You may own 329 toys but sometimes the best games are the ones you, dad and baby make up. Get creative—or just steal these ideas!
Be your baby’s wingman (or woman). "Ethan likes when I do ‘Flying Baby’ with him," says Thad Calabrese, a dad of three from Brooklyn, New York. "I lay on my back and count as I lift him up, then kiss him on the way down. Love the laughter—I just have to dodge the drool!"
Act it out. That kiddie tune you can’t get out of your head? Don’t fight it—join it. As you sing "The Wheels On The Bus," for instance, bicycle your baby’s legs on the changing table for "go round and round," tap his tummy when it’s time to beep the horn, and gently stretch his arms in the air when the driver says "Move on back!"
Make a splash. Hum a little bit of that Jaws theme song (dum-DUM dum-DUM dum-DUM) as you weave the washcloth through the water and say "Got your toes!" or "Got your nose!" as you squeeze out water over said body part.
Sail Away. "I was captain of the sailboat—basically, a towel that Hailey would ride on," says Allison Rabb, a mom of one in San Francisco, California "I’d hold it on both ends, gently pull it back and forth on the hardwood floor, and sing about all of the places we’d like to sail. We still do this now that she’s 2; it’s helped her learn concepts such as fast versus slow."
Go to the horse races. "I started playing this game we called ‘Ta Ta’ when my firstborn was a few months old and ultimately, all of my kids loved it," says Natalie Benamin, a mom of five from New York City. I’d sit the baby on my stomach, say ‘And he’s off!’ then bounce the baby up on down to the tune of the William Tell Overture (also known as the theme from the Lone Ranger). The kids still want do it now even though they’re bigger and it’s really funny because when I say ‘And they’re off!’ I actually toss them all off."
Be a bouncer. "My girls loved Bouncy Bouncy Baby, a jazzy ditty that involved my repeating the words ‘bouncy’ and ‘baby’ and ending in ‘WHOO!’" says Amy London, a mom of three in Ft Lauderdale, Florida. "I’d bounce them along as I sang, then drop my knees when I got to ‘WHOO.’ Worked like a charm every time."
Sing, Baby! "OK, I’ll admit it: I’m a ‘Gleek.’ I love singing and musicals; the cheesier the better," says Vanessa Butler, a mom of two in Green Bay, Wisconsin. "I like to take old songs and then replace some of the words with my kids’ names. Like, the song "Baby Face" I’ve changed to "Baby Kate" for my daughter. It goes: ‘Baby Kate, you’ve got the cutest little Baby Kate. And nobody can take your place, Baby Kate!’ OK, I’ll stop now."