Baby’s First Year Milestones: How to Play with Baby

Baby’s First Year Milestones: How to Play with Baby

The Monti Kids Learning Team enjoyed a conversation with Aubrey Hargis, a child development expert and author, in which she shared her insight and action-oriented guidance on supporting your baby during the first year of their life, an essential period of growth.

Her book, Baby's First Year Milestones, offers more than 150 age-appropriate activities that are specifically designed to encourage learning at each developmental stage during your baby’s first year.

Related: you might not know to look for! Dad playing with baby

6 Games To Play With Your Baby in the First Six Months

Month One: Tummy Cuddles

Tummy time doesn’t have to be on the floor, it can also be in your baby’s favorite spot--nestled next to you!

  1. Say to your baby, “Let’s have a tummy cuddle.”
  2. In a temperate climate, remove your baby’s clothing down to the diaper, talking about your actions as you go.
  3. Find a comfortable position in a reclining chair or slightly propped up with pillows on a sofa.
  4. Remove or open your shirt enough to expose your chest.
  5. Place your calm and awake baby vertically on top of your chest so that your chin is just above her head. Your baby’s knees may be bent with feet tucked in. This is fine.
  6. Cover your baby up to the shoulders with a soft blanket.

Now relax and breathe deeply as she works those neck muscles to lift and stretch. The skin-to-skin contact helps you and your baby bond as you warm up under the cozy blanket.

Month Two: Good Morning Baby

Make greeting the new day part of your morning routine. This is a great way to connect with your little one before you leave for work.

  1. Sit down on a flat surface. Keep your legs together and bend your knees. Have your baby sit facing you on your lap, supported by your upper legs. Smile at him.
  2. Hold your baby’s hands and, if he is willing, gently lift them up toward the sky. Say, “Good morning!” Keep the stretch brief.
  3. Tell your baby the day’s itinerary, whether you’re going to be together or apart. “Today we’re going to . . .”
Baby's First Year Milestones

Month Three: My Family Book

Create a “My Family” book by taking face-only photos of family members and putting them into a premade photo album or by pasting them into a repurposed baby board book. Faces are fascinating to three-month-olds, especially when they belong to family members! Don’t forget to add your own face to the book.

  • Lie down next to your baby in a comfortable position.
  • Show your baby each family member’s face, saying the name of that person. (For example, “This is Grandma.”)
  • Add a little extra information about each person while you read. (For example, “Grandma loves you very much. She comes to our house and holds you.”)
  • Place the book in a basket or on a shelf in your baby’s play area. Read the book often, and your baby will begin to memorize facial features.

Month Four:The Little Duckling

Your baby may already be interested in exploring their toes, making it just the right time for a little “toe play” that reminds your little one of all the people who love them.

  1. Tell your baby you would like to play a game with their toes. A nice beginning to this game is a kiss on the foot.
  2. Now, holding one foot gently in your palm with one hand, use your index finger and thumb to wiggle each toe in succession while you say the rhyme that follows in a high-pitched, exaggerated tone of voice. In the last line, fill in your name or the name of someone in your baby’s life: Mommy, Daddy, Grandma.
  3. Start with the biggest toe and end with the pinkie toe.
  4. You can finish this game with another kiss or a tickle.
  5. Repeat this game with different names in the last line. “This little duckling waddled to the door. / This little duckling plopped on the floor. / This little duckling stayed in to play. / This little duckling ran away. / This little duckling said, “Quackie, quack! I’m waiting for to come back!”

Month Five: Evening Song

Routines are meaningful to your baby. Singing the same song or playing the same music each night can help cue him that it’s time to wind down for bed.

  1. Hold your baby and sway back and forth.
  2. Tell your little one that the day is ending and the sun is going around to the other side of the Earth, darkening our sky so that we can sleep.
  3. Sing this little song to your own improvised tune. “Good night, good night, good night to you / The sun goes down and we will, too / We read and we played / We danced and we swayed / And the day says good night to you.”

Month Six: The Beat is in the Feet!

Classical, hip-hop, indie, jazz, blues— music from any genre will do as long as it has a strong rhythm.

  1. Lay your baby down on their back.
  2. Hold one of your baby’s feet up in the air with one hand. With the other, lightly tap the bottom of her foot in time with the rhythm.
  3. After a minute or so, switch feet. To vary this activity, pick up both feet and tap them together.

Here are a few musical suggestions from the classical genre: Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Movement 1, by Mozart; “Ride of the Valkyries,” by Wagner; “The Washington Post,” by Sousa.

Find more ideas like these in Baby's First Year Milestones, by Aubrey Hargis.

Related: See more of our favorite books for Montessori activity ideas

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