Play for babies

Play is very important for your baby because they learn through play. As your baby’s best mate, you can help them learn by playing some of these games, activities, songs and rhymes with them right from the time that they are born.


  • Rock your baby in rhythm.
  • Share simple songs and rhymes.
  • Repeat their favourite songs.
  • Use actions with rhymes and songs such as ‘Incey Wincey Spider’, ‘A E I O U’ or ‘Humpty Dumpty’.
  • Play ‘peek-a-boo’ or ‘kei hea koe?’
  • Make a treasure basket
  • Talk about anything that is happening – what people are doing and saying, who the people are, what is going to happen next, what you are doing with your baby.


Peek-a-boo/Kei hea koe?

This game is great when your baby is lying down, or in their car seat. It is a sitting still version of hide-and-seek that you can play anytime.

Position yourself so that your baby can see your face easily. Use your hands or a cloth to cover your face briefly before revealing your smiling face and saying ‘Peek-a-boo!’ or ‘Kei hea koe?’

Your baby learns:

  • to communicate – through wriggling, kicking, smiling, making noises and grabbing things
  • that even when they can’t see your face, you are still there and happy to play – this builds a sense of trust and strengthens your relationship with your baby
  • that their reactions make a difference – that’s the beginning of conversations.

Song time – Waiata mai!

Singing to your baby is a great way to help them start learning about communication. Make a habit of singing to your baby as you do things together. It’s good to repeat their favourite songs. When your baby responds with sound and movement, they are discovering different ways of being creative and expressing themselves. Be sure to show your delight when this happens.

Think about some favourite songs you can sing to your baby. Pick some simple songs you remember from your own childhood, or get ideas from your local library or children’s music group. Pick at least one song that you can do actions to, even if you have to make them up. For example, Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall … (mime falling).

Your baby learns to:

  • respond to familiar words and sounds
  • imitate you
  • express themselves.


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