Playing games with a newborn

My girlfriend and I are expecting our first child next month. I’ve been looking longingly at Great Western Trail, Orleans and many other lengthy and challenging games wondering when we might next see them hit the table. /Sobs uncontrollably.

I’m curious if anyone has any tips playing board games with a young child around. Any advice welcome, such as game suggestions, what sorts of things to avoid, how to overcome holding a hand of cards, a baby and a bottle.

Or feel free to tell me I’ve made a mistake and I should sell my collection… I can take it.


If you’re gamer types already then, apart from the crippling tiredness, playing games with a newborn isn’t too bad. Just be prepared to abandon games and take 3x as long as usual. Hopefully you have a space to leave games setup and choose ones that don’t have much involvement of the other player on a turn

Then you get to toddler and it gets tricky.


Firstly, congratulations!

My kids are teenagers now so I’ve forgotten a lot of what having a newborn is like. Some of our best friends have a 2 month old though, and the dead tired stare is something I recognise.

Not tips on playing games, but having a newborn puts a lot of pressure on a couple, so if you both enjoy games having a shared activity that you get a lot out of is going to be a good thing. But play stuff you know, and things that are either over quickly or are either easy to pack up or leave out.

Kids are really hard work, but amazing in a way nothing else on earth is.


Agree with the above, card stands/holders would probably help for anyone on baby duty. I could see a game that requires a lot of brain power being an issue, but maybe you and your girlfriend could share playing one role (assuming you’re planning on bringing others to the table). Only thing I can think of to avoid is playing late into the night. If possible try to schedule an hour or two earlier than you normally would for both you and your girlfriend’s sanity.

Regardless, congrats!


Games that don’t require you to hold anything can work. Like, I remember playing some Codenames.


My advice is to get as much gaming in as you can while they’re an infant. Once they’re mobile it gets hard.

[EDIT] And congratulations!


Congrats! Really, it is not too bad for the first year. Babies sleep a lot, and can be quite happy chilling in a bouncer chair or rocker. Yes, there will be interruptions when they wake up, need to eat (which they also do a lot), or need a diaper change. As others have mentioned, the tiredness you will be experiencing since babies do not always sleep on a desired schedule may be more of a factor.

Still, fitting in an hour or so now and then for something like Orleans is doable, just be ready to step away now and then and keep track of who’s turn it is so you can come back to it.

Toddler-hood will bring quite a new set of challenges.



Everyone handles the stress and sleep deprivation of having a newborn differently. For us, I basically had no energy (mental or physical) for games for the first 3-4 months; and then only very light-weight games.

My partner has never returned to her pre-baby gaming appetite. She’s a morning person and I’m a night owl. Almost all of our pre-child gaming had been done in the evenings; now I find most of my time to play at night when the kids (and often, the spouse) are in bed.

If we were both morning people, we might be one of those couples that plays a short game in the morning. But as it stands, I now mostly play solo games in the evenings. We very rarely play 2-player games. And probably about 3 or 4 times a year we make plans with (boardgaming) friends to get together for a game night (or, as happens more often, a game afternoon with the kids at their grandparents house)

Gaming with a newborn is simply a matter of having the energy to do so. Newborns sleep a lot and don’t move from where you put them. Once they start crawling, it complicates things a bit. And then once they are walking, you have different problems – plan on having someone available to wrangle/entertain the children if you plan to do any gaming.

Everyone is different. Some find more time for games than others. But it’s absolutely worth it; not once have I thought “oh man, I wish I didn’t have kids so I could play games more often” (I have thought “oh man, I wish I didn’t have kids because these are basically tiny copies of me… and nobody should have to put up with that”)


Thanks everyone. Great advice as always, this is why I love this space to discuss games!


Lots of good advice here already, but I can say, Aeon’s End worked surprisingly well while holding an infant. Not having to shuffle was great, and since it’s not competitive you can just lay your cards down face up on the table.

Cooperative games in generally probably work better if playing with more than your partner, because if/when you have to step away to tend to the baby they can just play your turn rather than wait for you.

I have also played a few rounds of TI:4 while holding a baby. I don’t recommend that one so much. Haha.