The first time I watched my newborn grandson by myself, I was really proud of myself for feeding and burping him, rocking him to sleep and changing his diaper and clothes successfully.  But after all that, he was awake and alert. What do I do with him now?  I knew play was important at all ages but what worked for a newborn?  I started with simple baby games and rhymes I used with my kids when they were little.

For the new grandmoms out there, I discovered that repetition was really important, Many games won’t work the first time you play them but if you keep doing them over and over again, your grandkid will eventually crack up as soon as soon as you start. I know these rhymes are classic but for those that don’t remember them, here are the words.

inky dinky spiderInky Dinky Spider (or Itsy Bitsy Spider, or Incy Wincy Spider)

The inky dinky spider climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out

Up came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the inky dinky spider went up the spout again.

This rhyme was done with simple hand movements of a spider crawling up the baby, lifting the baby’s arms up and down with the rain and the sun. Simple exercise but fun.

This little piggy went to market

This one now evokes peals of laughter as soon as I start.

This little piggy went to market
This little piggy went home
This little piggy had roast beef
This little piggy had none
And this little piggy went wee wee wee wee all the way home

As you say each line of the rhyme, wiggle each toe until you get to the last line and tickle the baby up his stomach. Great activity for diaper changing.  Just remember to hold on to the baby! Other great songs with movements are Wheels on the Bus, Row, Row, Row your Boat and Old MacDonald had a Farm. If you don’t remember the words, look them up on the internet.

Singing and Dancing with baby

I have a terrible voice and  two left feet but my grandson doesn’t know that.  In the afternoons when the baby got grumpy, nothing worked as well as dancing and singing with him. When he was a newborn, he preferred soft swaying and quiet songs. As he got a little older he liked me to swing him in the air or bump him up and down.  When my arms got tired, I would put him down and keep dancing. Silly exaggerated movements like clapping hands widely or shaking my butt seemed particularly funny.  I would also sing my favorite songs from the 60s and 70s. “All Together Now” by the Beatles and “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bob Marley are particular favorites. I learned to shut the blinds so the neighbors couldn’t see.

Baby games bring you and your grandchild closer together and make your time together much more fun. Besides, the more the baby laughs, the less he cries!