If you’re not sure how to even begin playing with a six-month-old baby, fear not!
We’ve rounded up TWENTY things to do with a six-month-old bub and they’re all simple, baby-friendly, low (or NO) cost … and lots of fun!
How to play with a 6-month-old baby
1. Feel the feels
Sensory play is a brilliant place to start with babies of this age (or even younger!) You can gather up some different textured pieces of fabric and let your baby feel the difference between smooth cotton or plush velvet.
Head to your local Spotlight or raid those garments you were going to put in the rag bag and cut squares from them. Make sure the pieces are large enough not to pose a choking hazard – about the size of a hankie would be perfect.
2. Shake it off
A small screw-top old plastic drink bottle filled with a few dried beans is all you need to start your own baby-led band. Make a couple and play together, or encourage your little one to solo shake it like a polaroid picture.
Make sure the bottle is small enough for baby to grip easily and keep that lid screwed on extra tight. Then shake along to your favourite track and marvel at your baby’s musicality!
3. Tummy time
Putting your baby on her tummy each day is really beneficial to her development, and getting down on the ground with them while they strengthen those little muscles is a great way to bond and play.
You can move your baby around the room showing them different things, putting them on different blankets or playing with different toys, or simply chat away with her as she gets her tummy on. Simple but important!
4. Play ball!
Rolling a ball back and forth from you to your bub is not only lots of fun, but it also develops your child’s hand-eye coordination and teaches her more about how to use her body and nurtures her social skills.
Make sure the ball you choose is at least 6cm in diameter to keep things safe and sound. Small balls can get lodged in a baby’s windpipe and are a serious choking hazard.
It’s an oldie but a goodie, and games like this don’t become classics for nothing! Peek-a-Boo is a simple game that has delighted babies and their parents for generations. You can hide your face behind your hands and then reveal yourself, saying “peekaboo!” or you could hide a toy underneath a clean tea towel or similar and reveal that to mix things up.
6. Get moving
Babies love movement, so grab your little one and get going. Shoulder rides up and down the hallway, aeroplane rides across the living room, surprise raspberries on the tummy, wriggling through giant cardboard boxes or sit-ups on mum or dad’s lap. The more moves the better as far as babies are concerned!
7. Smell and tell!
Encourage your baby’s awareness of smell by sniffing your way through the refrigerator! Line up a few different foods and take turns having a big smell of each. Talk to your baby about each fragrance … and you can even have a cheeky taste of some snacks or sauces. (Because why the heck not?!)
8. Tell me a story
While babies may not be in it for the long haul when it comes to stories, they definitely love being read to and benefit hugely from sharing books with their favourite people. Board books are a great place to start because babies of this age want to grab everything and steer it towards their mouth.
Join your local library for the twin benefit of being able to borrow lots of baby-friends books and meet other babies (and their parents!)
9. Blow bubbles
Babies can’t quite believe how amazing bubbles are. A parent blowing bubbles is completely magical, as far as little peeps are concerned. Head outside to blow bubbles in the garden or clear obstacles and get set up on the lounge room or kitchen floor. Be careful not to blow bubbles into your baby’s face as the soapy mixture can obviously sting little eyes.
10. Clapping games
First experiences of music, numeracy and language can be bundled up into simple clapping games where you might count your claps, recite a rhyme or sing a song between claps.
11. Can I kick it?
Lie your baby on her back and encourage her to kick her little legs and exercise those muscles. You can float a piece of fabric (a tea towel will do) at her feet and let her kick agains it or you can grab her ankles and help her ‘cycle’ her legs like a mini Tour de France pro.
These ideas are all good for parent-child bonding and your little one’s physical development. And they’re also fun.
12. Taste a toy
As we said, everything goes into the mouth at this age, so why not line up a smorgasbord of baby-safe toys and let your baby work her way through them. This is especially great for babies who are teething, this activity can also spark chatter about different colours and textures too.
13. Hide and seek
Grab some empty cardboard boxes, pop them upturned on the kitchen floor and hide one of your baby’s favourite toys underneath one. Help your baby find the toy – teaching her out of sight is not always out of mind – and repeat by switching boxes or adding more toys.
14. Get glittery
A spoonful or two of glitter in a clean plastic bottle, topped up with water makes a brilliant toy to roll around, shake up and play with. Make a few in different colours to extend the play possibilities and glittery magic. Be sure to seal these properly and spoon the glitter in over the sink to minimise sparkly mess!
15. Dance off
Your baby in her high chair. You’re at the kitchen table. Your favourite track on the stereo. Alternatively, head to the lounge room and carry your baby as you dip, turn, wriggle and bump your way through a playlist. A brilliant way to bond, burn off energy and encourage a LOT of giggling.
16. House tour
Show your baby around the house, pointing out interesting features and favourite things. This not only builds on her language skills, but it can also be a brilliant settling-down ritual that you can use when your child is feeling a bit overwhelmed or fractious.
17. Water play
Water play provides lots of opportunities to explore, learn and have fun. Try a tub of warm water on a towel on the kitchen floor with some plastic dishes and plastic cutlery thrown in for your baby to play with.
Remember you must always supervise children around water, no matter how ‘safe’ things may seem. Sit beside your baby and take turns filling up the dishes, pouring the water out, splashing and stirring.
18. Laundry time
Babies love being involved in whatever parents are doing, which makes sorting and folding the laundry the perfect activity to do with babies. They can enjoy the feel and colours of the clean washing and you can get on with that boringly recurring task with a trusty little side-kick, chatting to them about the colours, prints, textures and people who belong to the garments.
19. Dress ups
A bunch of hats can spark a brilliant game if you try them on together. This kind of dress-up play encourages all kinds of early efforts at ‘let’s pretend’ and provides opportunities to extend language, social skills and motor skills.
20. Nature walks
Take your baby outside and begin to teach her about the natural world. There are plants to smell, birds to say hello to, bugs to look closely at and all kinds of colours and textures to spot. Being outdoors can also help babies to feel more settled and give parents a much-needed dose of fresh air too!