baby learning, baby activities

Baby activities at 0-6 months

Newborn babies may be fresh to the world and entirely dependent on you for every aspect of their survival but this does not mean that they are completely passive. In fact, with every passing hour, minute and day your baby is growing, developing and improving its skillset.

Yes, although it may not feel like it, as your baby cries out, feeds, looks into your eyes during nappy change or grabs at your finger as you rock her to sleep, they are learning.

But what about those periods of time when your baby is happily fed, awake and wearing a fresh nappy, what do you do then? In the article below we offer some top tips for activities to do with your baby from birth to six months.

Early baby play

It goes without saying that when you have a newborn, there is no point being overly ambitious when it comes to your activity calendar. However, this does not mean that there is not plenty of fun as well as mental and emotional stimulation to be had for both you and your baby as they undertake their first journeys of discovery here on planet earth.

Simply by being with your newborn, talking to and responding to cues, you will be helping to develop basic communication skills. Yes, you may be busy, but in a way, this provides the perfect setting for you to combine words with action – for example, you can talk about what you are doing as you prepare dinner, hang out the laundry or get dressed in the morning. At this early stage of life, you are the centre of your new baby’s world so you don’t need to worry about these things being boring – you cannot help but be a source of endless fascination for your child.

In all probability, your instincts will swing into action and you will naturally play with your child, often without even realising that is what you are doing. But we all need a helping hand at times, which is why we have provided the following guide:

Activity ideas for 0-6 month-old babies

  1. Listen and learn: pay attention to your baby and they will let you know what interests them. For example, if you see your baby looking in the direction of a particular picture on the wall, you can take them closer to it and talk about what they see; or, if they spot a toy or object and lets their gaze linger on it for a while, you can bring it nearer and let them touch it. Similarly, if they hear a rattle and respond to its sound, you can rattle it again.
  2. Exaggeration: when you talk to your child, you can use exaggerated, “singsong” tones of voice. You can also exaggerate your facial expressions. Doing this will engage their attention more easily and give them an opportunity to learn different pitches and expressions.
  3. Mimic your baby: your baby will be doing this to you and you should do it back. If they gurgle, gurgle back; if your baby laughs, laugh back; if they point and wave, point and wave back. This will help improve baby’s confidence, help them to visualise what they are doing and this will underpin your growing bond.
  4. Make eye contact: making eye contact is fundamental to human communication, and this is true right from the early months. If you look into your baby’s eyes, whether you are talking to them, feeding or changing a nappy, it will help your baby to feel confident and loved.
  5. Object tracking: when your baby is lying on their back hold an object such as a toy in front of their face and gently move it about to gain their attention. As they track the object’s progress, this will engage your baby’s neck muscles and help to develop coordination skills. Talk to your baby as you do this.
  6. Singing: sing to your child to help develop listening skills, language skills and emotional regulation. You don’t need to sound great and you don’t even need to know all the words. In fact, you can even the make song up.
  7. Dancing: your baby may not be able to join in and dance, but you can certainly dance as you hold your baby close. Not only will this engage your baby’s musical and language senses, it is also an opportunity to be close and to develop your bond.
  8. Tummy time: by the time your baby is three or four months old, you can aim to incorporate around twenty minutes of tummy time a day. Placing your baby on their stomach helps build neck control, core strength and arm muscles. It can be very tiring for a baby to do this if they’ve not experienced it before, so make the first few sessions short and sweet and always remain with your baby during tummy time.
  9. Reading picture books: it’s not about your baby’s understanding but more about letting your baby enjoy the sound of words. Have your baby on your lap and look at the book together, pointing at the pictures as you go. However, remember to hold it close; newborns can only see about 20-30cm in front of them.
  10. Massage: it’s not such a bad life is it, being a baby? Nappy change time is a great opportunity to lay your baby on a soft blanket or towel and to give gentle but firm strokes along the length of the body, arms and legs. This tactile interaction not only affirms your bonding, it also helps your baby to develop a sense of their own body.
  11. Bath time fun: once your baby is comfortable in the water, bath time can be the perfect time for play. Your baby can splash the water and learn about cause and effect – but remember to closely supervise your baby and never leave them alone in the bathwater.

Play without pressure

There is no need to feel any pressure about playing and learning at this stage. Yes, the early years are formative and are incredibly influential, but interactions in the first six months will most likely happen naturally whatever you do. Your baby’s brain will form new connections every day and will grow at an astonishing rate, and your baby will also build muscle strength and an increasingly impressive array of motor skills.