10 Playtime Activities for Babies & Older Siblings
Build a stronger connection between your baby and older siblings with fun games kids love to play together. From classics like peekaboo to sibling dance parties, here are our favorite activities for big kids and babies. These activities encourage brotherly and sisterly love, and create the building blocks for connections that will grow as your kiddos get bigger.
photo: Chayene Rafaela via Unsplash
This old favorite is a classic for a reason! Peekaboo is an easy, surefire way for an older sibling to put a smile on baby’s face. To add an extra twist to the game, get out a lightweight blanket that your older kid can drape over their head, and then let your little one take off the blanket. Big kids can also play peekaboo with favorite stuffies, hiding them behind their backs before the big reveal. Ta-da!
2. Making the Band
Kids of all ages love to rock out. Gather up musical instruments—xylophones, rattles, even ukuleles for the big kids—and encourage your kids to make beautiful music together. If you don’t have instruments, break out the pots and pans and wooden spoons. If your budding musicians want to make their own instruments, dig into the recycling bin: Make a drum out of an oatmeal canister or a shaker by putting beans in a toilet paper tube and taping over each end. You can find more baby Mozart-worthy DIY instrument-worthy ideas here.
3. To the Races
Encourage mobile kids to get out their wiggles and race each other across the living room. To even things out, big kids can do a crab walk or walk backwards while little ones crawl or scoot. Ready, set, go!
photo: Edward Cisneros via Unsplash
4. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Babies adore seeing faces—especially when they belong to beloved older siblings. Big kids can pretend to be mirrors and mimic the expressions on their little siblings’ faces, or make an exaggerated face and see if their baby sibling can do the same. When playing a mirror game, siblings make eye contact that strengthens their bond.
The imitation game can also be played with sounds: Have the older sibling mimic the coos and noises their little sibling makes. For a twist, your big kid can even extend those oohs and aahs into words. This back-and-forth is how babies learn to talk and take turns in conversations so, by playing this game, your older sibling is creating the building blocks for your baby’s future babbling!
6. Patty Cake
Rhymes, hand-clapping games and finger-play classics are always a sibling playtime hit. Your older child can teach their sibling new tricks with patty cake, or throw other preschool favorites, like the Itsy Bitsy Spider or Five Little Monkeys, in the mix.
7. Story Time
Long before kids can read, they memorize their favorite picture books. Older siblings feel oh-so-grown-up when they “read” these books to baby siblings. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t know all the words yet; just reciting the beginning, middle,and end of the story will entertain their younger sibling. To make the story time a little extra special, add puppets, like these from the Etsy shop It’s The Small Things ($9; shown above).
8. Made You Laugh
Is there anything better than baby giggles? Challenge big brothers and sisters to make the baby laugh without touching them. They can try funny faces, silly dances, pretending to be an elephant, putting their shoes on their head…. Anything goes!
photo: Jens Johnsson via Unsplash
9. Keep It Rolling
Rolling a ball back and forth is an easy introduction to taking turns, and kids can play this game together almost as soon as little ones are sitting up on their own. Easy-to-grab balls like these from Oball ($17) help baby play the game. Big and little siblings can also roll cars or trains back and forth. Pro tip: Rolling two similar toys back and forth at once makes taking turns a little easier because each kiddo will have a toy to hold onto at all times.
10. Dance Party
Put on your favorite tunes, pull out some gauzy scarves, and get a dance party started. To make it extra special, just add bubbles. Give your baby a rattle if they aren’t quite big enough for a full-body boogie. We guarantee it’ll give you a few minutes of peace—and you might be inspired to join in the fun.