When it comes to babies, games are much more than just play. Games are a natural and wonderful way to both bond with your baby and aid his or her social development. Games can teach your baby about the world, instill trust, and even create a positive outlook on life.

For babies under age 1, games are simple, fun, portable, and spontaneous. You quickly learn that you are your baby’s favorite comedian, singer, actor, and teacher. These moments bring parent and baby closer together and help build a deeper, more satisfying relationship.

Here are five great bonding games to play with your baby:

1. Singing songs and making silly noises. An all-time baby favorite. Babies love surprises, and research shows they are intensely interested in people’s faces. Make lots of expressions, use silly voices and sing songs. All of these will help teach your baby how to read emotional and social cues.

2. Explore your face. Babies love to feel different textures. The next time your baby tries to reach for your face, lean in and guide her hand to your facial features while naming each one “eyes,” “nose,” etc. Your baby may laugh at the way you can open and close your eyes or how you can wiggle your tongue.

3. Hide-and-seek. Babies are curious by nature. Every experience is a learning one, and they love a challenge. After the baby’s fifth month, object permanence begins to develop. So play with your baby with a fun toy, and then hide the toy under a blanket. See what your baby does. This is fun when your baby is crawling as they can move toward the object. When your baby finds the toy, act surprised and let him or her know how proud you are. Try not to say “Good girl!” or “Good job!” Instead, reflect the accomplishment by naming it: “Oh, you found the toy!”

4. Mirror, mirror. Babies enjoy watching themselves in the mirror, even though they do not realize it is a reflection of themselves until they are about 18 months old. So have fun with it. Put a hat or sunglasses on your baby, and try making silly faces in the mirror alongside him or her.

5. Mimicking their noises. From the beginning, babies enjoy cooing and being responded to. This teaches babies the beginning of back-and-forth communication styles. So when your baby makes a sound, repeat it, and see if he or she follows and makes another sound.


  • Games with babies under 1 year old are easy and can be done anywhere.
  • Not only are they great ways for bonding, but they also teach emotional and social development.
  • Funny faces and noises are classic games babies love to play.

Last reviewed by Sara Connolly, MD. Review Date: August 2019


  1. Sparling, J. & Lewis, I. (2004). Learning Games, The Abecedarian Curriculum 0-12 months. MindNurture
  2. Rochat, P. (1998). Self- Perception and Action in Infancy. Experimental Brain Research, 123.


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