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How to play with your 6 to 9-month-old baby

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This is part 3 of our Play at Any Stage series with Fisher-Price. See other age groups, from birth to 12 months, here.

There’s so much more happening when your baby hits the six-month mark with plenty of babbling, crawling and rolling. And that’s only the beginning! 

Excitingly, baby’s memory recall is getting better every day: they can remember who you are (and, less excitingly, may start to show signs of separation anxiety when you aren’t around).

Lauren Celenza, a child development specialist and researcher at the Fisher-Price Play Lab, also says that your baby might form strong attachments to other family members and friends. “They start to recognise other people, and other family members will start to become important,” she says. “They’ll recognise people that they see frequently.” 

Watch our full chat with Lauren Celenza – with play and development advice for babies from 0 to 12 months – on Facebook.

You might notice your baby developing new skills, such as waving or blowing kisses. Or even showing preference over toys, choosing one book or toy over another when playing. 

But that’s not all. Baby’s emotions are continuing to develop and they’re getting pretty good at letting you know when they’re sad or happy. They can also tell what mood you’re in too! “Their personalities just explode from here on out,” says Lauren.

What to expect when playing with your baby at 6 to 9 months

Your baby is learning new things all the time. One way they learn at this age is with their hands: grabbing toys and looking at them and (of course!) putting them in their mouths. So sensory play is a great idea around this time.

They start to love different textures and Lauren suggests taking baby outside with a few toys, so they can feel the grass. “Water is another one,” she says. “You can have a couple of cups of water or something really shallow and bring some fun little toys for them to kind of splash around.” 

Playing with balls is another engaging activity at the 6-9 month stage. “Babies can roll them back and forth and you can do so much with different sizes of balls,” says Lauren. “That works on hand eye coordination, fine/motor skills, things like that.”

Babies also now enjoy repetition, so try anything that can be repeated over and over again. “They like the same things, they like the same songs, the same phrases,” says Lauren. “They may even start to recognise some phrases.”

Your baby is starting to sit up sound now, so finding play to support this activity is a great idea. “They’re getting really comfortable sitting without support at this age, so anything that can really help support that core neck and muscle strength,” says Lauren. “They’re doing so much when they’re learning how to sit, they’re controlling their body, they’re using their hands in a different way and they’re seeing the world from a whole different angle.”

Tummy time is still essential for bub, and they should now be able to roll both ways, and commando crawl around the house. (Now is a good time to start baby-proofing your home if you haven’t already.)

Baby milestones to look out for

While every baby is different, there are some milestones to look out for around this age.

  • Social and emotional milestones: knows family members and may wave or throw kisses to familiar people
  • Physical milestones: claps hands and sits without support
  • Cognitive milestones: likes repetition, can follow one step instructions such as smile or wave.

Play ideas, games and toys for 6 to 9 months

  • Shakers: pop some dried beans or lentils inside an empty bottle and let bub shake to their hearts desire. 
  • Ballplay: find a large ball and roll it back and forth between you. This helps develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. 
  • Baby’s first blocks: These chunky, colourful blocks help introduce colours and shapes as babies sort, stack and drop the blocks through the slots in the bucket lid.
  • Peek-a-boo: we all know this one, and pretty soon your baby will too! 
  • Sniff test: by now your baby has started solids. At each meal time encourage your child to smell different foods before eating them. 
  • Singing: up the ante with your musical repertoire and add some songs that require clapping!
  • Get outside: being outside in nature is not only good for baby, but it’s good for you too!
  • Water play: babies love water play. You can even throw in a few coloured sponges for them to squeeze. Just make sure your baby is supervised at all times around water. 
  • Reading: keep reading to your little one , it’s excellent for bonding but also for developing important language skills. 
  • Repetition: at this age babies love repetition and enjoy hearing the same song or phrase, or playing the same game over and over again.

Speak with your GP or child and family health nurse if you’re concerned about baby development or you need support.

Get prepared: read tips on playing with your 9 to 12-month-old.

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