Rough & tumble play – Baby

rough and tumble babyWhile your baby is not ready for rough play, there are many ways to help your baby enjoy movement and touch through play.

Did you know?

Babies usually enjoy play that includes moving in space, initially moving slowly up and down or from side to side, being lifted into the air, or gently bouncing on your knee.

Add language

Use repetitive phrases and a higher pitch to match the playful movement e.g. “up up up”, “whee”, “bounce bounce bounce”. Pause and wait for your baby to indicate they want more – this may be through eye contact with you, body movement, making a noise, or a combination of these. If they do this, say the word “more” and repeat the activity. This helps your baby learn that they can communicate and get what they want or need.

Other development

As your baby becomes more mobile; rolling, climbing and tumbling over people helps them explore their changing position in space, delight in connecting with other people and work out what will and won’t be allowed.


Sing action songs that include whole body movements e.g. “Zoom zoom zoom”, “A smooth road”, “This is the way the ladies ride” etc.


Each child differs in the amount, intensity and duration of rough and tumble play they can handle. Start slowly and gently, and watch your baby’s reaction.

Shaking a baby or other rough movement is not safe.

Across the ages

All the activities listed on our “Play Ideas” page can be applied across different age groups. See how rough and tumble play can be fun for toddlerschildren and playgroups.


Activities listed under “baby” are suitable for children under 12 months. This age is largely about babies exploring their own bodies and the world around them from the safety of a close relationship with their caregiver.