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How to help Speech and Language Development with fun Games and Nursery Rhymes

Updated on March 3, 2013

0- 12 months

In my articles about Speech and Language development I mention the importance of talking to and singing to your baby.

Many of us are very familiar with nursery rhymes and action songs and rhymes. But I also know that many people are not that familiar with them and feel awkward talking to a baby. So here's a few of my favourites to get you started.

Some of these rhymes are from the “Original Mother goose collection” published in 1697 and translated into English in 1729-so they have been around a very long time and can seem quite outdated.However they have stood the test of time and have evolved-with many countries and indeed families having their own versions.

Improvise to suit your own circumstances. The idea is to have fun with your baby and play with words, songs and actions.

The Rules!

  • Remember-Be Animated. You want to get and hold your child’s attention. He will pay more attention to the sound of your voice and your facial expressions initially.
  • Later the words will become more important.
  • Don’t expect success the first time or every time you play.
  • He may not be in the mood or something else may be bothering him.
  • Don’t force the activity on your child. Any event can become an opportunity for communicating-even playing with his food!
  • Be open minded, follow his lead and make it fun.

Here are a few to start you off, jog your memory and spark your imagination!

Clap Handies

Hold babies hands in yours and make clapping gestures together.

Clap Handies, clap handies,

Till Daddy comes home,
He’ll have big smiles for Mary alone,

Clap Handies, clap handies,

Till Daddy comes home,
Clap Handies, clap handies, Clap handies.

This Little Piggy

Say this rhyme while tugging playfully at baby’s toes- one at a time.

“This Little Piggy Went to Market

This little piggy stayed at home

This little piggy had bread and butter

and this little piggy had none.

And this little piggy went wee weee all the way home”.

Baby will start to anticipate the tickle at the end of the rhyme helping to develop body awareness.

Round and round the garden

Round and round the garden” has the same outcome and is also great fun!

Round and round the garden like a teddy bear,

(Make circle on babys palm lightly with your index finger)

One step (Tickly baby on wrist)

Two steps (tickle baby in hollow of elbow)

And ticklie under there.

(Tickle baby under arm)

Hip Hip Horsie

Hip Hip Horsie, Hip hip again,

How many miles to Dublin,

three score and ten

Will I be there in time for tea?

You will and back again,

Hip hip horsie Hip hip again.

(Bounce baby up and down on your lap in time to the rhythm, with an older baby you can tip them over slightly at the end)

These are also great for teaching the words “again” or “more” as the baby gets older he will want you to repeat it over and over.


This game can be played with lots of different toys but works best with building blocks. Build a tower of blocks with baby and let him knock them down.

Laugh and say “ooops or Oopsie daisy -all fall down”

This game teaches cause and effect—that actions have consequences. And it’s lots of fun!

Peek a boo

Hold up blanket between you and baby to hide your face

Say”wheres Mommy gone”

Drop blanket -with a big fuss-“Boo-Here I am”


Then play hiding his face.

“Wheres tommy gone”.He will learn to say “boo” when you drop the blanket .Make a big fuss.

You can play lots of different versions of Peek a Boo in lots of different situations throughout the day.

Use a toy-“Wheres Teddy gone”

Use your whole body-hide behind a door.

Pat a cake

Pat a cake Pat a cake

Bakers Man

Bake me a cake as fast as you can

Pat it and prick it and mark it with B

Put it in the oven for baby and me.

(clap hands and lap alternately, or clap hands and clap babies hands alternately)

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How l wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky;
Twinkle, twinkle, little star How l wonder what you are!


Rock -a-bye baby, on the tree top.
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock;
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
And down will come baby, cradle and all.

Baa, baa, black sheep.

Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for the master,
And one for the dame,
and one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.


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    • bredandagnes profile image

      bredandagnes 4 years ago from Ireland

      Thanks Ebonny. Yes the rewards are amazing-in every way -so it's a win-win for everybody.

    • Ebonny profile image

      Ebonny 4 years ago from UK

      You have included some of my favourites in your article and I agree it's really important to interact with babies in the ways you have described. One bonus is, as time goes by, it's so rewarding when the baby/toddler joins in and delights in singing and trying to tickle you too!

      Best wishes, Ebonny

    • bredandagnes profile image

      bredandagnes 5 years ago from Ireland

      Yes. They are wonderful and sometimes I wonder if they are"going out of fashion"-that would be such a shame.

    • Debby Bruck profile image

      Debby Bruck 5 years ago

      Breda ~ These useful rhymes and instructions will help new parents entertain their little ones and also develop a bond for the rest of their lives. Blessings, Debby