Scalded Chicken is a traditional game played with young babies, in the vein of Patty Cake, Peekaboo, or This Little Piggy, although it is aimed at somewhat younger babies--3 to 9 months or so. My parents played it with me, and it doesn't seem to have scarred me for life. Believe it or not.

You start by laying the baby on its back on a quilt or blanket on the floor. Lift the baby's feet and slowly work its legs back and forth like pedalling a bicycle, while chanting "Scald the chicken! Scald the chicken! Scald the chicken!" Then tickle the baby's tummy and all over with your fingers, saying "Pluck the chicken! Pluck the chicken! Pluck the chicken!" Next, take the baby's feet again. Lift them up and down together, gently raising its bottom off the floor, saying "Cook the chicken! Cook the chicken!" And when the chicken is cooked enough, nuzzle its tummy and gobble it all up as exuberantly as possible: "Eat the chicken! Eat the chicken!"

I find the whole thing very disturbing. But, I have yet to see it fail to make a baby laugh.

Update: Mexican-American Folklore by John O. West records a set of toe- and finger-counting rhymes from Southern California, variants of the following:

(Count from pinky to thumb):
Éste mató un pollito. ( This killed a chicky.)
Éste puse el agua a calentar. ( This put it in water to boil.)
Éste lo peló. ( This plucked it.)
Éste lo guisó. ( This cooked it.)
Y é se lo comió. ( And this ate it up.)

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