Hey Dad, you’re important too!

This was one of my daughter’s favourite games… being run (as near to the ground as possible) around the garden by my husband while other children chased her. Everyone involved had a complete blast. There were heaps of giggles all round!


I’d never have thought of a game like this!

Over the years, I’ve seen that the games my kids play with my husband are VERY different to the games I played with them. The games he plays are short, sharp bursts of physical fun. I, on the other hand, would rather get out the craft stuff, read a story, play musical instruments, go for a walk or get the children playing imaginative games while I do the jobs I need to do. Sometimes I’d play with the children, but a lot of times, I’d get them to play alongside me.

It’s often struck me that my games might be fun, but they rarely result in the enormous giggles that my husband’s games have attached to them. But my games also rarely result in tears, whereas the games my husband plays might well end in tears or at least some form of upset. It’s not that he sets out to make tears happen, it’s just that the play that he does with the children is physical and pushes their boundaries. It challenges them, and sometimes might be slightly scary, but he’s always there to help them out and support them in their challenge. They’re just challenges that I’d never think to give them!

It turns out that it’s a thing… fathers play differently with their children and it’s a good thing! When dads are one-to-one with their children, they spend more of that time playing than mums do.  Research is showing that dads being involved with their babies from birth actually make an impact on their child’s development - socially, emotionally and academically! 

It seems that when toddlers have involved fathers, they have higher IQs, verbal skills and cognitive (thinking) skills and as a result, when babies have secure relationships with their father they are better prepared to face the world, school and the stresses that both these things bring with them. And it seems that these things last into adolescence too

It also seems that babies whose dads play with them often and from an early age can have better control over their behaviour and have better social skills and more resilience as well. 

One of the key things about this is the importance of dads to be able to adapt the play in response to the baby’s reaction. When dads do this well, they model it for their children and help them adapt their behaviour in response to others around them, helping the child develop strong social skills. 

The thing is, often, as dads, beyond the basic throwing the baby up in the air, we just aren’t sure what to do to play with the baby. Knowing HOW to adapt your play can often be a challenge, and in those moments, that’s when the tears might just come! One of the ways you can do this is by understanding your baby’s development needs at each stage. Having a number of age-appropriate activities to hand that show you what your baby is gaining from them will help you to moderate your play successfully so that there are less tears and more giggles! The Oliiki programme can support you with this through the 1000+ activities it contains. Each one not only suggests games to play, (like the flying game below) but it also explains what your baby is gaining from it, which will help you moderate your play to help them develop the skills they need next.

I can fly!

What to do:

You can do this activity either sitting or lying down. Hold your baby securely in front of you and lift your arms away from your body so your baby is "flying" away from you. This might be above your head, or in front of you. Tell your baby what you are doing, prepare them for it. "We are going to go flying, are you ready? One, two, three.... Wheee!" Watch as your baby goes away from you and then as you bring them back. Keep eye contact and smile at them.

Why you’re doing it:

It's fun! It is also developing your baby's muscles and is giving them a different view of the world. The muscles in their bodies need to be strengthened so that they will soon be strong enough for them to be used to help your baby interact with their environment. It is also giving them more language and stimulating their brain development. Babies are developing their brain synapses (brain connections) at a rate of over 1 million every second! So, the more you can do to stimulate these, the better it will be for your baby's brain development and for their learning.


How to do it:

Ensure that your baby feels secure in this game and can see your face. Do not do anything too suddenly or violently and make sure you have a good hold on your child.


Developing muscles: It is important for a baby to develop their gross motor muscles. The gross motor muscles are the larger muscles in the arms, legs, neck and back which are responsible for actions such as walking, running, standing up and bending. They are also the muscles which are used in hand-eye coordination activities such as hitting or catching a ball. Activities which strengthen the core muscles of the body are very helpful in helping a child to grow strong and to develop good posture and inner core strength. This is important for overall physical development.

Love this activity? For 1000+ more like it, download the Oliiki programme in our handy to use app today and take advantage of our 7-day free trial to start helping your baby develop through the play that you do.