Inside: Looking for things to do with a 6-month-old who is staying awake for longer stretches, and you need more ideas to fill all that awake time? These 6-month-old activities will add some variety to your days…and keep you, the adult, from complete and utter boredom.
By the time your baby hits six months old, you’re finally leaving the “always sleeping” phase of babyhood behind. Now, both you and your little one are probably more awake and ready to fill your hours with more than just feedings, swings and diaper changes.
But how do you play with a baby?
You might be surprised to know that there are lots of things to do with a 6-month-old baby. They might not play Monopoly or baseball yet, but you absolutely can play “games,” do activities, and really have fun with your baby!
Here are a few strategies and activity ideas to get you started.
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A Note on Baby Milestones
At six months old, the CDC only says that babies should be able to roll over.
Some little guys have just mastered that and want to roll all the time. Others might already be starting to crawl.
If your baby isn’t yet crawling, that’s perfectly fine. Hold on to some of these ideas for when they’ve cruised on to that next step.
The same goes for babies who haven’t started making many different sounds yet.
Each baby learns at his or her own pace.
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Things to Do With a 6 Month Old
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1. Have Nonsense “Conversations”
Babies at this age are starting to coo, laugh, and explore the different noises that can come out of their mouth. Some even blow raspberries.
You can turn these early sounds into a game.
When they make a sound, give them your full attention and act very interested. Say things like, “Oh yeah?” or “And then what happened?” as if they were telling a story, then pause. If your baby makes a sound back, keep making sounds back and forth.
This helps your little one make the connection that conversations are a pattern of one person speaking and then another.
2. Read Books
Your six month old won’t be able to follow a plot or understand much of anything, but this is still important. Colorful pictures stimulate their brain, and time spent with you is never wasted.
Plus, when you read them a book and point out pictures, you’re helping them learn the words for different objects.
If your baby babbles back and “reads” with you, encourage them by saying things like, “Yes, you’re right, that’s the little bunny!”
Pro-Tip: You’ll probably want to stick to board books exclusively at this point. I know I was tempted to bring out some paper ones for my daughter at this age, but six-month-olds are really fast. Those paper books never stood a chance against a curious baby.
Related: 40 Best Board Books for Babies Under One
3. Go for a Walk
“What?” you may be thinking, “How does walking help language?” The answer is simple.
While some walks might be essential mom time– getting a break in the fresh air yourself, a few minutes listening to a podcast, or encouraging your baby to fall asleep– they can be more.
When you strap your baby into their stroller and hit the park, you can point out everything you see and label it for them. “Bird,” “taxi,” “tree,” all become more fascinating to your child when they have a sound connected to them.
Strollers like this one where baby’s position can rotate to face you or face away from you are amazing! You can switch them up, depending on your needs and preferences.
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4. Sing Songs with Hand Motions
You’ve likely noticed at this point that your little guy LOVES music.
They’ll probably stop what they’re doing to listen very carefully when it’s on, or responding even more strongly by smiling, laughing, or even falling asleep to favorite tunes.
There are some good baby songs which have great hand motions to go along with the words:
- The Itsy Bitsy Spider,
- The Wheels on the Bus, and
- Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.
You can sing songs together one of two ways…
You can sing the words and move your babies hands and arms for them (rolling their hands for the wheels, clapping them for patty-cake, etc).
If your baby is a bit more stiff or doesn’t want you to move their arms, you can do the hand motions while they watch you, too.
5. Tummy Time
You’ve probably been doing this one for a while now, but it can get so much more interesting with a six month old! Now, your child is (or very soon will be) capable of reaching for objects just out of reach.
Offer them some coveted sensory items like a foil blanket, colorful scarf, or rattle and encourage them to reach out. You can also place some just out of reach to the side and encourage them to roll over to get the item.
This is a great way to build up their upper body strength and give those little arms the tone they need to start crawling.
6. High Chair Water Play
If your baby can sit up with support and you have a high chair with a tray that could hold 1cm of water, you can try this activity.
Simply pour a small amount of water onto their high chair tray, then add floating items and let your baby watch and explore.
7. Yoga Ball Rolling
If you got a yoga ball to prepare for labor and still have it nearby, this is an activity both of my babies really loved.
Place your baby belly down on the yoga ball while kneeling next to or sitting behind it. Then, gently roll them back and forth a couple of inches, head to toe.
This helps them build up core muscles and usually gets them laughing hysterically. And what parent doesn’t love a laughing baby? It’s contagious!
8. “Drop It”
At around 6 months old, babies learn how to drop items (usually from high places like their high chair or your arms). This usually results in EVERYTHING hitting the decks.
Instead of getting frustrated, try turning it into a game. Whenever they drop something, give it right back.
You can try showing them how different objects fall, like blocks vs napkins, or add objects that make different sounds when they fall, like a rattle or a spoon.
Your mileage may vary on this one. I’ve had one child who LOVED bathtime at this age, and another who couldn’t stand the water.
But if you have a little fish on your hands, bathtime can be a great time to develop their cognition. They can learn cause and effect by splashing (and watching what happens to your face if they splash YOU), peek-a-boo behind the washcloth helps with object permanence, and then there are all the bath toys.
Even babies this small can gum and explore a rubber duck!
Related: When Baby Cries After Bath Time – 13 Ways to Prevent Tears in the First Place
10. Sensory Stimulation
Six month old babies LOVE exploring through their senses! Offer them as much variety as you can.
Music, novel nosies (blown raspberries are always a favorite), rattles, and the great outdoors are great for auditory experiences. You can also grab some crinkle books or blankets, items with tags, or squishy foods like bananas.
Every time your baby encounters something new, they’re developing the neural pathways they’ll use for the rest of their life.
To make it more interesting for you as the parent, try seeing how many new sounds you can make in an hour, or become a “scientist” and try to discover which sensations your baby likes the best.
Related: Top 12 Minimalist Baby Toys for Year One and Beyond
11. Lay Outside on a Blanket
Bored in the house and desperately need a chance of pace? We don’t blame you.
If the weather is nice outside, you can bring a picnic blanket outside and lay under a tree. Make sure it’s a time of day when the sun isn’t high in the sky.
Your 6-month-old will enjoy looking up at novel things like trees, clouds and birds. Or, if they enjoy tummy time, they can lay on their stomach while taking in everything at eye level: grass, squirrels running, etc.
Editor’s Note: Don’t be afraid of using screens here and there with a 6-month-old. There are several shows that are designed just for babies. If you absolutely need a break, and CoComelon is the only thing that keeps your baby from crying and clinging to you, use it. Your mental health matters.
Your 6-Month-Old Doesn’t Need a Hundred Activities
Your baby doesn’t need a cruise director moving him constantly along from one activity to the next. And you definitely don’t need to go through all of these activities in a day.
If your baby is happy and content to lay in a pack n-play with toys for 45 minutes, don’t move her! Enjoy the downtime.
Days with a baby – especially if you are a stay-at-home mom can feel long and slow (and yes, even boring). Hopefully these activities put a little bit of fun back in your days.
Above all, make sure that you are taking care of YOU. Enjoy your baby yes, but savor those nap times, and even just times when your baby is content without you interacting with her.
Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint. Save some energy for when you have a very verbal and mobile toddler (kidding…kind of).
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Hillary is a certified doula who loves supporting moms in the birthing process. When not offering support and advice to pregnant mamas, she tends to her own garden, family, and cat. You can connect with her on her website, homegrownhillary.com.