Those big smiles and adorable giggles are a sure sign your 6-month-old baby loves interacting with you! Playing with your baby is a great way to support their development and strengthen your bond.
At this age, babies are starting to explore the world around them by looking at themselves in the mirror, reaching for toys they want, and putting things in their mouth. So, how do you play with your baby? Read on for some fun activities and toy recommendations for 6-month-olds, plus expert tips on how to boost your baby’s speech and language development while you play!
Why should you play with your baby?
Play is an extremely important area of early childhood development, especially when it comes to growing speech and language skills. Play is how children learn and explore the world around them. Developing good play skills helps children learn how communication works and grow their ability to communicate.
Follow the tips and ideas below for playing with your baby!
Show your baby how toys work and how fun playing is
Here are some of the best toys for playing with your 6-month-old:
Pop-up toys: Push the buttons to show your baby what happens. You can model, or demonstrate, this language for your baby:
Exclamatory words, like “wow!”
Item names, like doggy and lion
Animal noises, like “woof” and “roar!”
Function words, like more and push
Basic concepts, like open/close
Cars: You can drive toy cars around on the floor, couch, or bed. Practice:
Sounds, like “beep beep” and “vroom!”
Item names, like car
Function words, like go
Basic concepts, like fast/slow
Cause-and-effect toys for babies
Cause-and-effect toys are ones where your child does something, then something happens. These toys are great for helping your baby start to understand play routines and the basics of communication. Of course, your 6-month-old baby isn’t yet talking, or even using gestures to communicate. But they can certainly start learning cause and effect through play!
Pound-a-ball toy: Use the hammer to hit the ball and watch it drop through the tubes or slide. Practice:
Exclamatory words, like “boom!”
Item names, like ball and hammer
Function words, like more and all done
Basic concepts, like on and down
Soft stacking blocks: Show your baby how you can stack blocks, then knock them over so they fall! Practice:
Exclamatory words, like “boom!” and “uh-oh!”
Item names, like block
Function words, like put on
Basic concepts, like on top and up
Play simple, interactive games with your baby–no toys needed!
Make silly or happy faces: Use this face-to-face time to connect and interact with your adorable baby. Make noises or blow raspberries back and forth. This simple interaction supports the development of their communication skills.
Play peek-a-boo: Model simple verbal routines, like “peek-a-boo” and “I see you!” Make silly faces or sounds as you play. Your baby will enjoy listening and responding to you!
Best books to read with your baby
The importance of reading to your baby can never be understated. For infants and early talkers, books with photos of everyday items or animals are perfect. The images help babies learn the names of things they often see and use.
When you’re reading with your 6-month-old, point to the page to show what you’re talking about. Discuss the story out loud so they get good exposure to vocabulary words and how we structure our language. Try these tips with any of these favorite books!
Play with household items with your baby
Your home is full of everything you need to promote language development in your 6-month-old. As you go about your day, label the names of items and show your baby how you use them. Here are some more ideas to spark your imagination!
Stack food storage containers or cups, then knock them over.
Play “drums” with a bowl and spoon.
Play peek-a-boo with a blanket.
How many toys does your baby need?
When it comes to the number of toys a baby should have, less is more. Research shows that fewer toys in a child’s environment can lead to better attention, more creativity, and overall higher-quality play.
As your baby’s parent or caregiver, you are in the best position to support their speech and language development. In fact, research has shown that children learn language best from the people they love most. Happy playing!