25 Brain-Boosting Baby Games and Activities

Black-and-white toys and books, like this Thremhoo foldout book, are the perfect first tummy-time playthings.
Black-and-white toys and books, like this Thremhoo foldout book, are the perfect first tummy-time playthings.
5/28/24 - By Vanessa Leigh

While you probably know that playing with your baby is an important way to boost their brain development, it's important to note that not all baby games are created equal. Certain activities, toys, books, and baby games do a better job than others of stimulating tiny brains, getting babies' creative juices flowing, and developing both fine and gross motor skills.

Here are 25 baby games that will keep little ones engaged and learning during tummy time, while sitting in their high chairs, or whenever you want to have some fun and give their growing brains a boost. See our Baby and Maternity Guide for all other things baby-related, from the best baby registry services to the best first birthday gifts.


Brain-Boosting Baby Games: Stacking Blocks
Babies will love stacking up—and knocking down—these Litand building blocks.

Best Baby Games for Floor and Tummy Time

1. Stacking Blocks

Introduce your baby to the excitement of building a block tower and knocking It down. We recommend starting with these soft stacking blocks to avoid injury.

2. Black-and-White Toys

High-contrast black-and-white toys and books, like this awesome foldout book complete with a mirror, are the perfect first tummy-time playthings for babies. While they're working to strengthen their necks and muscles, babies are also developing their vision and taking in patterns and shapes.

3. Peek-a-Boo

Peek-a-boo is one of those classic baby games that never gets old. Hide behind your hands, a towel, or even a stuffed animal, then pop out and say, "Boo!" This is sure to get your little one laughing.

4. Musical Instruments

Babies love music! Whether you use a baby musical instrument set—like this wooden LOOIKOOS set—or simply a pot and spoon, making music together will stimulate your baby's brain and help you bond with your little one.

5. Sensory Baggies

Fill a zip-top plastic baggie with water or whipped cream. You can also throw in some pom-poms to add color and whimsy. Squeeze out the air bubbles and make sure it's sealed tight. Place it in front of your baby to explore, and watch their little mind be blown!

6. Balls and Toy Trucks

Until they can do it on their own, show your baby how to roll a ball or toy truck from left to right and back and forth. Your baby will start being able to focus on the object, which in turn will support neck muscle development. Green Toys vehicles, such as this dump truck, are our favorites because they're colorful, chunky, and free of BPA, PVC, and phthalates.

RELATED: 100 Classic Toys for Kids

Brain-Boosting Baby Games: Puppet Shows
Make your baby giggle with a silly puppet show featuring Melissa & Dog Safari Buddies.=

Best Baby Games to Keep Babies Happy in High Chairs

7. Puppet Shows

Whether you use hand puppets, like these Melissa & Doug Safari Buddies, or finger puppets, the baby games are endless when playing with puppets. You can read a story, act out a show, or have the puppets sing nursery rhymes to your little one.

8. Suction Toys

Suction toys are for more than just bath time. You can also stick them on high chair trays to keep baby busy before and after feedings.

9. Edible Finger Paint

Your baby can explore colors and textures with finger paint. Try this recipe for homemade edible finger paint, then learn our secret to no-mess finger painting.

10. Tissue Paper Tearing

Babies love ripping things apart and exploring textures. A simple baby game is to give them a piece of tissue paper and let them go nuts. Always supervise the small pieces to make sure your little one isn't eating the paper.

11. Wooden Utensils

While you're whipping up a meal, give your baby a wooden spoon or two to bang together or on the high chair. It's their first step to becoming a future chef!

12. Water Activity Bottles

Fill a clear plastic bottle 3/4 of the way with water and food coloring. Add colorful objects like glitter and beads. Screw the cap on tightly and hand the bottle to your baby. As they shake the bottle, they'll be mesmerized by the different colors, sounds, and movements.

13. Whipped Cream Art

Whipped cream can serve as a terrific art material for babies. Squeeze a bit onto the high chair tray and allow your baby to make some abstract art with their little hands.

Best Baby Books to Read

14. Board Books

Board books are perfect for babies because they can be gnawed on, played with, and flipped through. Our list of the 25 best board books for babies includes classics like The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, lift-the-flap books like Where's Spot? by Eric Hill, and more.

RELATED: 100 Kids' Books Every Child Should Read Before They Grow Up

Brain-Boosting Baby Books: Melissa & Doug Poke-a-Dot Books
Babies will love to press the dots on the Melissa & Dog Poke-a-Dot books.

15. Melissa & Doug Poke-a-Dot Books

These interactive board books deserve their own call-out because they really stimulate babies' brains with their poke-able dots. The dots are fun to press and encourage counting and fine motor skills.

16. Finger-Puppet Books

If your baby liked the high chair puppetry, then try finger-puppet books like Daddy and Me and Mommy and Me.

17. Crinkle Books

Books you can read that also make crunchy noises? Sounds like the perfect combination of fun and learning for babies! We like the WESOTE Baby Cloth Crinkle Books, which feature adorable jungle and marine animal tails.

Other Baby Games and Activities to Keep Babies Engaged

18. Sing Nursery Rhymes

Whether you're American Idol-worthy or you can't carry a tune, your baby loves hearing your voice—and will soon be babbling along. So belt out The Wheels on the Bus, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and some other favorites from our list of the 100 best sing-along songs for kids.

19. Have a Dance Party

Put on your favorite tunes and dance with your baby. You can hold your little one in your arms or a baby carrier while twirling around, have them bop their heads and wave their arms while sitting in their high chair or on a play mat, or do any other fun movement they're capable of.

20. Explore a Treasure Box

One baby's old toys are... that same baby's treasures! Fill a basket or empty bin with toys and fun baby items (perhaps some that haven't been played with in a while) and let your little one explore each "new" treasure.

21. Have a Picnic

Whether it's at a park or in your backyard, a picnic is always a good activity for a baby. They can take in the sights, smells, and sounds of nature while using their senses of taste and touch to enjoy yummy foods.

RELATED: Developmental Milestones for Babies in the First Year

Brain-Boosting Baby Games: Boon Cogs Water Gears
Boon Cogs Water Gears are perfect for bath time.

22. Bath Time Fun

Sure, taking a bath is a means of getting clean. But for babies, bath time can also be a feast for the senses as they experience the feel of the water, the sound of the splashing, etc. Our list of the best bath toys for babies and toddlers will really make bath time lots of fun.

23. Use a Bubble Wand or Bubble Machine

Babies and toddlers are mesmerized by bubbles. Bubble wands are great for making slower and bigger bubbles, but you have to focus on blowing and the wind can carry bubbles away. For less mess and more bubbles, try a bubble machine or bubble gun. Our list of the best bubble guns and bubble machines can help you choose one.

24. Play in a Cardboard Box

Save that diaper box or Amazon box and let your baby start their creative journey of box play. As baby gets older, you can try some of our 50 genius things to with cardboard boxes.

25. Bounce Balloons

Blow up a balloon or two and watch the wonder unfold as your baby tries to figure out what this new bouncy toy is. Show them how to bounce the balloon and toss it high up in the air.

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