blocks that spell out the word play and 3 babies with text saying best educational toys and developmental activities for a baby

Best Activities for a Baby: 5 Aspects of Development

Disclaimer: This post Disclosure might contain Amazon affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (or referral fee), at no extra cost for you. Regardless of whether or not I receive a commission, I only recommend products that I personally use and/or genuinely love (I would never promote any products or services that I wouldn’t pay for myself), and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.

We want to help our babies develop by using fun activities to make learning fun. As busy working moms we are always looking for activities for our babies that help them to meet their milestones stimulate their little minds, and encourage them to explore their environment. Keep reading to learn the best developmental activities for a baby.

What Activities Can I do with my baby?

Activities for a newborn baby 0-3 months old

Mom holding her newborn while bonding with her baby through developmental activities for a newborn

Activities for language development:

Playing with your newborn is essential and is all about interacting with your baby and helping your baby interact with their environment. You can interact with your newborn by singing, talking, and making faces at your baby. For sensory play you can give your baby toys with different textures to play with.

Reading to your baby is essential to help build up their vocabulary. Reading is the best developmental activity for a baby regardless of age. It is never too early to start reading to your baby. Your baby’s mind is like a sponge and even though they are not yet talking they are storing up every word they hear into their memory. Studies show that baby’s that hear more words and are read to know 1 million more words than their peers by kindergarten.

Studies also show that when talking to your baby using exaggerated tone and facial expressions helps with language development.

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Activities for social development

Singing to your baby is a wonderful activity for a baby and a great way to bond and to help improve their verbal communication. Babies have a natural affinity to music and rhythm. Singing is a great way to calm and soothe your baby as well as to excite them. No matter what mood my son is in I can always brighten up his day by singing nursery rhymes.

Imitating your baby’s facial expressions as well as gurgles and babbles will help your baby understand how to have a conversation. Try and get your baby to follow your lead and imitate your facial expressions and sounds too.

A flexible non-breakable mirror is a great way to boost your baby’s social development. In the beginning your baby will not recognize his or her own reflection. They will think they are staring at another super cute baby, but they will love it. Babies naturally love to play with other babies and yours will get a kick out of playing with his or her reflection.

By 2 months old your baby will be able to realize that they can get attention with a social smile. The more you engage with your baby the more communicative and expressive your baby will become.

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Activities for visual development:

A great developmental activity for a baby that will encourage visual development is tracking. Tracking can strengthen your baby’s vision. Hold a colorful object close to your baby and slowly move it from side to side to allow your baby to follow the object with his or her eyes. After birth, your baby’s vision is not very strong so objects with high contrast can be seen easier. Black and white books, black and white cards are the most interesting to look at for your newborn and can help with vision.

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Activities for physical development:

Tummy time is a great activity for your newborn and you can start immediately after birth while in the hospital. I started off tummy time by letting my baby lie on my chest. This has two benefits. Tummy time helps to strengthen your baby’s core and neck, also letting your baby lie on your chest skin to skin promotes bonding.

Once we made it home from the hospital I would alternate between skin to skin and using a play mat. In the beginning your baby will only tolerate tummy time for a few minutes at a time.

Eventually, your baby will be able to work up to 20 minutes of tummy time each day. Playmats are awesome for tummy time just don’t completely replace skin to skin. Studies show the importance of skin to skin and promoting bonding. Skin to skin stimulates your baby’s brain, encourages breastfeeding, boost social and emotional development. I like the use of play mats because they encourage the baby to roll or reach for a toy. This will help to strengthen muscles that your baby needs to roll over and eventually begin to crawl.

Bicycling is more than a natural method to relieve gas. Bicycling strengthens your baby’s core, legs and hips. While your baby is lying on his or her back, push your baby’s legs around like pedaling a bicycle. This move increases flexibility and range of motion.

Using wrist and foot rattles are a great way to encourage your baby to swat and kick. Eventually your baby will realize that he or she is making the jingles with each kick and they will enjoy making music all on their own.

 By 3 months pulling your baby up to a sitting position will help to strengthen your baby’s core, shoulders, arms, neck and back. For a bonus you can count each sit up even though your baby cannot count with you he or she is still listening. You can start baby sit-ups after six weeks old.

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Sensory Play:

Allowing your baby to experiment with different textures is great for sensory development. You can use different fabrics from home or textured balls for your baby to hold.

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Activities for a baby 4-6 months

A baby engaging in developmental activities for a 4-6 month old baby through tummy time.

Activities for language development:

The activities for a baby that promote language development will be the same throughout your baby’s first year. Reading and talking to your baby will remain the most important thing that you can do to connect with and to stimulate your baby’s language development.

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Activities for social development:

Your little one can now identify the faces of his or her closest caregivers. They can gauge your mood by your expressions. Making fun and silly faces with your baby and letting him or her imitate you will still be their favorite game to play.

Your baby’s babbling will improve into syllables, this means that your baby is trying to converse with you. Continue to encourage your baby’s verbal skills by responding back. Your baby will be excited to feel like he or she is having a real conversation with you!

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Activities for visual development:

Introducing colorful toys will appeal to your baby’s visual senses. Allow your baby to play on an activity mat and put a colorful toy within reach and encourage your baby to swat at it.

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Activities for physical development:

Your baby should be getting plenty of tummy time by now and you should be on the lookout for rolling. Make sure your baby is always lying on a safe flat surface with no sharp materials nearby in case they roll.

Now is the time you can start to prop your baby up to further strengthen their core to encourage sitting up. Keep them entertained with colorful toys nearby.

Put Nursery Rhymes into action! Make each nursery rhyme more interactive for your baby by dancing or using hand gestures. This will make it more fun and also strengthen their little arms and tiny fingers.

Let your baby enjoy a workout! Placing toys nearby and encouraging your baby to pick them up is a work out for your baby and will further strengthen their arms necessary to begin rolling and sitting up.

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Sensory Play:

Babies learn the most when using all of their senses.

Babies love noisy toys like rattles and they love it even more when they learn that they have control over making theses sounds

Your baby’s sense of touch is very strong and they love to explore with their little fingers. Surround your baby with toys that have different textures on the surface. You can even do this with household items like a clean sponge, their baby Emory board, and soft blanket.

The Snuggle is real! Skin to skin is still your baby’s favorite sensory activity. Your baby’s most favorite place is in your arms. Enjoy all of the kisses and cuddles!

You can fill up a large water bottle with water and add glitter, pom poms, and food coloring and create a nice visual effect. Your baby will love to roll the bottle around and watch the pretty colors. Sensory bottles are good for your baby to play with well into toddlerhood. For toddlers, they are called calm down bottles and help for tantrums.

Get 5 easy sensory bottle ideas here.

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Activities for a baby 6-12 months

A baby sitting up and engaging in play activities for a 6-12 month old baby through playing with educational toys

Activities for language development:

Reading is still and will continue to be imperative for your baby’s language development. Soft books and board books are best at this age because your baby is likely to chew on the books.

Rhyming goes along with reading and is also an important part of language development and pre-reading skills. Rhyming helps your baby to develop auditory discrimination. Singing nursery rhymes and reading Dr. Seuss books are great for teaching your baby how to rhyme.

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Activities for social development:

By 9 months your baby has now developed a distinct personality and exhibits a range of emotions. You can play with your baby by talking to him or her. Explain the emotion that they are exhibiting and respond to their verbal and nonverbal cues.

Musical and Interactive toys are another great way to improve your baby’s social development. Help your baby to respond and interact with their toys and eventually they will be able to follow your lead.

The baby mirror is also still a great toy to encourage your baby’s social development. You will love to see your baby grin and giggle at their reflection. Once he or she begins to talk they will love to chat it up with their reflection.

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Activities for visual development:

Playing with colorful toys and having your baby practice grasping them will help baby improve hand eye coordination.

It is never too early to introduce your baby to the wonderful world of shapes. Shape sorters are great for helping your baby understand how to manipulate shapes so that they will fit into the hole. A great tip is to name each shape that your baby reaches for and repeat it several times. Your baby can’t repeat it back to you but he or she is listening and learning from your every word!

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Activities for physical and fine motor development:

Wrist and ankle rattles are still a great developmental toy for your baby because it encourages movement and allows your baby to get in touch with their musical side. Encouraging movement is great to strengthen your baby’s core and to eventually prepare him or her to start walking.

As your baby’s gains more eye-hand coordination they will enjoy stacking objects on top of each other. Building towers out of blocks and Duplo’s are great activities and kept my kids entertained for hours. Stacking rings are a great educational toy. In the beginning, your baby will just remove the rings from the peg but as they grow they eventually will begin stacking the rings on the peg.

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Activities for cognitive development:

Peekaboo is a fun activity for a baby and it teaches object permanence: The idea that things still exist even when they are not in sight. Start off by hiding a toy under a blanket and have your baby find it.

Puzzles are the absolute best educational toy for babies and toddlers. Babies can begin working on puzzles from 6-8 months. In the beginning, they will begin to play with simple one-piece puzzles.

Closer to their first birthday, your baby will develop the pincer grasp and will be able to easily remove puzzles pieces that have a peg at this time your baby will love deconstructing completed puzzles and dumping the pieces on the floor. Eventually, they will enjoy putting the puzzles together just as much! My absolute favorite puzzles are from Melissa & Doug!

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Sensory play:

Babies learn by using all of their senses. Sensory play is one of the best ways to help your baby develop.

Put on a light show: Babies are attracted to bright and colorful lights and this appeals to their visual senses. You can play with strobe lights or use a night light for baby to enjoy the show.

Play with food: Allowing your baby to self-feed encourages independence and allows your baby to further explore the taste and texture of their food. It also encourages them to be more engaged with mealtime.

Water is an excellent medium for sensory play. During the summer months you can have your baby play outside with a water table or splash pad. During the winter months you can use a small inflatable pool or even their high chair tray and put no more than an inch of water and add a few toys for them to play with. Always make sure that your baby has adult supervision, even in an inch of water.

Finger painting is a great way for your baby to explore different colors while also using their sense of touch. If you are like me and you can’t stand the idea of making a mess then you can put a few drops of paint in a sandwich bag. Seal and tap the bag so that it doesn’t leak and let your little Picasso go to town. This is also a great way to help your child learn primary colors and how to make secondary colors!

Exploring temperatures! This is another sensory fun game to play with your baby. You can fill a large water bottle with ice water and another with very warm but not hot water. You can also put glitter and food coloring if you like to make it more appealing to your baby. Your baby will love exploring the two very different temperatures.

This is a great opportunity to talk to your baby and explain the difference between hot and cold. Learning this now will come in handy when your baby becomes a toddler and you need to explain to them that they should not play with the stove because it is hot!

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Call to Action

Educational toys and activities are the best ways to help your baby to grow and develop while allowing you to spend quality time with them. My favorite educational toys are ones that will grow with your baby. Notice that I have repeated many educational toys on this list. You don’t have to buy a lot of educational toys for your baby, just the right ones! Always make learning fun and cherish every precious moment you have with your sweet baby!

Comment below What are your baby’s favorite activities?

Disclaimer: This post Disclosure might contain Amazon affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (or referral fee), at no extra cost for you. Regardless of whether or not I receive a commission, I only recommend products that I personally use and/or genuinely love (I would never promote any products or services that I wouldn’t pay for myself), and I always have my readers’ best interest at heart.

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