From the second babies are born, they are developing new skills and behaviors. If you have a 3-6 month old infant, you may be wondering what kind of brain boosting activities you can be doing with them to encourage developmental milestones. Babies at this age are quickly developing their understanding of the world around them. Not only are three to six month olds becoming more socially aware but their motor skills are also strengthening daily. Believe it or not, they are already thinking, learning, and problem solving! They are receptive to language, in fact by 6 months of age, they will begin recognizing familiar words, like their name! Help them achieve these developmental growths and gains all while having tons of fun with these engaging baby activities.
Sensory bags provide infants the opportunity to safely explore new objects and textures while engaging their senses and developing their fine motor skills. There are endless types of sensory bags you can create for your child. The simplest one being a bag of water! For an easy, low prep sensory bag, gather the following materials:
- 1 Gallon Zip Lock or Reusable Bag
- Small Objects To Add To The Bag
- Tape (optional)
To create a low prep sensory bag for babies refer to the following directions:
- Add water to the zip lock bag until the bag is approximately half to two thirds full.
Add a small handful of items to explore into the water. For this sensory bag we added faux leaves, mini pinecones, fabric pumpkins and pom poms. You can use any materials you want. Other popular sensory bag objects include but are not limited to, food coloring, glitter, flowers, plants, beads, and gems. The best part is that your baby can safely explore any materials or theme you want!
- Let the air out of the bag and seal it.
Optional: Use packing tape to seal the bag and secure it to the ground. This will prevent your child from picking up the bag and the objects from falling out.
Supervise your baby as they enjoy manipulating the objects in the bag.
Enjoy creating new sensory bags over and over for some mess free sensory play!
There’s a reason why Peek-A-Boo is one of the most well known games to play with a baby! Most already know how to play. You simply cover your face and then when you uncover it say, “peekaboo” to your baby. You're bound to get a positive reaction from your infant either in the form of a smile or giggle. They are always delighted to see your face smiling back at them. What makes this game so exciting to infants, is that around the age of 3 months old, they are beginning to recognize objects. Playing peekaboo helps reinforce the concept of object permanence. Object permanence is knowing an object still exists even when you can’t see it. Peekaboo also stimulates a baby’s senses, helps with visual tracking, and provides a bonding experience for you and your baby. You can change up the game by adding in a blanket or a play silk to hide behind. Once they develop a strong grasp, they may even grab at the blanket and try to pull it away.
As babies grow, they start to enjoy pulling and grabbing everything in their sight. You may have seen toys designed specifically for babies to pull a cloth out of a box. This easy do-it-yourself version is just as engaging. Better yet, it’s a low budget, upcycled toy option!
What You Need:
- Empty wipe container/or tissue box
- Play scarves, play silks, or ribbons
- Fill your empty wipe container with your play scarves or material of choice.
- Encourage your baby to pull on the fabric by showing them how. If your baby is closer to 6 months old they most likely will see the colorful fabric and want to reach for it right away. As your baby gets older you can even start with a closed lid and then model opening and closing it.
- Have your baby pull the fabric out of the container and enjoy it over and over again.
This easy DIY sensory toy helps babies learn the concept of containment, all while practicing their fine motor skills. Scarf pulling encourages grasping, squeezing, holding, pinching and pulling!
Sound Treasure Basket
A treasure basket comes from the Montessori method of teaching where children learn at their own pace, through discovery and their senses. As Maria Montessori once stated “The things he sees are not just remembered; they form a part of his soul. – Maria Montessori” A baby begins learning through their senses the moment they are born. A treasure basket is a basket filled with items that are safe for babies to touch, hold, and put in their mouths. Once your baby is around 6 months or sitting independently, it is the perfect time to start treasure baskets. For a sound treasure basket, use objects that encourage exploration of sound.
What to put in your sound treasure basket:
Items to Bang:
Pots and pans (or pretend metal play pots and pans
- Metal Spoons
- Wooden Spoons
- Sensory Sticks
Items to Shake:
- Sensory Bottles (tightly sealed bottles filled with rice/beans or other items that make sounds when shaken)
While this basket is focusing on things that make noise, it also allows babies to explore cause-and-effect, new textures, and weights. Treasure baskets help develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and are a precursor to independent play.
Make sure to be cognitive of the items you are allowing the baby to explore. Small items are a choking hazard and should be avoided. Treasure baskets should only be used with parental supervision.
High Contrast Books
This may come as a surprise to you, but a baby’s color vision isn’t fully developed until around 5 months! So all those colorful toys and books you buy for baby, can’t even be seen until they are older! Until then, they can only see blacks, whites and grays. Babies also aren’t able to track with their eyes, or move and focus on things, until they are older. Which brings us to High Contrast Books. Babies can see high contrast books as soon as they are born! The use of contrasting black and white images, shapes and patterns help stimulate and strengthen their eyes. Decades of research prove that high contrast books help babies focus and recognize differing images.
How to include high contrast books into your routine:
- Read to your baby in short spurts but do it often throughout the day.
- You can incorporate High Contrast Books into your nap and bedtime routines.
- Keep the book within your baby’s field of vision. Their field of vision changes as they get older. By 5 months of age it is more developed and they should noticeably be able to track objects. It still isn’t as developed as an adult, but they have a much better view of the world around them than they did as a newborn.
- As babies get older and develop tracking and stronger focus, watch to see if their eyes move with the images and if they reach for the book.
- Allow them to reach for and grab the books, even mouth and chew books (with supervision).
- Point to pictures and describe the images, no need to stick just to the words. Describing the images helps develop language skills.
- Include High Contrast Books during tummy time and encourage babies to reach for the book. Keeping babies engaged with High Contrast Books will help prolong tummy time and all the wonderful muscle strengthening it promotes.
Written by Amanda L.
Amanda is the mom behind the blog A Balanced Childhood. As a former art major, elementary school teacher, and now stay at home mom of three, she uses her blog and instagram account @abalancedchildhood to showcase her love of learning through play. She focuses on activities that aim to help develop language, motor skills, creativity, and social/emotional learning, while practicing mathematics, science, and literacy.