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10 Baby Christmas Games Approved by Buddy the Elf

Please tell me you’ve seen the movie Elf. (If you haven’t, for the love of all that’s wrapped and shiny, watch it on Amazon right now.)

I’m not going to waste time sharing the details and plot (since you’re going to watch it anyway…), I just want to share the single word that comes to mind whenever I watch it.

JOY

Pure, innocent, infectious joy.

The kind of joy I see on my kids’ faces as we do our family holiday traditions.

It’s pretty easy to create those moments with older kids who can laugh, joke, and play with you. But what in the holly do you do with a 3-month-old? Or a 6-month-old? Or even a 12-month-old who is whigged out on candy canes?

Sure you could break out “Ye Olde Standards” like…

  1. Peek-a-Boo
  2. Got Your Nose
  3. Itsy Bitsy Spider
  4. Patty Cake

Fifth time around, though, you’re going find yourself looking around for an understudy.

*clearing throat*

“DAD!”

Let me do you (and Dad) a favor and offer up a few more games, you know, just to keep it interesting.

If it looks like your baby isn’t “getting” the game, don’t be discouraged.  Babies have very short attention spans, so you may have to do the game several times a day (or week) for him to start to understand the game.

 Baby Christmas Games
0-3 Month Olds

According to The Milestone Marker one of the major developmental goals for these months will be eye-hand coordination.  You know what can really help with eye-hand coordination? These two holiday games.

Don’t forget encouraging smiles and gentle words!  It will give your infant warm tingly-feelings as he bathes in the glow of your attention and praise.  #tenpointsforparents

Baby Christmas Game #1: Holiday Ribbons

Extremely young babies will often appear to be cross-eyed in the first few weeks of life because their eye muscles need to be regularly exercised to learn how to work together in tandem.

The Holiday Ribbons baby Christmas game is great to help him practice his eye movements!

You’ll Need:

  1. A blanket (for him to lay on)
  2. A long holiday ribbon

How to Play:

  1. Lay your infant on a blanket on the floor and hold the ribbon above his head.
  2. Let him focus on the ribbon for second, and then slowly move it left and right, letting him track the movements with both eyes.

Don’t go too fast. If he loses sight of the ribbon, he’ll assume it doesn’t exist and lose interest.  (This is called “object permanence” and doesn’t develop for a few more months.)

The closer your baby is to the 12-week mark, the more likely he’ll start reaching for the ribbons. If he does, give him a miniature high-five and then let him touch the ribbon as a reward.  He will enjoy the slippery texture!

Baby Christmas Game #2:  Jingle Bells

If you’re a Martha-Stewart-Type mom, grab a pair of mismatched baby socks (because who doesn’t have a few of those lying around…) and very securely sew on some jingle bells on the toes.

If you’re a Barely-Making-It-Mom (like myself), grab a pair of Foot Finders.  (The black and white patterns are very stimulating to newborns.)

You’ll Need: 

  1. A blanket
  2. One of the above rattles: either DIY or via an awesome short cut.

How to Play:

  1. Lay your infant on a blanket on the floor and put on those little booties.
  2. Gently move her legs around, up and down, so she can hear the little rattles.

Hearing the noises will encourage her to kick her legs and make the sounds all by herself.  (In other words, it’s great to teach cause and effect…that if I move my legs, I hear a sound!)

If your newborn seems a little clueless on this activity, don’t give up.  A few weeks of repetition and she’ll start to “get it”!


Baby Christmas Games
for 3-6 Month Olds

The three-to-six month time period is HUGE in terms of development. Those teeny little brains are going through a major metamorphosis, as your child starts to become more alert and playful. In particular, watch for the newborn caterpillar to disappear and the baby butterfly to soar at around 5 months old.

Here are two great baby Christmas games to play at this age.  (Want more? 24 Magical Baby Games offers several other camera-worthy developmental activities.

Baby Christmas Game #3:  Sleigh Ride

Take your baby on a sleigh ride around the house! Not only will he find the movements interesting, it’s also a great way to whet his appetite for moving.

You’ll Need: 

  1. A small box your baby will fit in but can see over the sides
  2. Plenty of pillows for padding so he can sit up supported (or a Bumbo)
  3. A scarf or rope 3-4 feet long

How to Play:

  1. Place the Bumbo or pillows inside the box so your baby is sitting up (or semi-sitting up)
  2. Poke a hole in the front of the box and weave through a scarf or a rope.
  3. Gently pull your baby around the house.

Not only will your tiny tyke enjoy the view, it gives him a great opportunity to track objects with his eyes as they pass.

Baby Christmas Game #4:  Ornament Grab

Somewhere around 20 weeks, your baby will start reaching for items. This is really significant! It shows that he’s beginning to understand that he has the ability to move those chubby little appendages all by himself.

In this game, you will encourage this desire to touch – sending that brain signal “I want this” straight to his hand to streeeeeetch out and grab.

You’ll Need: 

  1. A blanket
  2. A shiny colored plastic Christmas tree ornament (PLASTIC!!)

How to Play:

  1. Lay your baby onto a blanket placed on the ground.
  2. Dangle the ornament about 6 inches in front of his face and swing it gently from side to side
  3. Alternative Version: Put your baby on his tummy and let him stretch his little fingers out to grab the ornament.

It’s always exciting to see the gears whirring behind his eyes as he recognizes what he wants (that shiny thing) and figures out how to get it (move that arm!).


Baby Christmas Games
for 6-9 Month Olds

I love this age. Within just a few short weeks your baby could go from “barely sitting” to “army crawling”.  (Depends on how motivated he is.)

He’s finally moving those big muscle groups! He’s also going to continue to refine his fine motor skills as he learns how to pass items back and forth from hand to hand. 

Encourage his brain to make those gross (arms and legs) and fine (fingertips) motor skills with these activities over the holidays.

Baby Christmas Game #5:  Turning Pages

I know this may seem like a knock-off, but really it’s an important way to boost those baby brain cells.

Besides being awesome in language development, letting your baby hold and practice turning the pages is an excellent way to improve his pincer grasp (finger and thumb), a vital skill in learning to write or (better still) putting that binky back on his own.  

All you need for this activity is a comfortable rocking chair and a few festive board books. Here are a few of my favorites for this age.

  1.  The Grinch’s Great Big Fat Flap Book
  2. The Mitten
  3. Christmas in the Manger
  4. Who is Coming to Our House?
  5. The Elf Boogie

Baby Christmas Game #6: What’s Inside?

Did you know that ripping paper is actually a fantabulous way to build your baby’s dexterity? Having to pinch and pull the paper to tear it is a great learning activity for his tiny brain.

Not only does it help her with her pincer grasp and fine motor skills, this is the perfect time in her development to learn the concept of object permanence.

What exactly is object permanence?  Well, *slipping on library glasses, putting hair in a bun* basically it’s the understanding that something exists, even if you can’t see it.

Up until this point, your baby has lived under the assumption that “No-See, No-Exist.” Games like this one really help him understand the concept of an object existing, even when he can’t immediately see it.

You’ll Need: 

  1. A few favorite baby toys
  2. Leftover scraps of wrapping paper
  3. Tape

How to Play:

  1. Very loosely wrap some of your baby’s favorite toys.  (It should be an incredibly crappy wrapping job – pieces of the toy sticking out, pockets and gaps galore. )
  2. Let him practice unwrapping and ripping the paper.


Baby Christmas Games
for 9-12 Month Olds

 

Perhaps you haven’t noticed yet, but one of the hallmark “signs” that you have a 9-12 month old in your house is the fact that your kitchen is strewn with empty tupperware containers.

One of the greatest joys your child will have at this age is taking things in and out of other things. Bookshelves. Baskets. Cabinets. The dog bowl.  All are begging to be emptied, and your daughter is just the woman to help them out.

Here are two baby Christmas games that can help her practice that beloved activity without adding extra Christmas chaos.

Baby Christmas Game #7: Surprise Box

This is the ideal activity for a child who leaves destruction where ever she goes. Time to control a bit more of that Christmas chaos with a surprise box!

You’ll Need: 

  1. Two small boxes (like a shoebox or empty wipes container)
  2. Interesting Christmas objects like plastic ornaments (shapes), stuffed holiday toys (color), tinsel (texture), bells (sound) evergreen bows (smell) and other fun objects.

How to Play:

  1. As she takes items out of the box, say “Out” and when she puts them back inside, say “In”.
  2. You can also encourage further word recognition by saying “Open” and “Closed”.

You can even take this game further by helping her begin to understand the concept of object names and see if she can start to sound out sounds by saying ba-ba-ba-ba (for ball) and other syllables. As she gets better, start asking her for specific items like “Rudolph” or the “Red Ornament” and see what happens!

I’m sure you already know this, because you’re awesome, but it bears repeating:  Your explorer is going to try to put these items in her mouth. Make sure they are larger than her palm, and don’t let her play this game (with tinsel or evergreen bows) without supervision!

 

Baby Christmas Game #8: Tube Talk

The best way to help your baby start babbling is to babble right back!

You’ll Need:

  1. An empty wrapping paper roll
  2. Scissors

How to Play:

  1. Cut the roll in half.
  2. Take one tube, place it near your mouth and talk through it.
  3. Give him the other tube and encourage him to make noises through it.

Start with the usual funny baby sounds, eventually trying animal noises, singing songs, or just blowing raspberries. He’ll laugh at all of it!

Naturally he’s going to slobber all over the end, which is going to make it soggy. Take care that he doesn’t gum or chew on any cardboard! Cardboard is not good eats.


Baby Christmas Games
for 12-24 Month Olds

The more active you can help your baby play at this age, the higher your likelihood of helping him score some awesome naps. Time to get those arms and legs pumping!

Baby Christmas Game #9: Holiday Obstacle Course

One of the hardest skills your baby/toddler will be learning at this age is balance. Creating a holiday obstacle course in the living room provides him with the perfect opportunity to practice!

You’ll Need:

  1. Christmas pillows
  2. Holiday stuffed animals
  3. Plastic ornaments and ribbons
  4. Items to build an indoor fort or mountain (perhaps this play tent as the final destination?)

How to Play:

  1. On a flat surface, arrange all the items above in the living room.
  2. Place one particularly tempting-toy at the other end of the room (or Dad or a cheering grandparent)
  3. Hold your infant’s fingers (if needed) to help him walk through the living room, around and over obstacles as they present themselves.

The more elaborate you build the obstacles, the more fun this game becomes.  Eventually everyone can meet for Christmas cookies and milk in the “tunnel” of the pillow-blanket mountain.  🙂

Baby Christmas Game #10: Bows & Toes

This is a very simple game that you can play while you’re stuck on the airplane on the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s house over the holidays.

You’ll Need: 

  1. New (or used) wrapping bows
  2. If you don’t want to use bows, a backwards looped piece of scotch tape (so sticky part is facing up) works also!

How to Play:

  1. Take a bow and stick it on her toes or hand.  Let her practice taking it off.
  2. Take a bow and stick it on Daddy’s nose, forehead, chin, knee…

This was always a favorite game for my babies.  They thought it was so fun to take the bow off and stick it back on Daddy (kinda like “pin the tail on the Donkey”).

Besides being a guaranteed-giggler, it’s also epic-ly awesome for those fine motor skills, since using her thumbs and fingers together is a requirement for learning to write!

The Best Way to Spread Christmas Cheer…

“…is singing loud for all to hear.” 

Your baby isn’t going to be singing many Christmas carols this year, but she does have a special power that lights up every soul that hears it.

Her laughter.

Those gut-giggles of mirth. 

And these baby Christmas games are perfect way to get them.

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