As he enters this stage, a baby discovers how much fun his own hands can be now that they’re no longer clenched in a fist. He can suck his fingers, and use them to grasp a toy that has been placed in his hands. He has begun to reach for toys. He soon learns to pass a toy back and forth between his hands and rotate his wrist to inspect it from all sides, usually before popping it into his mouth.
Make sure that all toys are safe for chewing — check labels! And never attach a toy to a crib or playpen with elastic, which could end up strangling or entrapping your baby. By 6 months your baby can probably sit up, giving him a new perspective on life and making him the center of his own clanging, colorful, ever-changing world.
This is basically a rack that comes with dangling toys and / or from which you can hang toys of your own choosing. It’s only for a baby who is still horizontal, but it can make life more interesting while he is. Your baby can bat at the toys, pull them, spin them, and rattle them. He’ll probably begin to lose interest in his activity center once he reaches 5 months or so and can push up on his hands and knees.
Babies love making noise. Give him a rattle and watch him shake it up. Put on music with a strong beat so he can accompany it — babies this age generally love music and are just learning to appreciate rhythm. Some rattles are clear, letting your baby in on what’s making all that cool noise.
An activity arch will have dangling, squeaky, tuggable plastic toys that fit across an infant seat, car seat, or stroller. This means that on long car trips or stroller rides, your baby can divert himself by exploring all the interesting noisy, grippable objects in front of him.
Soft stuffed animals
This is the age at which many children begin forming an attachment to a plush animal. Key criteria include soft and cuddly. You don’t want anything with wire ears or tail that could poke through the fabric and hurt your child. You do want dolls and animals with stitched-on features. Soft toys with plastic eyes and mouth are potential choking hazards. Also off-limits are features such as bells, buttons, ribbons, and yarn that your baby can yank off and stuff into his mouth.
Squeaky rubber toys
Anything a baby can grip and squeak is usually popular with this age group. Bath toy squirts are perfect for the tub. Expect to hear these squeaks — and your baby’s happy squeals — often.
Reading to a child at any age will pay off. And board books can withstand mouthing, drooling, and most other forms of baby love. Listening to your voice helps your baby develop an ear for the cadence of language. And varying the pitch of your voice using accents, singing, and vocalizing will make reading together much more interesting to your child.
Colorful teething rings
There’s nothing like gnawing on a soft plastic ring when your gums are sore. Store teethers in the refrigerator to provide cold relief when your baby needs it. Avoid putting them in the freezer. Neither the teether nor your baby’s mouth is designed to withstand freezing temperatures.
Activity quilts and playmats
These quilts can smooth a journey with your baby, whether you’re going across the street or across the country. Spread one on the floor and your baby has a clean, familiar surface to play on wherever you go. Hooks sewn along the side mean you can attach his favorite toys and bring them, too.