9 Retro Games To Boost Your Child’s Development (No Batteries Required)

Like any good parent, you want to boost your child’s development. But what are helpful games to play with your tot? Do ones like “This little piggy…” do any good? Is there yet more stuff you should be buying? Where’s your playtime fairy godmother to guide you? Actually, she’s right here. “Parents these days feel a lot of pressure to purchase the most educational, high-tech toys for their babies, and there are so many to choose from that it can be overwhelming,” says Anne Zachry, PhD, OTR, a pediatric occupational therapist and author of Retro Baby, a new book published by the American Academy of Pediatrics with more than 100 time-tested activities. “The fact is that your hands, arms, lap and a smile are all you need for games that help strengthen babies’ muscles, encourage balance, teach language and promote bonding.” Check out nine old-fashioned activities, plucked from the book, that will benefit your baby and are fun, too—for both of you.

  • Wheels On The Bus: To get your baby set to crawl 1 of 9
    playing-wheels-on-bus-photo

    For kids over four months old, try playing this on one of those big rubber exercise balls. It can help strengthen core muscles, key for sitting and crawling. With your baby in front of you, place him over the ball stomach down, holding him at his hips. Roll the ball slowly back and forth several times. Watch closely to be sure your little one is enjoying the rocking system, and keep both hands on him the entire time. As you rock, sing: 

    The wheels on the bus go round and round

    Round and round, round and round

    The wheels on the bus go round and round

    All through the town

     

    Image source: istock

  • Point And Name Game: Teaches language 2 of 9
    Infant with toy

    Just point to different objects or various body parts and name them, using complete sentences. For instance, "This is a red rattle!" Encourage your infant to point or touch what you are naming. This will help her understand there is a connection between the words and objects or body parts. Use different tones of voice; for example, softly tell her, "Listen, Mommy is whispering." Chatter away while spending time with her, telling your little one details about your day such as what you did, where you went or whom you saw. 

     

    Image source: istock 

  • Patty-cake: To improve head control and bond 3 of 9
    pat-a-cake-photo

    Played with infants, this encourages head control; with older children, it's great mommy-and-me time. For babies, lie on your back and slide your feet toward your hips so that your calves are near the backs of your thighs. You may need a pillow under your head for support. Sit your baby on your tummy facing you so that her back rests against your thighs. Hold her hands and gently clap them together as you chant:

    Patty-cake, patty-cake, baker's man [Take baby's hands through the motions]

    Bake me a cake as fast as you can

    Roll it [Roll her hands around each other]

    And pat it [Clap]

    And mark it with a B [Guide her finger to write a "B" in the air]

    And put it in the oven for baby and me! [Big kiss finale!]

     

    Image source: istock

  • Shop Till You Drop: Encourages coordination 4 of 9
    shop-till-drop-game

    Simply scatter some toys around the floor, then have your child push a toy shopping cart around and bend down to pick them up. The cart gives your child extra support for her arms, so she doesn't have to rely fully on leg strength. 

     

    Image source: Retro Baby; photographer Laura Zumwalt

  • This Little Piggy: Teaches body awareness (hel-lo, fingers)! 5 of 9
    playing-this-little-piggy-photo

    Start with your infant on his back, making sure to hold his feet so he can see his toes. Begin by holding and wiggling the big toe on one foot and recite the poem in an energetic, sing-song way:

    This little piggy went to market (big toe)

    This little piggy stayed home (second toe)

    This little piggy had roast beef (third toe) [vegetarians: sub in tofu!]

    This little piggy had none (fourth toe)

    And this little piggy went wee wee wee wee all the way home (little toe)

     

    Image source: iStock

  • Can’t Smile Without You: To develop core muscles and focus 6 of 9
    can't-smile-without-you-game

    While baby is positioned tummy-down on the floor, with a rolled towel or blanket beneath her, you or an older sibling lie down facing her. If she doesn't yet have good head control, provide assistance by gently lifting her chin so she can see your face. Your baby prefers a human face—especially yours—to other images! Attempt to get her to smile by sticking out your tongue, smiling at her and making other funny faces. 

     

    Image source: Retro Baby; photographer Laura Zumwalt

  • Fly Me To The Moon: Helps build strength and flexibility 7 of 9
    playing-fly-me-to-the-moon

    With your infant facing you, place hands around his rib cage. Slowly lift him up and over your head then back down while saying, "Fly me to the moon!" Alternate lifting him up and down and moving side to side. You can do this seated or standing. If she seems fearful, move even more slowly and talk to him in a calm, soothing voice as you lift him. 

     

    Image source: iStock

  • Mustang Sally: Promotes balance 8 of 9
    horsey-song

    Sit on the floor with your knees bent. Position your infant facing away from you and seated upright on your knees, holding him firmly under the arms or at the hips. Talk to your little one to reassure him that he's safe, telling him you're going to play the horsey game. Slowly move your legs side to side to provide movement. Hum a tune and sing the lyrics; when you say "don't fall down," slide your feet forward. He should love this! 

    Ride a little horsey

    Down to town

    Ooops, little horsey

    Don't fall down!

     

    Image source: Retro Baby; photographer Laura Zumwalt 

  • Ticket To Ride: More bonding time! 9 of 9
    ticket-to-ride-game

    Once a baby is able to hold her head up for a brief period, hold her on your lap facing you while you provide plenty of support to her upper body. Slowly raise her up, then back down, then gently raise her back up again. You don't want her to drop her head back, so give her head support if needed. Lean in close to her face and sing or make faces to keep her engaged. She'll enjoy the movement—as well as the interaction. 

     

    Image source: Retro Baby; photographer Laura Zumwalt

Tagged as: , , , ,

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Learn More.