Family Games

5 Cause-and-Effect Activities and Games for Babies

By: Stacey Feintuch
Toddler playing with stacking cups at coffee table
Ages 0-2
Critical Thinking
Fine Motor Skills
Social Emotional

Lights on. Lights off. Door open. Door shut. Cause and effect? Yep, and babies get that. Check out our super fun mini experiments for babies and toddlers. Your little one will love them.

1. The Indoor Light Show

How to play: Carry your baby or toddler from room to room, pausing when you reach a light switch. Show your little one how the lights go on when you flip the switch one way and off when you flip it in the opposite direction. Play tour guide and visit all desk and table lamps, too. Narrate your journey.

What baby learns: A little science (cause and effect), and a little vocabulary—words such as on, off, light, dark and other descriptors. Between 18 and 24 months, your little one may want to flip lights on and off without your help—just because they can make something happen.

2. The Shoebox Challenge

How to play: Select one baby-size box—a shoebox, for example—and two smaller boxes that fit inside it (jewelry boxes are perfect). Open and shut the largest box, repeating the words “open” and “close.” Then let your baby do it. Loosen the box top to make it easier. Place a ball, toy car or other safe object inside one of the smaller boxes to surprise your baby.

What baby learns: Cause and effect, vocabulary and fine motor skills.

3. The Empty Cup Olympics

How to play: Set out 6 small lightweight cups on the floor or highchair tabletop. Build a tower. Gently topple the cups. Act surprised, and say, “Oh look, I pushed them over!” Set the cups up again and encourage your baby touch them, using their hands or feet. Applaud their efforts when the tower tumbles.

What baby learns: Cause and effect (tap or push to demolish the tower) and hand-eye coordination.

4. Wild, Wild Waters

How to play: Fill a sink, large bowl or a bucket with water, or use a tub at bath time. Settle your cutie into your lap or hold your baby to keep them safe near water. Gently toss a waterproof toy into the basin to make it splatter or cause ripples. Let your baby splash around and make waves or rescue a toy duck from the roiling current. (Just be sure to never leave baby alone around water.)

What baby learns: Cause and effect (the ripples) and hand-eye coordination.

5. Walk the Puppy

How to play: Grab a toy that has a pull string or create one by attaching a short ribbon or scarf to a favorite toy from your child’s collection.). Sit on the floor next to your baby or toddler, grab the end of the string and coax the toy toward you. Hand over the reins. Say “pull” and help your playmate ease the toy forward. If your baby walks independently, let them “walk” the doggie.

What baby learns: Cause and effect, some vocabulary and large and small motor skills.

Author Stacey Feintuch
By: Stacey Feintuch