
Ideal For: 25-36 Months
This takes the game of Simon Says and makes it even more complex for older children. Watch your child’s cognitive skills grow by incorporating the abstract concept of colors into your game, along with 2-step directions.
- Begin to play Simon Says as described above.
- Incorporate some instructions that involve color. For example, you can ask your child to go find a green object and bring it to you.
- Next, ask him to follow a 2-step instruction, for example: “Find something white and sit on it”.
- If you get creative, you can also turn this into a way for your child to pamper you. Maybe you can ask for a foot rub, or a piece of chocolate, or anything that will help you relax!
This article is part of a series in collaboration with Playfully.
Playfully makes it easier for busy parents to set their children up for a lifetime of success. By partnering with child development experts and distilling their knowledge into personalized, bite-sized, actionable chunks, Playfully helps you support your child’s growth and development through play and makes sure you have FUN while doing so.
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