Playing ball with babiesPosted: 07/07/2014
What would feature in your top five toys for babies? I can think of a few different candidates but a simple ball would have to be a hot favourite for us. They have provided hours of entertainment for us – here are a few simple ways to play ball with babies.
Include some interesting balls in a treasure basket
We have a small bouncy ball filled with gorgeous glitter and a wonderfully soft and colourful ball with a bell inside that I added to our treasure basket when ToddlerGirl was teeny. She loved to watch the sparkly glitter waft around, squish the soft ball and jingle the bell, although I had to be careful with them both as she also loved putting everything in her mouth! I’ve since come across this blog post from another mum who has a whole collection of different shaped balls for her babies to explore, which is a great idea for an easy sensory basket.
Create a homemade ball pit
Babies and children love ball pits. I can understand why; I enjoy the sensation of sinking into all the balls myself, it’s a bit like being in a dry Jacuzzi! It’s easy to make a homemade version with a cheap inflatable paddling pool and a couple of bags of coloured balls. We’ve used ours outdoors in the garden as an alternative to water and indoors to entertain visiting kiddies at parties. I also used to empty them into the playpen every so often and they were enough of a novelty to keep my then BabyGirl happy in there for some time while I made dinner!
ToddlerGirl used to love to post her balls into her playpen, out of her playpen, over the edge of the sofa – it’s amazing how much entertainment this can provide! I made a few containers especially for the posting of balls: a cereal box or a clean plastic milk carton with holes cut into them are easy to make and work really well.
This was a really good game when ToddlerGirl first started crawling. I would roll the ball to the other side of the living room and we’d then ‘race’ to see who could get there first. This could go on for quite a while, with ToddlerGirl giggling and squealing joyfully as we crawled round and round the room and she beat Mummy to the ball. Just the best sound in the world. And pretty good for tiring her out on a rainy day too.
Throw the ball and roll the ball
Once ToddlerGirl was a bit older, we progressed to throwing and rolling the balls. Flinging the little coloured ball-pit balls into our dining room would keep her occupied for maybe half an hour at a time; it was a bit of a pain to collect them up but anything that buys that amount of playtime is worth it in my book. We also used to roll the ball to each other. The rolling was a bit wonky at her end to start with but over time she got a lot more control, so I figure this is also a good exercise in hand-eye coordination. I used to sing a little song to go along with the game, which we learnt at our music group: “I roll the ball to BabyGirl, she rolls the ball to me… Roll the ball, roll the ball, roll the ball to me…”
We also made our own version of a ball run with kitchen roll tubes and cardboard boxes, which went down very well – even just providing a slope for a ball to roll down is fascinating for babies!
Once ToddlerGirl got a little older, I started to incorporate some sorting games with our ball collection, talking about colour, shape, size etc. Basically, the possibilities for ball play are endless!
A simple ball will provide hours of fun but there are also some really lovely balls for babies on the market with ‘added extras’, such as bells, rattles and even ribbons and tags to add a sensory element.
Here are a few we like:
- Bouncy rubber balls, perfect for a treasure basket. Even better if they have glitter inside. This one lights up too!
- Soft coloured ball with a bell inside, again great in a treasure basket
- Activity balls with different objects inside, like these ones from Bright Start
- Duckling ball – we nickname this ‘Dizzy Duck’ and it was probably ToddlerGirl’s favourite as a baby as you can shake it up to slosh the water and duck around. I remember this exact Fisher Price duck ball from my own childhood!
- Bag of coloured balls for your homemade ball pit. These are on Amazon but check out your local supermarket too as we got a bag of 100 balls for a fiver from Tesco in the summer
- Sensory balls – these have little bumps all over them to make them extra tactile for babies.
- Squidgy ball that goes ‘boing’ by Jellycat – ToddlerGirl still loves this but I had to be careful not to let her chew it as a baby as the stuffing can come out, so it is for supervised play only!
- Noisy balls – we loved this one from Bright Start that we call edour ‘giggly ball’. It’s not so good for rolling as it’s not a smooth sphere but it’s great for throwing (and clattering on our laminate floor!)
For more baby play ideas, take a look at my Activities for Babies & Younger Toddlers board on Pinterest.