Your baby’s play is becoming much more vigorous. When she picks up a spoon now she bangs it against pots and pans, and she furiously rattles the bunch of keys she finds. She can now grab two toys at once and slam them together. But her movements are also becoming more precise; thanks to her growing dexterity, she can pick a raisin off the floor.
She is becoming aware that objects still exist even when she can no longer see or feel them. This means she’ll miss a favorite stuffed animal if she can’t see it, and try to search for it. It also means you can begin playing hide-and-seek games with objects. Hide her teddy bear while she’s looking, and she’ll find it right away — and be very proud she did.
This is the age at which most babies go mobile. From sitting, it’s a short developmental step to scooting around on her stomach, to rocking back and forth on her hands and knees, and then to crawling. By the time she’s 8 months old she may be pulling herself up to a standing position and climbing your stairs. The following toys can help her explore her quickly developing senses.
Busy board: Many babies adore these activity boards that can be attached to a crib rail. They come with parts that move and spin, giving your baby a place to practice coordinating her hands with sensory experiences. She’s also getting the idea that you can make things happen to objects — so poking, twisting, squeezing, shaking, dropping, and opening things will fascinate her.
Soft dolls or stuffed animals: Babies this age often develop an attachment to a “lovey,” or favorite toy or blanket. And pediatricians encourage this connection, saying a familiar object can ease transitions later on. Still, some dolls and stuffed animals make more suitable loveys than others. Avoid ones with ribbons, plastic eyes, yarn, or anything that can be pulled off and put into your child’s mouth. And don’t get dolls so big they’re hard for your baby to pick up and explore.
Balls: Balls are fun for just about any age. Lightweight fabric balls suit this particular crowd well. Roll one back and forth between the two of you on the floor, or when she’s older, toss it across the room so can can crawl after it.
Household items: Look no farther than your kitchen cabinet for some of your baby’s favorite items. A plastic bowl, some measuring cups, and wooden spoons will entertain your baby for a long time. Open the cupboard while you’re preparing a meal and your baby will pull out a few utensils of her own and whip up something alongside you.
Wood or soft blocks: Show your baby how to stack a few blocks, and then knock them down. Pile them into containers for her — and dump them out. She’ll get the idea. Stacking blocks and filling and dumping games are wildly popular in this age group.
Moving toys: As your baby begins to crawl and move around, she’ll be more interested in toys that do the same. Find some sturdy cars she can push around the rug. Or toys that pop up when your baby pushes just the right spot.
Books: This is the age at which reading becomes more interactive and fun for both of you. (Find out more about reading to your child.) Cloth or board books work well now. After you read the book, you can pass it to her so she can take a turn flipping the pages and “reading” to you.