Shadow Games to Play With Baby

Build Visual Skills by Playing With Shadows

Shadow puppets on floor
Allen Donikowski / Getty Images

As your baby's vision develops at around 7 to 8 months old, you will notice they have begun to discover movement, light, patterns, and shadows. For example, your baby may suddenly become totally transfixed by the television when they never used to notice it.

The contrast between light and dark will really pique your baby's interest, and it's important to encourage those new skills by stimulating your baby. Take advantage of their newfound awareness to help further develop their visual tracking skills by playing fun and easy shadow games indoors and outdoors.

How to Use Shadows

  • Position yourselves between a light source. Sit with your baby on your lap and shine a flashlight at the wall or go outside and use the sun on a bright, clear day.
  • Show your baby their shadow as well as your own. Make small actions by moving your and your baby's fingers and hands.
  • Use more movement or hold up objects to demonstrate to your baby that as people move, so do their shadows.
  • Make shadow puppets with your hands.
  • As you play outside or take walks, point out the shadows that you can see: trees, cars, the stroller, your own shadows, etc.

Shadow Puppet Resources

Shadow puppets can be really entertaining and stimulating for your baby, and best of all, they don't cost a dime! In the wide world of shadow puppetry, you definitely aren't limited to basic bunny ears, so feel free to get creative.

There are also several print books available that teach you how to make shadow puppets or include pre-cut shadow puppets. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Fun With Hand Shadows by Sati Achath and Bala Chandran
  • The Art of Hand Shadows by Albert Almoznino
  • Mudpuppy Shadow Puppets Series: Mermaid Kingdom, Pirate Adventures, Dinosaur Planet, etc.

Other Ways to Stimulate Baby's Vision

  • Make eye contact. Infants learn to recognize faces pretty early on, so make sure you take advantage of the moments when your baby's eyes are open.
  • Smile, make funny faces, and stick out your tongue. Just as infants learn to recognize faces early on, they also quick to learn how to imitate facial movements.
  • Introduce your baby to their reflection. Have your baby stare at themself in front of the mirror. The mirrored movements are really stimulating.
  • Hold a toy or other object 8 to 12 inches from your baby's face. Shake it and move it around and side to side. Your baby will recognize the object and follow its movements.
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Article Sources
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  1. Sato K, Kanazawa S, Yamaguchi MK. Infants' perception of lightness changes related to cast shadows. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(3):e0173591. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0173591

  2. University of Utah. 5 Important Developmental Milestones to Watch for in Your Infant. 2016.

  3. American Academy of Pediatricians. Milestones Matter: 10 to Watch for by Age 5. Updated July 21, 2016.