Developmental Activities and Baby Toys for a Smarter Baby: 3-6 months (2021 updated)
Congrats on entering the golden age of babyhood – a period of enchanted months when happiness reigns during the day and more sleep is happening at night.
As you and your baby get to learn more about each other, there are many fun activities you can do and toys your baby can play with to help reach developmental milestones.
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Just curious (or in a hurry)?
Developmental Milestones for 3-6 month baby
- When on tummy, baby can lift head and chest
- Open and close hands and shake toys
- Bring hands to his mouth
- Push down with legs if held in a standing position
- Help hold bottle during feeding
- See across the room
- Reach for an object
- Play with toes
- Look for dropped object
- Starting to babble and mimic the sound
- Laugh out loud
- Smile spontaneously
- Say “ma-da” or similar vowel-consonant combinations
You are your baby’s best advocate. If you have a concern about your child’s development- whether it’s because some areas are lagging, or because a skill that was mastered seems to have forgotten, or you just have a gut feeling that something isn’t right – check in with the doctor.
Most likely, there’s no problem at all (some babies are just late boomers). If a lag is identified the right intervention or activities will help your little one maximize his developmental potential.
Developmental Activities to do with your 3-6 months baby
Babies develop from the top down, from head to toes. Babies lift their heads up before they can hold their backs up to sit and hold their backs up to sit before they can stand on their legs.
Do lots of tummy time for gross motor skills
Most babies by 3 months can support their heads on their own so developmental activities during the 3-6 months should be focused on preparing baby for rolling and sitting. Lots of tummy time will help strengthen the baby’s core and upper body. So spend lots of supervised tummy time, whether on your lap or on a fun activity mat, or your nursing pillow.
Captivate your Baby’s Senses with Sensory toys
Babies in their third to the sixth month are still captivated by high-contrast colors and patterns so bring out brightly colored toys, rattles, activity gyms, and black and white cards.
Sensory toys that light up or makes noises when pressed or shaken will be your baby’s favorite at this age.
Also still captivating is mirrors. Although babies don’t realize they are looking at themselves they really find their reflection fascinating and will even reach and smile at the little cutie in the mirror!
You may also notice that your baby is beginning to take everything into her mouth. This is part of her sensory development so encourage your baby to explore a variety of items for her to grasp and safely mouth.
Be especially careful of her surroundings as she tries to mouth even the tiniest objects such as coins, bits of food, and bugs. She could choke on these things so make sure the area is cleared of objects that are sharp or breakable or have small parts.
3~4-month-old baby play ideas:
- Help baby improve his neck strength by propping him on a headrest. Bring a toy to get his attention then pull the toy away. Watch your baby try to lift his head from the headrest to follow the toy.
- Help baby prepare for crawling position by placing him on his tummy. Sit behind him and alternately flex his legs. Watch his arms to see what happens. After a few minutes, alternately flex his arms and see what happens.
- Sing songs to your baby to increase his attention to vocal tone, tempo, and pitch.
- Provide physical comfort and contact with infant massages. Pay special attention to his hands and fingers to encourage his awareness of fine motor ability.
- Gently raises baby to stand and watch her presses her feet on the floor
- Help baby explore different scents by letting her smell a variety of items such as lemon, cinnamon, banana, cheese, and other foods. Avoid bringing her near unpleasant smells.
- Hide and seek – notice how your baby follows you with her eyes. Play hide and seek by ducking behind counters and chairs, then popping out to surprise her.
- While baby is lying on tummy kicking his legs, move his arms in alternating actions to simulate crawling.
4~5-month-old baby play ideas:
- Practice sitting by holding the baby in your lap and support her lightly around her waist. Release her for a few seconds and let her balance herself. After a few times repeat the exercise on the floor, support her with your hands as she tries to balance herself.
- Enhance your baby’s self-esteem by giving her lots of mirror time. Let her see herself standing up, sitting, and close up. Put a hat on her head and watch her reach to her new image.
- Practice rolling by lying her on her back. Place a toy on each of her sides, just out of reach, so she’ll be encouraged to try to grasp the toys.
- Make bath time fun by placing different objects and toys in the water. My son especially likes to see Munchkin Bath Bobbers waddle in his bath!
- Help baby develop cause and effect skill by offering him lots of objects that produce an effect, such as a wet sponge (squeeze it and water comes out), toys that make noise when pressed/touched, and playdough (squeeze it and it retains its new shape)
5~6-month-old baby play ideas:
- Play can-you-get-it to help baby better control his reaching, grasping, and coordinating skills. Hold a toy within his reach, and slowly move it around. He’ll soon reach for it and eventually grasp it.
- Let your baby practice standing to help her develop her leg muscles and balance. While she’s in a sitting position, let her grab your thumbs, then gently pull her upright.
- Hold a toy in front of your baby to increase her desire to raise herself up. Then set the toy a few inches away from her to encourage her to go after it.
- Put a variety of small toys in a shallow container like a pot or bowl. Encourage baby to reach into the container for toys and bring it to you.
- Baby may begin to “army crawl” where he uses his arms to pull himself forward. You can enhance this skill by setting a toy several inches in front of your baby to inspire him to crawl forward.
Best Developmental Toys for 3 – 6-month baby
Best all around toy
Play gyms are still fan favorites. This 5-in-1 activity gym not only grows with the baby but is perfect for tummy time. The 48″ mat offers plenty of space for both baby and mom to play, with sides that fold up to form an enclosure as baby grows. The included prop pillow will keep your newborn comfortable during tummy time.
Best for gross motor development
This award-winning toy helps develop gross motor skills and bring out the little musician in your baby. The Honer 4 Piece Baby Band comes with different shapes of rattles that make different sounds. The mini tube shaker, baby maraca, baby rattle, and cage bell are designed with little hands in mind. Your baby will be able to grasp and shake these toys and be intrigued with the sounds they create!
Best for fine motor development
My son LOVES to grab onto his Oball. In fact, this is the very first toy we used to train him on grabbing. The honeycomb pattern makes grabbing and holding easy for infants.
He’s a year old now and we are using this ball to teach him how to catch. Another great toy that grows with the baby!
Best for social skills development
I was super fascinated by this drum/mirror by Bright Starts when I first saw it. I think it was meant to be a drum for baby to play with when sitting when they are old. However, I used it to train my 4 months old’s neck control while on the tummy.
When tapped, the drum plays music and lights up!
Best toys to learn cause and effect
This Little Tikes Tap-A-Tune Piano is a great toy to help baby learn cause and effect (while on tummy time!). The keys felt very similar to a real piano and the tune it produces is lovely.
Best toys to development language skills
I love these velvety finger puppets. I used these to train my son on how to track objects. He’s usually enticed by the vibrant colors of the plushy creatures. As he gets a little bit older, I taught him how to say these animal names while we play.
Best Sensory Toys
There are over 100 billion neurons in the fingertips. Activating these neurons sends signals to the brain and stimulates the baby’s nervous system.
Sensory balls are perfect for your baby’s tactile and sensory stimulation. Not only can your play with these with her hands, but she can also put these to her mouth for some oral exploration as well. Make sure they are clean, of course!
As your child grows, he can grip, toss, bounce and roll these sensory balls to help with his motor skills.
I usually have Baby Chunbao play with his sensory balls before bedtime. As these balls are a great stress reliever so we treat them more like a “calm-me-down” toy.
Best teether toys
At around 5-months, your baby may start showing signs of teething. Some common signs are drooling, biting, irritability, and fussiness.
A good teether can provide some teething reliefs and oral stimulation. Give you baby something to chew on, to rub against and something cold.
We love the Nuby Ice Gel Teether Keys! Not only does this teether provide icy relief in a fun key form, it has different textures for sensory stimulation. Best of all, its multi-surface is perfect for assisting in the eruption of front, middle, and back teeth. Speaking of a multi-purpose teether here!
I always kept this in the fridge (manufacture says to never put in the freezer) so it’s always on a stand-by to provide some serious teething relief!
Other great teethers:
Sophie La Girafe – Most beloved, all-time favorite. Sophie offers lots of parts for baby to chew (ears, horns, legs). Besides being a teether, Sophie is full of discoveries and activities to awaken baby’s senses. This non-toxic teether is made of 100% natural rubber and food paint.
Comotomo Silicone Baby Teether – A great simple teether babies love under $7
Best bath toys
These arctic creatures made my son’s bath time super fun. While we bathe him, he loves playing and grabbing these wobbly heads and delighted to see them sink and pop right out of the water.
Looking for more fun bath times?