Lights on. Lights off. Door open. Door shut. Cause and effect? Yep, and babies get that. Check out our super fun mini-experiments for babies and toddlers. Your little one will love them.
1. Name of the game: The Indoor Light Show
How to play: Carry your baby or toddler from room to room, pausing when you reach a light switch. Show your little one how the lights go on when you flip the switch one way and off when you flip it in the opposite direction. Play tour guide and visit all desk and table lamps, too. Narrate your journey.
What baby learns: A little science (cause and effect), and a little vocabulary—words such as on, off, light, dark, and other descriptors. Between 18 and 24 months, your little guy may want to flip lights on and off without your help—just because he can make something happen.
2. Name of the game: The Shoebox Challenge
How to play: Select one baby-size box—a shoebox, for example—and two smaller boxes that fit inside it (jewelry boxes are perfect). Open and shut the largest box, repeating the words open and close. Now let your baby do it. Loosen the box top to make it easier. Place a ball, toy car, or other safe object inside one of the smaller boxes to surprise her.
What baby learns: Cause and effect, vocabulary, and fine motor skills.
3. Name of the game: The Empty Cup Olympics
How to play: Set out six small lightweight cups on the floor or high-chair tabletop. Build a tower. Gently topple the cups. Act surprised, and say, Oh look, I pushed them over! Set the cups up again, and encourage your baby to touch them, using his hands or feet. Applaud his efforts when the tower tumbles.
What baby learns: Cause and effect (tap or push to demolish the tower) and hand-eye coordination.
4. Name of the game: Wild, Wild Waters
How to play: Fill a sink, large bowl, or a bucket with water, or use a tub at bath time. Settle your cutie into your lap, or hold her to keep her safe near water. Gently toss a waterproof toy into the basin to make it splatter or cause ripples. Let her splash around and make waves or rescue a ducky from the roiling current. (Just be sure to never leave baby alone around water.)
What baby learns: Cause and effect (the ripples) and hand-eye coordination.
5. Name of the game: Walk the Puppy
How to play: Grab a toy that has a pull string, or create one by attaching a short ribbon or scarf to a favorite toy from your child’s collection, say, a pup or kitty (do not leave baby alone with the new toy as it could be strangulation hazard). Sit on the floor next to your baby or toddler, grab the end of the string, and coax the toy toward you. Hand over the reins. Say pull and help your playmate ease the toy forward. If he walks independently, let him “walk” the doggie.
What baby learns: Cause and effect, some vocabulary, and large and small motor skills.