Lap Rhymes to Play with Babies

I received a letter from Hungary from Mrs. Török looking for English rhymes to play with children sitting on laps. She wrote that she’s looking for “British, American or Canadian short riddles or rhymes which we don’t have to sing but they can be played while the children are sitting on the mothers’ legs. These rhymes would be played with babies.”

This Little Piggy is probably the most well-known rhyme that people do with babies in the English speaking world.

This Little Piggy

This little piggy went to market,
This little piggy stayed at home,
This little piggy ate roast beef,
This little piggy had none.
And this little piggy went…
“Wee wee wee wee wee”
All the way home…

As you say each line you wiggle each of the baby’s toes, starting with the big toe and wiggling each toe until you’ve done all five. On the last two lines you tickle the child up the leg – as if the “piggy” is running home.

Listen to This Little Piggy Went to Market

Round and Round the Garden is especially popular in England…

Round and Round the Garden (also known as Teddy Bear)

Round and round the garden…
(Run your index finger around child’s palm.)
Like a teddy bear.

One step, two step…
(Walk your fingers up the child’s arm.)

Tickle you under there!
(Tickle under armpit!)

Open, Shut Them is popular in the US…

Open, Shut Them

Open, shut them.
Open, shut them.
Give a little clap, clap, clap.

Open, shut them
Open, shut them.
Put them in your lap, lap, lap.

Creep them, creep them,
Creep them, creep them,
Right up to your chin, chin, chin.

Open wide your little mouth,
But do not let them in.

Open and close your hands when you sing “Open, shut them” and then follow the words to the song and make the corresponding hand movements while you sing. On “do not let them in” hide your hands behind your back.

Listen to Open, Shut Them

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes is popular around the world. Children point to each body part as they are listed. Older kids usually point by themselves. On babies, you can help them touch each part with their hands…

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes,
Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes,
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose,
Head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes.

Listen to Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

How Big is Baby

This is a simple game where you say “How big is (Child’s name)?” Then in a high voice you answer, “So big!” while gently putting the baby’s arms up in the air.

Little kids love that one.

Here’s one to recite while gentle tapping the bottom of the baby’s feet…

Shoe a Little Horse

Shoe a little horse,
Shoe a little mare,
But let the little colt go
Bare, bare, bare.

Here’s one to say while gently touching the different parts of the baby’s face…

Brow brinky

Brow brinky,
Eye winky,
Chin choppy,
Nose noppy,
Cheek cherry,
Mouth merry.

With the above rhyme you can touch the baby’s hand to your face while you wiggle your brows, wink your eyes, move your jaw up and down, wriggle your nose, blow out your cheeks and smile.

While saying the following rhyme you can help the child make the associated motions…

Two Little Hands Go Clap, Clap, Clap

Two little hands go clap, clap, clap,
Two little feet go tap, tap, tap,
Two little legs kick high, high, high,
Two little lips go kiss, kiss, kiss,
Two little arms go hug, hug, hug,
Two little arms wave bye, bye, bye.

If anyone would like to add any lap rhymes in the comments below, we’d love to learn more!

Enjoy and have fun!

Mama Lisa

UPDATE: Check out my next post for Horse Trotting Rhymes to Play with Older Kids!

This article was posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2008 at 6:44 pm and is filed under American Nursery Rhymes, Australia, Canada, Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, England, English, English Nursery Rhymes, Finger Plays, Hand Clapping Rhymes, Languages, Lap Rhymes, Mama Lisa, Nursery Rhymes, Parenting, Rhymes by Theme, United Kingdom, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

8 Responses to “Lap Rhymes to Play with Babies”

  1. Matt Young Says:

    Hi – I’m teaching ESL summer school, and one of my students is from Benin, West Africa. We are sharing songs (with translations) from each other’s cultures, but I have not been able to find anything online from Benin. Can anyone help?

    – Matt

  2. Mari Says:

    We have:
    “Trot trot to Boston,
    Trot trot to Lynn,
    Watch out, [child’s name] or you might fall in!”
    Bounce the child up and down on your knees and then bring your knees apart and catch her at the last line.

  3. Cat the Mouse Says:

    Thank you for these.
    My nephew adores clapping games even though he is barely one year old. can you recomend some more that will continue to help with his development?

    he is good with beats and mumbles as close as he can get.

    Thanks again

  4. Courtney Says:

    Ma and Pa and Uncle John (Bounce baby on knee)
    Went to town one by one (Bounce baby on knee)
    Maaaaa fell off! (Tilt baby to left side as if to almost fall off)
    And Paaaaa fell off! (Tilt baby to right side as if to almost fall off)
    But Uncle John went on and on and on and on and on (spoken really fast, while bouncing baby on knee just as fast)

  5. Jane Firestone Says:

    This is a great little resource. Thanks for doing it!

  6. Clapping Games for Toddlers | Says:

    […] Mama Lisa lists even more songs and rhymes such as Open, Shut Them. She also lists songs and games from around the world. […]

  7. Thora Goodnight Says:

    Bouncing baby on your knee or ankle with foot action, either facing in or facing out. On the last line, my dad would always drop his knee quickly downward and back up. I remember my grandparents doing this with us as well. There were two songs:

    Trotty horse, trotty horse, quick-a come-a dill,
    Girls go to market and boys go to mill,
    Girls with the apples and the pears and the plums,
    Boys with the fingers and the toes and the thumbs,
    Dot, da-da dee-dum, dee-dum!

    Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
    To see a fine lady upon a white horse
    With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, (hold toes for a few counts)
    She shall have music where ever she goes.

  8. Nishrin Says:

    Hi. I’m a grandma and my grandson and I enjoy the following rhymes:
    *One little finger, one little finger clap clap clap
    *If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands
    *Yankee doodle went to town

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