Pattycake: Simple Baby Games
One of the most fun developments in the early months of a baby’s life is when s/he starts to laugh, especially those big, catch-your-breath belly laughs. It’s impossible to stay in a bad mood once you hear one – they are highly addictive!
Baby Monkey’s first big laugh came, of course, from watching his older brother. But Mom and Dad have a few tricks up their sleeves, too, to make this little one laugh!
One of the most reliable methods is so simple that I am always surprised that it works: Baby Monkey loooooooves to play pattycake!
For those of you unfamiliar with it, pattycake (also called pat-a-cake) is a very simple hand game. (Here is an overview of the history of this game). Older children play it by clapping hands with each other. For a baby, an adult will typically hold baby’s little hands and clap or roll them in rhythm to the song.
Pattycake, pattycake, baker’s man
Bake me a cake as fast as you can
Roll it and pat it and mark it with a “B”
And put it in the oven for Baby and me!
This is the version I sing with Baby (substituting his name for “Baby”), but of course there are many variations. Here is one version of pattycake I found on youTube, as played by older children. And here is one of a mother playing with her baby. You can see how much this baby enjoys it, too!
What makes pattycake so much fun for babies? I’m sure part of it is the close, face-to-face interaction with someone they love. Also, babies love to hold onto their parents’ hands. I know Baby is always grabbing my fingers and playing with them. Plus, young babies who can’t clap on their own yet must love the motion itself. And of course there is the anticipation of getting to the rolling part!
When we were in Costa Rica when Monkey was a baby, I discovered that they have a variation of this game as well. Everyone loved to hold Monkey’s little hands and clap them to this song:
Tortillitas de mamá (Mommy’s tortillas)
Tortillitas de papá (Daddy’s tortillas)
The version I heard was always this simple one, although I have since read a slightly longer version, giving the “golden ones” to Mommy and the “hot ones” to Daddy. The book Tortillitas para Mamá and Other Nursery Rhymes gives still another variation, with Mommy getting the burned ones and Daddy the good ones (!)
I suspect that there are similar games in many other part of the world, since it seems to tap into something the babies really enjoy.
Does your baby love pattycake? Do you know of a similar game from another culture?
This post was written as part of the May Multicultural Kid Blogs Blogging Carnival.
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Aw, what a cute chubby hand 🙂 we play pat-a-cake and this little piggy, and then my husband has his local versions as well. The little piggy type song is an Indian version that starts with grinding the curry spices in the palm or on thr bottom of the foot. Then each finger or toe is a different type of curry and is given to a different person to eat, then thr last part is a spider crawling up the leg/arm. It’s all in Tamil, not English, of course. Our baby loves that one the best!
Oh, I love it! I knew there would be other versions out there! And I can just imagine how babies would love having spices “ground” on their hands or feet – how adorable! Thanks for sharing 🙂
What a good idea! I will try something similar with my baby girl.
Thank you! I hope you both enjoy it as much as we do!
Baby laughs are completely contagious! My girls still love little piggy but we haven’t done pat-a-cake for a while. I’ll have to break that one out again.
Oh, little piggy is another big winner! Monkey had lost interest in it, but now that he sees me do it with Baby he wants to help 🙂
How cute the baby laughs are, aren’t they??? We love our pattycake game! I also have a Russian version which we use, that says along the lines: “Clapping hands, where have you been? – At grandma’s; What did you eat? – Porridge; What did you drink? – Milk (original has the name of a semi-alcoholic drink, so obviously I replaced for milk!); Let’s fly fly fly and land on our hands! Sit for a bit and fly away!”
I love this! I can just imagine the “fly away” part is lots of fun for Baby! And isn’t that funny about the drink? It’s amazing what shows up in these old rhymes!
I absolutely LOVE Tortillas para mama and other nursery rhymes. I need to go dig it up as I’ve not yet used it with Rémy! I asked my mom about the burnt tortillas and she said it’s because Mexican women often prefer the crunchy charred ones! A tostada rather than a tortilla. Ha! And I thought it was a sexist comment! I love the way you talk about play with your baby!!! Such sweet and exciting moments!
Maria, I’m so glad to hear what your mother had to say – I assumed it was sexist, too! Yes, these are such sweet moments, aren’t they? And amazing how fleeting they are. Baby is just a few months older now than when I wrote this post, but already it feels like he has grown and changed so much! Luckily he still loves these games 😉
[…] and their sweetest little one is magical. She then explores what it is babies love about a simple game like Pattycake: the close skin-to-skin contact with someone they love and feel secure with, the hand gestures and […]