You don't need expensive toys to entertain your baby: with a little imagination and a few basic items there are lots of activities you can both engage with.
Not only will the games you play with your baby stimulate his or her growth and development, but you'll have lots of fun too.
Here are some easy suggestions for baby games from birth all the way through your child's first year...
Baby games for 0-6 months
A baby's senses are only beginning to develop at this stage, but there are still games you can play with very young babies.
Beautiful bubblesBabies love bubble tubs, whether you buy a bottle or froth up your own with dish soap and water. Blow them so that your baby has to move his or her head to watch them as this will encourage the neck muscles to strengthen. Older babies will enjoy grabbing the bubbles to pop them!
Show time!Buy some finger puppets (or make your own from old gloves - your baby won't mind the DIY look!). You can give each puppet a different voice and entertain your baby with a range of gestures. Get the puppet to walk up your baby's body or legs and wait for the giggles to start...
Who's a copycat?Babies adore copying adults at play time. Get two mirrors and make faces into yours. Your baby will copy you and will love being able to see him or herself making a face back!
Sound it out...Although babies can't speak yet, they can make a wide range of gurgles and other sounds. Make a sound and see if they can copy you.
Baby games for 6-12 months
Babies become much more mobile at this age, and may begin to crawl, often at high speed. Make the most of this stage with these games.
Simple Simon says...Although your baby can't talk, they can watch your actions and will copy what you do. As they become better at it, speed up your movements and you'll both soon be in fits of laughter as your baby tries to keep up with you!
Tower timeBabies of this age are budding builders. Use a collection of household objects such as cardboard boxes, cushions and soft toys (making sure they're soft and won't hurt if they fall on you) and see how high you can build your tower, taking it in turns to add objects. The best bit, of course, is when they fall down.
Make some musicYou can use safe everyday household objects when thinking up games to play with baby: a wooden spoon banged against a metal pan can be very loud! Or make a rainmaker by sealing off the ends of a kitchen roll tube with paper and filling with split peas or similar for a gentle sound when you shake it. Bang metal spoons together. The percussion section of your orchestra may give you a headache after a while, but babies love this...
Peekaboo!This is one of the most adorable games to play with babies. Hide in different places in the room (behind a curtain, under a table, behind the sofa) and enjoy the element of surprise on your baby's face as you pop out from all kinds of unexpected places. Your baby can also take turns - make sure you ham up your surprised response when they say 'boo!'.
Baby games for 12-18 months
This is the age at which the fun and games really start: they're walking and talking, so communication becomes a whole lot easier... and a whole world of creativity awaits!