the dreaded fifth trimester
July 28, 2012 8:16 PM   Subscribe

Looking for new ways to play with my four-month-old.

As our baby becomes less and less like a sleepy sack of potatoes and more and more of a person, I want to keep her happy and stimulated and hear her laugh as much as humanly possible. We have a routine of games we play each day, but I have an insatiable hunger for new ideas. What did your kid like to do once the fourth trimester was over?

posted by gerryblog to Human Relations (11 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
When I was watching my nephew when he was that age, I would turn on music and sing and dance with him. The more ridiculous, the better. (He loved The Beastie Boys, it was great!) Itsy Bitsy Spider is good to use your fingers to pretend the spider is crawling up their legs or whatever. Manipulate their little limbs for I'm A Little Teapot. Sit with them on your knees (or sitting on the floor) facing you and sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat and (gently, of course) hold their hands and push them back and forth like you're rowing. BIG HIT. Do jazz hands while singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
posted by Aquifer at 8:40 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

1. We did a daily walking tour of all the mirrors in the house. Complete with funny faces and "who's the cutest in the mirror?"
2. A lot of tummy time with each of us laying on our bellies facing each other and I would sing songs or show him simple toys like a rattle or a hand mirror.
3. I would hold him while bouncing on a big yoga ball and singing he loved this.
4. Reading board books to him.
5. Go swimming! Make sure its a warm pool for the most fun. We did a mommy and me water yoga class, very fun.
6. Lots of walk. My guy loved an hour or two outside every day.
7. Naked baby time. I would lay him nude on a thick towel in the livingroom where the sun had warmed the towel through the window and give him a baby massage (A diaper is ok too but we liked to air him out to prevent diaper rash).
8. Sing songs like "If your happy and you know it" or "Love my baby, yes I do" or "Zoom, zoom, zoom" and I would gently move his body parts to the song.
9. Join lots of mommy/daddy and me groups. Like yoga, stroller boot camp, baby massage etc...
10. Make silly faces/kissy faces and wait for the laughs to roll in. Works best if you do the same silly face many times in a row so that the babe can learn to anticipate the "game".

Have fun!
posted by saradarlin at 9:10 PM on July 28, 2012

Play lightening using the light switch

"Round and round the garden, goes the teddy bear. One step, two step, tickley under there!"

"This is the way the ladies ride..." You have to support your kidlet in a sitting position until baby is strong enough to hold up his/her neck and back alone.

Around the world - start with the kid in your arm, shift onto your shoulder, then to the back of your neck, other shoulder then down into your arms again. You sort of roll the kid along. You can also run the kid under your arms and over your back. As the kid gets better with motor control the game gets more complex and she will learn to roll along and help you and you can do it with her upside down and right side up by turns, and then onto your knee... You probably want to start this while sitting on a big bed, if you are not sure how to do it.

Look and explore everything. Hand the kid everything by turns that you are handling, as long as it is a safe thing to handle, and show the kid all kinds of stuff - show her inside stuff. What's in side the lamp shade? What doe sit look like from the top? From the bottom?

Dramatic dialogue: Hold deeply impassioned debates with your kid about philosophical questions. "But is reality even tested by our senses? You may think so! Yet, if memory is a prequisite to analysis of our perceptions, how can you be certain if THAT rubber nipple in your mouth in fact has the same shape or savour as the previous time? You can NOT! NO, there is no way to be certain that you did indeed experience what you think you did. You may be imagining what you believe you sense!" Just make it up as you go along with many dramatic pauses and emphasis - elocution if your hands are free, exaggerated nods, raise your voice and lower it, load it with emotion. Once your kid starts vocalising include her in the debate and argue with her, ascribing whatever meaning to her gurgle or coo that seems to keep the dialogue going.

Act out dolls for your baby. Change your babies diaper and change Teddy's diaper, using a piece of kleenex. Make Teddy interact with the baby and try to get under the covers with her when you put her to bed. Make smaller dolls or dinosaurs walk across your baby's belly, notice her watching and then run for cover and play peekaboo with her.

Do weird stuff and then register it as weird with great expressions of shock and bewilderment, such as picking up a shoe instead of the pink bottle of baby lotion and trying to get lotion out of it, and then realise your mistake theatrically and put the shoe on the floor. When the cat asks to be let out for the night start to put the baby out on the back porch instead. "No, no, the baby gets put to bed. The cat gets let out on the porch! Babies want to go to sleep in the nice warm crib. The cat wants to go out and play in the dark!"

Try anything is a percussion instrument. Can you make noise by shaking it? Clonking it on something? What noise does it make if you tap it lightly with an improvised drum stick?

Play, "Where is Mummy?" Wander around the house looking for Mummy and discussing it with the baby. "Is Mummy in her bed? No, Mummy is not in bed. Maybe Mummy is in the closet? Nope, nothing in here but coats!" End the game when you find Mummy, right where you expected to find her, curled up on the living room couch. You express great delight at finding Mummy, and Mummy expresses great delight being handed the baby.

Sing to your baby. Dance with your baby. Gentle waltzes with some spinning seems to be quite good. Take your baby in a sling onto your exercise machine, (presuming it is safe and you have one, and it isn't too jouncy) Introduce your baby to things that vibrate, like the refrigerator and the dryer.

Do not teach your baby the game where you come nose to nose, look startled and yelp in surprise. My son just loved this game, and as he was visually impaired he loved going face to face with me because he could actually see me, and he found my expression of shock delightful. He very soon learned to do the same so that when we went face to face from a couple of inches away he would look shocked and scream too. The problem came when I got a little tired of this game and he became mobile enough to instigate it himself. Having an eleven month old suddenly pop up in front of my face and scream got a trifle wearing after the seventeenth time...
posted by Jane the Brown at 10:02 PM on July 28, 2012 [7 favorites]

HA! I asked almost this exact same question when my son was almost 3 months old about a year ago.

- The answer to sorta play it by ear was actually the most helpful and took A LOT of pressure off.

Wait! That answer was not in my thread, but someone else's! Anyway, I liked that answer and followed it with great success.

- I just best answered everything in my thread you might find helpful at this age, looking back about one year.


Even judging by the answers above mine in your thread, which are lovely, my son was not into playing all the games listed above at 4 months. He was interactive, but not up to it somehow. Every infant is different! So i came up with alternatives....

- I CAN NOT nth taking your infant to museums, aquariums, the zoo, parks, play groups, etc., and letting her see and interact with culture and other children of all ages. Priceless.

The aquarium was especially amazing. When you go, if you are near these types of places, consider getting memberships. It's cheaper over the year. Our son is 15 months now, we spent a good 6 months at the aquarium once a week. We also belong to our local botanical garden, and would have spent even more time there if the aquarium was not so close by. There is no substitute for interacting with Nature.


Likewise, our local art museum (LACMA in LA) has a "Next Generation" program where one adult enters free along with the signed up child, anytime. Parking at the museum proper is expensive, but street parking is cheaper or free if you can walk. My botanical garden membership is about $60 per year, and we use the heck out of it. In LA, it is the only place my son can crawl or learn to walk on grass that dogs have not visited - if you get my drift;)

- We took our son to restaurants a lot, too. On purpose. Because as a former professional chef who is working professionally again... and I watched a respected colleague do this, and his now 12 year old daughter is just an amazing human being... My child is well-behaved in crowds and in restaurants at 15 months, AND he likes the taste of weird and spicy foods - like fishes, both Thai and Indian curries, etc.. He loves rice all ways, most vegetables, and tons of fruit. Monkey see, monkey do:)

- In about 6 months, eating will be a big big thing. It's helpful for your wee one to see you eating beautiful and weird foods, which brings me too....

- Learning to feed yourself at the age of 10 to 14 months is a GREAT game when your daughter is a few months older.

Get a Bumbo with the table attachment. Dice food up teeny tiny and let your daughter figure it out:)


- Baby massage at 4 months+ age ROCKS. Learn it from a professional. Or books or blogs!

- Keep your baby away from TV, computer monitors, and the like if you can at all help that. When she is older, use NETFLIX to watch children's programming that does not include commercials.


Every baby is different. My son had a lot of socialization, and he still did not start playing with his parents, by himself, or with others until he was about a year old.

Now he's hilarious to hang out with!

I don't think you can make missteps - babies turn into children at their own pace, you can't rush it as much as "baby experts" claim. Or so I've found.



- At the ages of 0 to 6 months, I read my son my favorite novels (The Great Gatsby) and other books. Damn the age appropriateness!

(I'm looking at you, Anthony Bourdain!)

I don't regret this.
posted by jbenben at 10:29 PM on July 28, 2012

My point was that at 4 months, I know you feel a lot of pressure.

In my experience, as long as you chit chat a lot out loud and and take your 4 month into the world quite a bit... You are doing fine.

Infants and children are REALLY good at telling you when they feel under-stimulated. Ditto when they feel over-stimulated.

Just be loving. That's the only *secret* you need to know.
posted by jbenben at 10:37 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Let me Nth Aquifer's suggestion above of the Beastie Boys.

With MCA's passing, I discovered my son LOVES the song "Body Movin' " - he can bounce to it all day!

Yeah. Music.

Don't skimp there.
posted by jbenben at 10:42 PM on July 28, 2012

When my son was around this age we started playing "What's In The Freezer?" where I would examine the different objects in the freezer, hand them to him one by one, and explain in serious painstaking detail what they were for and how they came to be in there. You can do that with any cabinet, but the freezer is particularly exotic, I think. I also suspected that distracting him with handling cold things was more effective as a technique to help him recover from minor bumps and upsets, due to the gateways theory of pain, or something.

He loved playing "Patty Cake" around this age but for whatever reason I didn't like the sound of the patty cake song, so I would just gently hold his hands and make him do different dance moves while I sang sound effects. The regular routine went something like, "Boom boom boom boom (clap clap clap clap), dah duh dah duh dah duh dah duh (arms alternately waving up and down) whoop boom, whoop boom (arms up on whoop and down on boom)."

Flying him around the house and telling him he's all different kinds of animals. Like I might hold him against my chest and hop across the room and say we're kangaroos, then pull him a little ways across the floor on his belly and go "now you're a snake" and then swoop him up to sit, with assistance of course, on the back of the sofa and then tell him he's an owl and now we're going to fly and now we're going to dive down and catch a mouse to eat.

Nothing reading grownup books aloud is great at this age. They don't give a fuck what you're saying, but they can't get enough of your voice. I read my guy Dracula, Slapstck, The Secret History, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Lolita, Foucault's Pendulum, whatever I was reading anyway. My mom says when I was a baby and she was in grad school she read me her psychology textbooks in a cheery voice every day and I just loved it.
posted by milk white peacock at 11:05 PM on July 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a four month old right now (19 weeks to be exact) and one of her favorite activities is what we call "Mush, mush" where we fold a thin blanket into fourths, lay her on it on her belly, and cup her feet in our hands. She'll push back which propels her forward (note: we have hardwood floors). She also likes to grasp our thumbs while we gently pull her to sit, and then she pushes off with her feet to stand up.
She likes playing pat-a-cake and looking at picture books. Oh she also likes to sit in her bumbo while I cook dinner, with me narrating the entire time like I'm a star on a cooking show :)
posted by kei02003 at 9:48 AM on July 29, 2012

I scream 'BEARTRAP' at the top of my lungs and then hold my infant daughter upside down by her feet. It makes her laugh so hard that I'm afraid she can't breathe. Mrs. Hero doesn't approve, though.
posted by Literaryhero at 9:04 PM on July 29, 2012

I remembered another game: "You Are a Cheeseburger." In which I would touch the different parts of his face and tell him they were parts of a cheeseburger. "Your cheeks are the buns of the burger. Your mouth is a tomato on the burger. Your hair is the cheese on the burger. Your ears are the lettuce on the burger." intense eye contact and very slow, emphatic narration were probably the real selling points of this game for my baby.
posted by milk white peacock at 9:24 PM on July 29, 2012

Roughhouse! It's never too early or too late to do that, and it gives kids a leg up in the coordination department. Inevitably there will be a minor bump or two - which also will teach Jr. that those things are okay, and not the end of the world. My dad used to throw me around all the time, wrestle, drag me back to him when I tried to crawl away, etc. I don't remember the earliest years of this, but we never really stopped. It's one of the main things I miss doing with him. It doesn't matter which parent is doing it, mind you. My mum was just too worried all the time to roughhouse with me.

Put a blanket down if you've got a carpet that tends to cause rugburns at the slightest touch though.
posted by Urban Winter at 7:54 AM on July 30, 2012

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