Players: 2-4
Playing time: 45 minutes
Cost: £35 (ish)

Pandemic is one of the best known co-operative games. You, the players, are racing against the clock to save the world from four deadly diseases. The board is a map of the world and the diseases are coloured cubes. Each turn you take actions to cure a city, and each turn a special deck of cards reveals which city will be infected next. If you fail to find a cure for all of the diseases before the deck runs out, you die. If there are no more coloured cubes left to place on the board, you die. If there are too many outbreaks, you die.

This isn’t a game which springs to mind when considering baby-friendly games. There are a lot of small coloured cubes, any of which could easily be grabbed and swallowed by a baby. There are also a handful of player tokens and small cardboard discs, which are equally attractive to small mouths. And if the baby disrupts the board even slightly then you may need to start the game again.

Having said all that, Pandemic does have a few advantages for new parents. Firstly, it’s co-operative, so you don’t need to worry about missing your turn. Secondly, you don’t need to think too far ahead or remember very much about what’s happened before. Obviously you do need some sort of plan, but what’s on the board changes so rapidly that being out of the room or away from the table for a few minutes doesn’t put you at a disadvantage. Thirdly, you don’t necessarily need to hold cards. The game requires you to tell the other players what you have, and so many people play with their cards face up on the table rather than keeping them hidden in their hands.

As we make all our recommendations from personal experience of playing games with the baby, we’d like to share our step-by-step guide to playing Pandemic while looking after a five-month-old baby.

  1. Move the baby’s playmat and toys to create room for one game and two parents on the floor. Place parents between baby and game.
  2. Find a set of shiny toys for the baby. Or take off her socks so she can play with her feet.
  3. One parent sets up the game. The other parent keeps the baby entertained. (I recommend a Kermit the Frog puppet.)
  4. Quick break! Change the baby’s nappy.
  5. Shuffle the cards. Deal them out to the two parents. No cards for the baby.
  6. Actually play the game!
  7. Move to the sofa in order to feed the baby. Hope that she’ll fall asleep nursing.
  8. With one parent trapped underneath a sleeping baby, the other becomes responsible for moving all the pieces and cards.
  9. Try not to wake the baby…ah…too late…
  10. Let the baby watch. From behind your legs. Make sure she doesn’t get to grab any of the little cubes.
  11. Beat the disease and win the game!
  12. One parent packs away while the other sings baby back to sleep.

Well done all. Especially the baby for not eating a single wooden cube.

Summary: yes, it is possible to play Pandemic while looking after a baby. We wouldn’t recommend it with more than one baby though…or with a toddler.



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