Activity ideas for 6-12-month-olds

One of the amazing things about parenthood is that every stage of your child’s life feels unique and precious. The six to twelve-month phase of life is no different as your child’s evolving capacities see them begin to communicate with others, explore the world around them and exercise their burgeoning creativity.

Your baby is developing so fast; between birth and the age of two their brain will double in size, (1) a fact which helps to explain why this period is as crucial as any to cognitive, social, physical and emotional development.

Development will happen naturally and instinctively; all babies are built with an innate capacity to learn. However, there are plenty of activities you can do that will support your baby’s development – for example, creative play, sensory play and games that help to build motor skills. Play these games and you will quickly enjoy the rewards that go with watching your baby become both more interactive and more capable.

6-12 months – a time of exploration and wonder

There is no end to your baby’s curiosity at this age. There will hardly be a moment during their waking hours when they are not reaching, holding, grabbing, dropping, looking, listening, laughing or trying out a new sound or facial expression.

Fortunately, there are plenty of activities you can do with your 0-6-month-old baby at this time.

Activity ideas for 6-12 months

The following activities are all fun, engaging and can help you encourage your baby’s development as they take important steps on the journey to toddlerhood and beyond:

  • Peekaboo (peepo): this classic game can be played almost anywhere and at any time. All you need is your own face or a familiar toy. Simply hide or your face or the toy away – for example, behind a blanket, large book or similar – and ask your baby to find it. You can begin by just partially hiding and then graduate to hiding your face or the toy completely.
  • Dynamic movement: your baby’s movements are becoming stronger, more confident and more various. You can help your child give expression to their movement by providing plenty of tummy time together with objects and toys they can push across the floor – for example, a ball or anything with wheels. Eventually, you may place these objects just out of reach so that your baby is encouraged to reach for them. Involve yourself as much as you like; you can even convert yourself into a low-level climbing frame by laying on the floor so that your baby can climb, crawl and drool all over you!
  • Stacking: simply stack baby blocks or cups with your baby and have fun as the two of you knock them down again, or simply build upwards until the tower falls. This motor skills game teaches valuable lessons about creation, destruction and cause and effect.
  • Reading: your baby’s vision has improved a lot since birth and they are now able to clearly make out the pictures in books. Reading to them now and pointing out the different animals and characters in books will help to develop language and recognition skills while at the same time fostering what will hopefully become a lifelong enjoyment of books and reading.
  • Puppet play: using puppets to entertain and interact with your child is a great way to introduce narrative games and ideas of right and wrong. Various studies have shown puppet play to be effective in stimulating a child’s growing sense of morality, with children reacting differently to puppets depending on whether they take on a helpful or a disruptive role.(2)
  • Fun with food: Many parents introduce solids at six months. Far from being a chore or a mere practical necessity, this is an opportunity to expose your baby to new colours, textures, tastes, and smells while also developing hand-to-mouth motor skills. Don’t worry about mess, children who play with their food are just learning and exploring; studies indicate that children who play with their food may develop more quickly than those who don’t. (3)
  • Clapping: clapping is a great way to teach your baby communication as well as music and motor skills. You can sit your child on your lap and help her clap with you; when she is a little older she will begin to mimic you, clapping to your beat, clapping along with music and even clapping when she is excited or approves of a meal or game. Your baby gets to develop and you get a round of applause – what could be better!
  • Rhyming games: the more you expose your child to the excitement and play of language, the quicker they will develop linguistic abilities. Try singing songs and reciting nursery rhymes as rhyming words can really help to affirm learning.

It’s an opportunity

Playtime with your 6-12-month-old is not just about your child’s development, it is also an opportunity for you to let go, interact, play and bond with your child. The grind of careers, taxes and adult responsibilities often take the play and creativity out of us, but having a young child is an opportunity for you to reclaim a sense of fun – it’s also good for your development as a parent, teacher and friend.