10 First-Year Games for You and Baby

baby holding ball

Where Did It Go?

Take a koosh ball or other soft ball and squish it into a small container with a lid. Close the lid. Ask your baby, “Where did the ball go?” Encourage him to open the container and watch the ball spring out, jack-in-the-box style. The popping ball is sure to get his attention, and the game is an exciting way to learn about object permanence — the fact that an object still exists even if you can’t see it — explains Susan P. Epstein, a parenting coach in New London, Connecticut.

colorful stacked plastic containers

Kitchen Stack-Ups

This cheap baby game only requires what you already have in your kitchen. Empty cereal boxes, plastic yogurt containers, and unbreakable bowls are perfect building materials for teetering towers. As you stack each item, describe its size and shape. Once your homemade skyscraper is complete, you and your baby can take turns knocking it down. This activity, Epstein says, will teach your baby about shapes and sizes as well as cause and effect (“Wow, when I push on these boxes, they come down with a big boom!”).


baby laughing at squeaky toy

I Can Hear It

This baby game also teaches the concept of object permanence by hiding a squeak toy beneath a blank or towel. Start by partially covering it with the blanket. Squeak the toy, and encourage your baby to find it. Once she gets good at that, up the ante by completely covering the toy. Again, squeeze it so it makes a noise. Cheer for her when she finds it.


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