Play Baby Play: Ball Games


Apparently, I like a bit of a challenge, so when I recently came across a box set of fifty baby play ideas, I thought I would try to work through the whole box by Little Birdie’s (LB) first birthday. The first card I selected was “ball games”. The card said I should roll the ball to the baby, stand baby up and use her legs to “kick” the ball and line up paper cups, cardboard boxes or egg cartons to use as skittles.

To be truthful, the challenge is just as much for me as it is for LB. I want to keep putting in my best effort for her and this helps me to stay creative and enthusiastic, even when I’m feeling tired and a little stuck in a rut. I made sure I was prepared for the challenge by asking my husband to purchase a packet of disposable cups with the weekly groceries.  The cups he brought home were clear plastic, making me a little concerned about how LB would react to them. Would they seem like a target, even though they were clear? However, I pressed on regardless. I had visions of a giggling baby as we played our little game and my heart warmed at the thought of it.

I found a little mini soccer ball that we got with some sunscreen that we purchased recently at the beach and I set the cups up in a line. I sat LB a short distance away and rolled the ball to the cups. It was underwhelming. The ball just pushed the cup a little to the side. LB wasn’t even looking at the ball! I thought maybe we had progressed a bit too quickly, so I spent a few moments rolling the ball to her instead. She still really didn’t get it, preferring to suck on the ball, rather than having a go at rolling it back. I then decided to stand her up and swing her gently to “kick” the ball. Again, she wasn’t really interested. I decided it was time to give up.

When my husband came home, I told him about our little game and invited him to have a go with LB as well. That turned out to be the best idea I’d had all day. Ball games just come naturally to men. He arranged the cups in a diamond shape, like you would for 10 pin bowls and helped LB move her little leg to kick the ball. Finally, I heard the giggles I’d been waiting for.

We played with the game a few more times across the week. However, it turns out LB’s favourite occupation is sucking on the cups. Do I think it was a waste of time? Absolutely not. Both LB’s father and I had fun playing the game with her and she is starting to learn about balls rolling. Now it’s on to the next challenge.

The first card I drew was “Tickle Time”, which involved tickling your baby and playing “This Little Piggy”. We already do this quite regularly, so I’m drawing again. The next card I chose was to create a “Photo Gallery” for bubby. Sounds like a lot of work but I’m committed. LB doesn’t really look at the pictures yet when I read to her, so I wonder how she’ll respond to photos? I do show her the pictures I take of her on my phone and she smiles and she also likes looking at her reflection in the mirror. I have no idea if she knows she is looking at herself. This should make for an interesting challenge!

Play, baby, play!

When life gives you lemons … play dodge ball with the lemons!

It turns out motherhood is a lot harder and more stressful than I could have imagined, so I’ve set myself a little challenge to lighten things up a bit. I recently came across a box set of fifty baby play ideas, so I thought I would try to work through the whole box by LB’s first birthday.

It was a strange feeling after I first brought LB home. I was barely surviving when it occurred to me that she was a little person and maybe I should play with her! Then, I realized, I had no idea how to play with my newborn. I ended up googling and found a video a couple had made which showed them playing with their baby boy. It was a long time since I was a child and I had forgotten everything – even the simplest nursery rhymes. Since then, I’ve made it my mission to learn as much as possible to keep LB amused and I’ve come a long way in seven months. On a recent long car trip, LB was less than impressed when the traffic slowed to a crawl due to road works on a major highway. I managed to continuously sing nursery rhymes for an hour without repeating a single rhyme to keep her amused (why is mummy’s voice acceptable, but a CD of nursery rhymes ineffective?).

There is an unfortunate subtext to my quest for games to play with LB. Poor little LB has trouble sleeping. She is a dreadful cat napper and for the first six months of her life, would only sleep during the day if she were on my shoulder or at the breast. We’ve recently been to sleep school, so things have improved with night sleep, but the flipside to a baby who never sleeps is that you have a lot of time to fill in a day with a very cranky little person. I will do anything to avoid the large tracts of crying that LB is capable of, so the mummy circus is in full swing. We have some pretty involved play sessions at times.

So, I am continuously casting about for ideas for playing with LB. I’ve found some good websites, visited our local library, swapped ideas at mother’s group and watched a few episodes of Playschool. Recently, I came across a little box of flash cards that offers fifty things to do with your baby. It contains ideas for simple games, songs, action rhymes and other fun things to do with your baby. It includes ideas for ball games, sand play and posting things, and using the picture cards as prompts for making animal noises. The suggestions are inexpensive and I hope LB will learn some new skills, find out about the world and, most importantly, have fun.


Now, my mission is to choose the first card. I have selected “ball games”. The card says I should roll the ball to the baby (I’ve done that before), stand baby up and use her legs to “kick” the ball (we’ve done that too… mummy enjoyed the lounge room soccer match, LB was a bit bemused) but the third suggestion is a new one – it suggests lining up paper cups, cardboard boxes or egg cartons to use as skittles. We will see how we go!