Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Playing simple games like peek-a-boo with your baby during their first year is fun, and is important for their development.

To help you and baby get the most out of playtime, make sure that you recognise signs your little one is sending that indicate when it's time to play. These signals might include:

  • Watching you or other people with interest
  • Reaching out for you
  • Smiling

It's also important to recognise when your infant has had enough of baby games and needs a break. These signs might include:

  • Crying
  • Regurgitating
  • Looking away

To help your baby have fun, bond with you and learn about the world, try playing the following 10 development games. You may also want to make up your own variations or combine games when you sense baby is ready for an additional challenge.


One of the best baby games to play with infants is also one of the easiest. Simply hide your face behind your hands and then move your hands away while you say, "Peek-A-Boo"!

Until babies are about nine months old, they don't realise that you're still there when your face is covered. So your child will be fascinated by your disappearing and reappearing act. This baby game may even help your child become more comfortable in the world when he or she realises that you'll come back even when you "go away".

After your child begins to understand the game more, they may try to "find" you by reaching for your hands when you hide. Try playing this development boosting game to make tasks like changing nappies and getting dressed more fun for you and baby.

Mummy see, mummy do

Just as you can read baby's signals to know when to play baby games, you can take your lead on how to play from your little bundle of joy.

For example, if your baby is vocalising with "coos" and "ga-gas", try imitating your baby's sounds. That will help your baby develop a foundation for conversation skills. Similarly, when baby smiles, smile back. This will help your baby develop self-confidence as he or she realises that you're having fun and enjoying their company.

Dance around

All babies need plenty of cuddling time to help them feel secure and build emotional attachments to the important people in their lives.

Try dancing around with baby to foster bonding and respond to your baby's needs. If he or she's in a playful mood, do a gentle, silly jig together to get them laughing. If your baby is tired or upset, they might prefer a slow dance around the room to help to soothe them.


"Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man, bake me a cake as fast as you can. Pat it and roll it and mark it with 'B'. And put it in the oven for baby and me". This clapping game may seem silly, but it's a great way to help your baby develop a number of important skills.

First, the rhythm and repetitiveness of the tune will help your baby develop language skills. Additionally, the feel of your touch as you gently clap your hands against his or hers in time to the rhyme will help stimulate sense of touch. As baby gets older, they'll probably try to imitate the movements you're making with your hands, which will help develop their gross motor skills and hand- eye co-ordination.

First-year baby games

From peek-a-boo to pat-a-cake! The top games to help your baby learn.
read article