Your baby will be looking, listening and learning from the moment you meet them. They can see strongly contrasting colours so will be fascinated with zebra inspired bold stripy prints.
Instinctive reflexes drive reactions, for example the rooting reflex when a teat or nipple is brushed against their lips, but movements are generally uncontrolled.
Constructive play may not be relevant to your teeny tiny baby but they will enjoy being in your company and being introduced to touch and soft textures.
Being able to briefly lift their head and kick makes play mats and toys with different fabrics good to explore.
Eyesight is improving and baby is now able to track an object that is moved from side to side in front of her face, making mobiles with bold faces or patterns fun.
Being carried around or rocked is comforting and from around six weeks baby may enjoy being in an upright bouncy chair, and watching the world around them. Make sure they are sat high in the chair and don’t end up slumped at the bottom! Some bouncers have a bar with toys on that will keep baby amused while helping them to get the hang of basic hand-to-eye co-ordination.
Your wriggly baby is ready to work out! Activity gyms are great for encouraging baby to kick and grab. It may look like child’s play but all that movement is building strength and co-ordination.
Distant objects will still be blurry so your fine art on the far wall is as yet un-appreciated by the new addition to the household. They will enjoy bold colours though, so maybe start with Matisse and move on to Monet, or just a baby book or two!
Baby mirrors and music are also fun, so practice those nursery rhymes!
Wake and shake! Baby has increased concentration time in between naps now and has mastered control of his hands.
Rattles and toys that make a noise are popular with four month olds, who enjoy the discovery that they can make things happen.
Playing give and take games with toys or objects is a good way to practice grasping and giving.
Your increasingly dexterous baby will enjoy learning about smaller objects by holding them in the palm of their hands.
Your five month old wants to reach for the stars! Ok, maybe not the stars, but if you lay baby down on their tummy you can encourage them to reach for a toy that you hold just out of reach. This will encourage them to crawl.
Your baby is probably getting pretty good at sitting up, which frees their hands to explore things. They can reach out and grasp things from this position too, encourage them to practice reaching out (to build balance) by laying tempting toys around them.
Story time becomes extra special now that baby can sit on your lap while you read to them. Cloth, cardboard or plastic books are nice and robust, and ones with pop-up sections and noise buttons only add to the fun!
Pop-up toys bring an element of surprise and your sixth month old will enjoy the anticipation.
Pully toys are an easy introduction to cause and effect. Demonstrate how to pull a toy towards you that is attached to a string and encourage baby to copy you.
Saucepan drum kits have great play value, show your baby the way with a wooden spoon drumstick and watch your mini rock star unleash their wild (and noisy) side!
Your baby is still limited in terms of how they can interact with toys so they may quickly tire of one and move on to another; after all there is only so much banging, shaking and licking you can do! Provided everything you give baby is safe then you can get creative with household items to amuse them; empty plastic bottles and scrunchy paper for example.
An element of choice is a nice way for your eight month old to feel empowered. Place a selection of toys in front of them and let them choose. You might want to remove some toys once a selection has been made to stop the game becoming overwhelming.
Songs with actions like ‘This Little Piggy’ or ‘Pat a Cake’ are a nice way to interact with your baby at this stage, and you can help re-assemble toys that they will love to take apart.
Tower power! Stacking rings, cups or bricks are exciting and improve hand-to-eye co-ordination, as well as ordering objects according to size.
You might not live near the seaside but a small home sandbox is a fun way to entertain your nine month old, they will enjoy experimenting with buckets and spades.
Tunnel toys are very inviting to inquisitive tots; hide in them, seek in them – what’s not to like?!
You can incorporate learning into play this month by encouraging language skills. Perhaps ask your little one to put toys in the tunnel and test how much they know by being increasingly specific; for example ‘can you find the green car? Can you put it in the tunnel?’ It is best to break up suggestions into single component questions otherwise baby may get a bit confused.
Your baby will enjoy toys that facilitate their desire to be mobile. Push-along toys are great for giving your fledgling walker confidence.
Hand-to-eye co-ordination is so good these days they can make lines and scribbles with a chunky crayon. Your walls will never again be free of mini masterpieces!
Puzzle it out – basic puzzle trays and very simple jigsaw puzzles enhance dexterity and special awareness. They are really satisfying to finish too!
You can encourage your baby’s interest in the adult world by giving them child-sized versions of adult tools, like brooms and rolling pins. Your little helper may not technically be much help yet, but they are keen to do as you do so teach through toys and get them used to helping around the house.