Stimulate Baby Development: The First Six Months

Game playing is extremely important for the development of your infant. It's how they learn about the world and about themselves. Playing games is a child's way of practicing life; and as such it aids their emotional, mental, social and physical growth.

How then you do you optimize this rich opportunity for your child to learn and grow? What games and toys should you give your infant? At what age do you introduce games and what toys are appropriate for which ages?

Is your baby too young to learn from games or appreciate toys? Never! Here's a look at what games are appropriate for which ages.

0-2 Months
Right now, your child's most developed senses are vision and hearing. Therefore, toys that provide a visual feast are most challenging and exciting to your newborn. Ideas include sensory toys such as sock and wrist rattles, mobiles and unbreakable mirrors. You may also try buying a tape player with soothing music that you help your infant clap along to.

3-6 months
At this age, a baby is just learning to grasp objects with his hands, a skill that will slowly develop over the next 12 months. At the end of this stage, an infant can usually sit up. Your child is also considerably more active now, and so games will interest him more.

  • activity centers and boards: these are racks that come loaded with toys to pull, rattle, shake and twirl; you can also find activity boards that attach to infant car seats.
  • soft, fluffy animals: your child is at the age when he will start forming an attachment with a stuffed animal; remember to shop for a stuffed animal that is soft and squeezable, but be safety conscious. That means nothing your child can fit in its mouth, such as dangling strings; stay away from animals with wire on their inside.
  • activity blankets: because your child is learning to sit up on his own, it's a great idea to buy an activity blanket. An activity blanket can be taken anywhere and spread out, providing a comfortable, recognized space for your child to play on. Infant activity blankets usually come equipped with hooks that you can clip their favorite toys onto.
  • teething rings: by the time your baby's first buds come out, the teething ring will be a major source of comfort to them. But it's also a fun, sensory object that your baby can play with.
  • rattles: this will allow them to practice their grasping abilities while simultaneously offering them an auditory feast. Rattles also teach infants about cause and effect relationships; shake rattle-hear noise. Learning about cause and effect helps promote proactivity in infants that carries through to their later life.
  • board books: board books are easy for an infant to handle. Sit down with your baby and read from the text, or sing or point to the shapes on the pages. Hearing your voice will help them develop their own language skills.
  • peek-a-boo: your infant still has not attained object permanence, or the brain's ability to recognize that out of side does not mean out of existence. When you play peek-a-boo and hide your face behind a blanket, your infant actually thinks you have disappeared. A baby will only achieve object permanence at around eight months of age.