Baby Playtime: How To Play With A Baby In A Baby Swing
Your baby counts on you for everything. Feeding. Diaper changes. And entertainment? Well let’s just say baby playtime is a 24/7 job for new parents.
Fortunately, there is a seemingly endless array of toys, play gyms, bouncy seats and more, that your baby can play with. But one great—and often overlooked—piece of gear for playtime with baby is the baby swing. While most people use a swing to soothe their baby, it’s also a great place for you to play and connect with your little one during baby playtime.
How to Use a Baby Swing Safely
Before we get to the fun and games, let’s talk about safety. If you're wondering how to play with a baby in a way that's fun and safe, choose a swing with all the essential safety features, including a wide, sturdy base so the swing won’t tip over or collapse and a built-in safety harness to keep your baby secure in the seat.
Although it’s rare, babies can be injured in a swing if it’s not used correctly so be sure to follow the Academy of American Pediatrics’ list of safety rules every time you use the swing:
You can use a baby swing from the very first day you bring your baby home from the hospital as long as you use the most reclined position on the swing until your baby is four months old, and stop using the swing when your baby has outgrown the manufacturer’s weight and height limits.
Always buckle your baby into the swing with the provided safety straps.
Keep mobiles and other toys out of reach during playtime with baby.
Never use the swing on a table or other elevated surface and don’t leave your baby unattended in the swing.
Don’t let your baby fall asleep in the swing. If they do nod off, move them to a flat, firm surface immediately.
Let the Fun Begin!
Safety may come first…but after that comes the fun. Get started by placing your baby in the swing and buckling them in. If your swing has different speeds and movements, play around with the controls until you find how to entertain your baby with the combination they like best. Then let the fun and games begin!
Baby Playtime Idea #1: Take the Mobile for a Spin
If your baby’s swing has a built-in mobile, it comes with built-in fun—and depending on the age of your baby, they can play with the mobile in different ways. Infants will simply be entranced by the motion of the mobile’s dangling toys and may try to swipe at the objects overhead. Around the time your baby is 4 months old, they’ll start reaching for objects. Remove toys from the mobile during baby playtime and hand them to your baby—eventually they’ll start transferring the toy from hand to hand, and will hand it back to you.
While it might not look like much, this is all part of your baby’s fine motor skill development—and since babies learn through play, this activity is a great way to spend time with your baby while they build important developmental skills.
Baby Playtime Idea #2: Tickle Time
Nothing beats a baby’s belly laugh—and tickling is a surefire way to get a great big laugh from most babies. While your baby is safely strapped in their infant swing, gently tickle their tummy, feet, neck, and the backs of their knees, then get ready to hear some delightful giggles. And tickling isn’t just the best, and easiest, answer to the question ‘how to entertain a baby?’. It’s also a bonding activity that gives the two of you the chance to laugh together.
Baby Playtime Idea #3: Peek-a-Boo
Parents have been playing peek-a-boo with babies for generations—and with good reason. More than just a silly game, peek-a-boo helps babies develop object permanence, the understanding that objects exist even if they can’t be seen or touched.
Strap your baby into their swing and sit nearby so they can clearly see you. Cover your face with a blanket, a stuffed animal, or your hands, and as your baby swings toward you, reveal your face and say “Peek-a-boo!” in a loud happy voice.
During playtime with baby, they will learn that even if they can’t see you, you are still there for them—and their delighted laugh when you magically “reappear” may just motivate you to make this a must-do activity during every baby playtime.
Baby Playtime Idea #4: Story Hour
Your baby might not be able to understand a story or follow a plot, but it’s never too early to make reading an essential part of playtime with baby. Reading aloud stimulates your baby’s language and cognitive skills, builds motivation, curiosity, and memory, and can help to instill a lifetime love of books in your little one.
Set your baby in the swing and as they gently sway back and forth, read a picture book or two aloud. Read in an animated voice to engage your baby with the story and stop and make comments about the illustrations. As your baby gets older, encourage them to hold the book and turn the pages themselves.
Baby Playtime Idea #5: It's Showtime!
If you’re looking for a new idea for how to entertain a baby, try tapping into your inner thespian and put on a show! Grab some stuffed animals and give your baby their own private puppet show by acting out a favorite story with the toys. Use different voices to convey emotion and (hopefully) make your baby laugh out loud.
Play should be an essential part of your baby’s day—and it should be fun, safe, and enjoyable for you both. By giving your baby a front row seat to all the fun, the right baby swing can make playtime with baby the best part of both your days!