Keep your baby moving and clapping with these 17 song and game ideas

By the time your baby reaches six months, odds are good that you’ve already spent a lot of time singing and making silly noises (and faces) with them.  

At this point, introducing nursery rhymes and clapping and movement games will foster even more bonding, as well as language and muscle development. 

According to Sarah Liddell, a registered psychologist and professor of child development at Ontario’s Seneca College, as young infants learn to control their muscles through clapping and movement in rhymes and songs, they acquire confidence and skills.

“These newfound accomplishments allow them to try the next challenge, like sitting, crawling, and self-feeding,” says Dr. Liddell. “The back and forth between infant and parent through these games builds trust for infants both in themselves and their parents, which leads to risk taking such as climbing and pulling to stand and so on. Learning to control their own bodies establishes not only physical strength but self-confidence in their learning.”

So this is probably a good time to brush up on those nursery rhymes and games you might not have used during your pre-baby adult years. 

Nursery rhymes

Bonding time with nursery rhymes means your baby is hearing a lot of new vocabulary. Whether you’re singing or speaking the rhymes, or sitting or dancing while reciting them, babies will love the fun. 

Hickory Dickory Dock 

Hickory, dickory, dock.

The mouse ran up the clock.

The clock struck one,

The mouse ran down,

Hickory, dickory, dock. 

(Include some running of your fingers up and down your baby’s arms or tummy. Warning: will probably elicit laughter!). 

Humpty Dumpty 

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Humpty together again. 

(Sit your baby on your lap facing you and when Humpty falls, widen your knees a little to let baby have a little drop. Warning: will probably elicit giggles!) 

Old MacDonald Had a Farm 

Old MacDonald had a farm

E—I—E—I—O

And on that farm he had a cow

E—I—E—I—O

With a moo-moo here

And a moo-moo there

Here a moo, there a moo

Everywhere a moo-moo, 

Old MacDonald had a farm

E—I—E—I—O. 

(Repeat using different animals each time. Note: if your knowledge of farm animals was as limited as mine when my kids were babies, you may want to brush up on your list before you take on this song!)

Round and Round the Garden

Round and round the garden

Like a teddy bear;

One step, two step,

Tickle you under there!

(Take your baby’s palm and trace a circle during the first two lines. As you crawl your fingers up their arms, prepare for shrieks of joy as you tickle under their chins.)

This Little Piggy

This little piggy went to market,

This little piggy stayed home,

This little piggy had roast beef,

This little piggy had none,

And this little piggy cried “wee wee wee” all the way home. 

(Finally! An actual excuse for babies to shake off their socks! Start at the big toe, move to the baby one, and tickle from toe to tummy. Warning: will probably elicit shrieks of joy). 

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon

Zoom, zoom, zoom

We’re going to the moon.

Zoom, zoom, zoom

We’re going to the moon.

If you want to take a trip,

Climb aboard my rocket ship.

Zoom, zoom, zoom

We’re going to the moon.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1,

Blast off!

(Sit your baby on your lap and sing this out-of-this-world tune. Blast off and zoom your baby into the air as slowly or quickly as they’re comfortable with. Warning: may elicit dreams of becoming astronauts). 

Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Head and shoulders, knees and toes,

Knees and toes, knees and toes. 

Head and shoulders, knees and toes,

Eyes, ears, mouth, and nose.  

(Point to each body part on your baby. When you sing it a second time, take their hands and have them softly touch your or their eyes, ears, mouth, and nose.)

When reciting or singing any nursery rhyme, exchange your baby’s name for some of the words. On Old MacDonald’s Farm, for example, your baby could be a character who might make a “click, click” noise. Humpty Dumpty could be substituted with your baby’s name and have a short fall. 

Clapping games

Around six months, your baby might have started to bring their hands together. You can encourage your baby to keep this movement going with some clapping games. Hold their hands and move them together if they’re not yet doing so.  

Pat-a-Cake

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.

Bake me a cake as fast as you can

Pat it, and prick it, and mark it with “B”

And put it in the oven for Baby and me!

(Substitute your baby’s initial and use their name instead of “Baby.” And tickling their tummy at the end is pretty much mandatory!)

Open Shut Them

Open shut them, open shut them,

Clap a little clap, clap, clap.

Open shut them, open shut them,

Pat them in your lap, lap, lap.

Creep them, crawl them, creep them, crawl them

Move them to your chin, chin, chin.

Open wide your little mouth,

But do not let them in, in, in.

(The perfect game to move your baby’s hands in a clapping motion!)

If You’re Happy and You Know It

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it,

And you really want to show it,

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet.

If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet.

If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it,

If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet.

(Babies, and everyone joining in for that matter, will love this up-tempo, happy song!)

Movement games

Some babies start sitting at four months, some at nine months. At six months old, some babies will already be crawling while some will rock back and forth on hands and knees. Don’t be surprised if your baby crawls backwards before they crawl forwards. Just be sure to give your baby enough space in which to move. 

Sitting games

If your child is sitting on their own or in a high chair or floor seat, provide them with toys that will encourage different movements. If your baby is in a high chair, give them wooden spoons to hit against the tray. In the chair or on the floor, give them rattles or toy keys to shake or blow bubbles for them to reach at. 

Tummy games 

During tummy time [PDF], roll a ball from right to left to encourage your baby to follow with their eyes and reach for it. 

Babies will want to push themselves up to look at objects such as mirrors or rolling toys. 

To encourage crawling, place toys just out of your baby’s reach. Use bright and musical toys such as balls or cars to get your baby even more excited to move forward. Make sure your baby has enough space to move around. 

Crawling games

If your baby has mastered crawling, continue to encourage the movement by setting up items they will want to crawl to. Whether that “object” is you calling them to come to you, or a favourite toy they want to hold, your baby will be on the move. Get on all fours too and have your baby chase you.  

Tummy-to-standing encouragement 

Place your baby near stable pieces of furniture to encourage them to pull to standing. You may have to hold them up to stand yourself at first and soon enough they’ll be doing it on their own. 

Movement songs

Use some of the following songs to play with your baby. Each will develop both movement, fun, and bonding. 

I’m a Little Teapot

I’m a little teapot, short and stout

Here is my handle, here is my spout

When I get all steamed up, I may shout:

“Tip me over and pour me out!”

Wheels on the Bus

The wheels on the bus go round and round

Round and round

Round and round

The wheels on the bus go round and round

All ’round the town

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish

Swish, swish, swish

Swish, swish, swish

The wipers on the bus go swish, swish, swish

All ’round the town

The Hokey Pokey

You put your right foot in

You take your right foot out

You put your right foot in

And you shake it all about

You do the hokey pokey

And you turn yourself around

That’s what it’s all about. 

There are so many happy, bonding ways to play with your six-month-old that will boost and strengthen their physical development. Have fun!


Further reading:

Setting up baby’s environment: 5 tweaks that encourage movement

6 ways to start your baby on the road to physical literacy

No stroller potatoes! Why babies need active play every day

Getting your kids moving: An age-by-age guide

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