This list of 10 simple ways to play with your bub is in response to two recent reader requests for play ideas for young babies, from around six months of age.
1. Blocks: Wooden blocks which fit into small hands and are light enough to stack (and knock down!) easily are a great investment. Immy still plays with the set we bought her as a baby now at age five.
2. Fabric squares: Cut 4 or 5 squares of fabric to represent a range of textures – velvet, fur, cotton, tulle, etc. Pop them into an empty tissue box or baby wipes box and your bub will have a great time pulling them out. Small, colourful silk scarves work as well.
3. Music making: Babies are fascinated when an instrument responds musically in response to their touch. Small, lightweight maracas, bells, rainsticks and tambourines can be followed closely by drums and a xylophone. You can make your own shakers quickly and easily from a small plastic water bottle partly filled with rice or something similar.
4. Books: Cloth books and board books are just right for arms, hands and fingers which aren’t yet able to turn pages gently. My girls have both loved the ‘That’s Not My…’ series (each page of the book includes panels of texture) best of all.
5. Raid the kitchen cupboards for a pot and spoon to bang, pot lids to clash or plastic cups to stack. For sitting or mobile bubs, you might like to allocate a low drawer to kitchen containers and utensils which your bub is allowed to play with.
6. Balls: Choose balls of different sizes, colours and textures for lots of rolling fun. Balls are especially popular with babies who are starting to crawl. Standing babies might like to experiment with ramps and rolling.
7. Commercial toys: Immy’s favourite commercially produced toys were a yellow Fisher Price bus and set of Little People which I bought pre-loved from Ebay. My girls both also enjoyed pop up type toys – the type where an animal (or other character) would pop up in response to pushing, turning or sliding a button. Chunky linking rings are also good for many months of play with young babies.
8. Outside: Babies love being outdoors and it is the perfect place for sensory development with great textures, sounds and sensations to experience. Take a few toys outside and find a shady place on the grass for them to play and explore or pop sitting babies up with a shallow basin of water to splash in.
10. You: Once she was sitting in a high chair, Immy loved to be sat alongside where either myself or Dad 101 were preparing food or doing dishes in the kitchen. We would talk to her about what we were doing, sing together, give her new foods to taste or everyday objects to explore as we worked. Babies learn from watching and communicating with you as you go about everyday chores.
What would you add to this list of baby play ideas?