Lap games to play with your baby

It may sound simple or obvious, but learning a few little rhymes and songs is great for both of you — and not just as a means of keeping baby contented in a waiting room or transit bus. He begins to learn about language, body awareness, rhythm and more. You get to feel close to him as you figure out what irritates, soothes and amuses him. Plus, you’ll discover that the only thing more intoxicating than having your baby snuggle on your lap is making him burst into giggles while he’s there. Here are bounces and fingerplays to try when you’re both tired of “This Little Piggy.”

Johnny Whoops!
A poem with only two words: perfect! Easy to remember when you’re hallucinating from lack of sleep.

Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny.
Whoops! Johnny.
Whoops! Johnny.
Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, Johnny.

Take your baby’s hand in yours with his palm open and fingers facing up. Starting with his little finger, tap each of his fingers one at a time with your index finger and say the word “Johnny” each time. Stop after you touch his index finger.

Slide your finger down the side of his index finger and up his thumb as you say “Whoops!” After you slide up to his thumb tip, say “Johnny.” Then, repeat going back to his pinky.

Stop and Go
This one’s short and sweet and good for helping baby learn balance. It’s from Games to Play with Babies by Jackie Silberg (Gryphon House 1993).

Sit on the floor with your baby on your lap facing you. Say this little poem as you gently bounce him up and down:

Father and Mother and Uncle John Rode to the doctor, one by one.
Father fell off,

(slide baby to one side)
Mother fell off,
(slide baby to the other side)
And Uncle John rode on and on
And on and on and on!

Kissing Booth
My preschoolers have loved this one since they were toddlers. It’s great for bonding and body awareness if you name each body part as you kiss it. For example, “I’m going to kiss your cheeks! Now I’ve got your neck! Next are your eyebrows,”…

Sit baby on your lap, lie her on her back (after bath or diaper changing, perhaps), bend over her and say, “Would you like a big kiss, Morgan? I’m going to kiss you all over!”

Then plant some on her, starting with her cheek and moving to forehead, ear, nose, …

After that, it’s time for nibble kisses: make eating sounds and tell her how delicious she tastes as you pretend to nibble at her chin, cheeks, arms, toes.

Next up: Eskimo kisses. Gently rub noses with her and feel free to nuzzle her ears, cheeks and belly too.

Then, tell her, “It’s time for butterfly kisses.” Move close to her cheek, forehead, chin or nose with one of your eyes and flutter her skin lightly a few times with your eyelashes as you blink.

Finally, say, “Now it’s time for raspberry kisses!” Put your lips on her belly and blow. Repeat after hearing that addictive belly laugh.

It’s never too early to help your baby develop her sense of humour. Try this little one from Games Babies Play: A Handbook of Games to Play with Infants by Julie Hagstrom and Joan Morrill (A & W Publishing 1979).

Hold baby on your lap or play this while she’s in her car seat. Let your fingers creep up baby’s legs while you say
“Creepie, creepie, little mousie.”

Starting up the arm, say,
“…right into your little…”

Just as you reach the back of baby’s neck, say, “housie!” Add a tickle and a hug, and repeat as long as she’s interested.