Baby's First Year

Ultimate List of Baby Play Ideas (0-6 Months)

Stuck for something fun to do with your little one? Welcome to the HOLY GRAIL of baby play idea lists! This a ginormous compilation of the best baby play ideas from across the web, appropriate for babies ranging from age newborn to 6 months.

I’ve quickly discovered that, as a stay-at-home mom, I’ve got to be creative in order to keep my little girl engaged during her awake time throughout the entire day! So I originally started creating this list for myself as I spent hours at night and during baby girl’s nap times scouring the internet on various blogs (and Pinterest, of course!) for new play ideas. Once the list started growing, I decided it was just too good NOT to share with you all.

I’ve organized it by general developmental milestones because A) not all babies develop at the same pace, so doing it by month didn’t make sense to me… and B) I think it’s a quick and easy way to gauge whether or not a particular activity is appropriate for your baby.

Oh, and one more thing… just because your tot is at a certain developmental level (e.g. starting to reach for objects), this doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate a lot of the activities that are listed BEFORE it (e.g. in the newborn category). So don’t write them off right away! In fact, I would encourage you to go through the whole list for potential ideas, because most of the activities will probably only get MORE fun as your baby gets older. He will quickly discover new things during each activity that he never noticed in the past, thanks to all of his newfound skills! For example, a newborn will watch a puppet show that you create, but they are primarily observing and absorbing… but if you repeat this activity when baby is 4 to 5 months old, you are sure to be rewarded with plenty of giggles and interaction!

Newborns+

Watching a mobile overhead (check out: ideas for DIY baby mobiles)
Tummy time on Mommy/Daddy’s chest
Tummy time on a blanket (firm bed or floor)
Tummy time with high contrast cards or a board
Observing toys hanging from an activity mat
Going for a walk in the stroller or baby carrier (check out: top 5 reader choices)
Swinging at the park with baby in a carrier
Listening to music
Dancing to music
Listening to Mommy/Daddy sing their favorite songs
Singing & gestures to classic nursery rhymes (Itsy Bitsy Spider, Wheels on the Bus, Head Shoulders Knees & Toes, This Little Piggy, etc.)
Holding a newborn rattle (taking advantage of automatic grasping reflex)
Looking at a mirror (bonus points if you do this during tummy time!)
Reading a book
Playing peekaboo
Brushing baby’s face, hands, feet with different softly textured fabrics (a fleece blanket, playsilks, etc.)
Making different, exaggerated facial expressions
Baby massage
Putting on a puppet show
Smelling fresh herbs & fruits
Toilet paper tube sounds
Bicycle their legs
DIY stargazing box with Christmas lights

Once baby is actively kicking…

Kicking crinkly things (tissue paper, a crinkly taggie, etc)
Kicking with a shiny mylar balloon attached to ankle
Jingle bell socks or rattle socks on feet
Floor time on a piano gym

Once baby has good head control (and better eyesight)…

Have fun with a play tunnel
Baby “flying” atop your shins as you lay on the bed/couch/floor
Baby “flying” superman-style around the room, or in front of a mirror
Tummy time on a boppy pillow
Tummy time on an exercise ball (with your help, of course!)
Blowing bubbles outside
Watching the curtains softly blowing in the breeze
Enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells of nature (outside on a blanket in the shade)
A trip to the park to watch other kids play
Flashlight show on the wall of a dark room
Flashlights inside colorful containers
Storytime at the local library

Once baby starts reaching for objects…

Tummy time with soft objects (stuffed animals, soft balls, etc.) placed within reaching distance
Tummy time with water play in a shallow dish
Tummy time with Jell-o
Tummy time in a DIY play ring
Shadow puppets on the wall with flashlights in the dark
“Petting” your dogs or cats (wash baby’s hands afterward!)
Dangling lots of colorful ribbons from a wooden frame or make a DIY rainbow wooden ring
Mobiles with elastic strings
DIY Touchy-Feely frames

Once baby can grasp objects…

Tummy time with different sensory bags taped to the floor (more ideas here)
Water bead play
Polka dot sensory bag
Ice sensory bag
“Fingerpainting” sensory bags
Playing with edible “fingerpaint”
DIY Discovery Bottles
Pool noodle pit
Offering themed sensory baskets (another version here)
Playing with a sensory ball, or several smaller ones
Exploring hot vs. cold sensory play
Tummy time with a DIY sensory bin or DIY sensory board
Tummy time with DIY sensory bottles
Tummy time with baby-safe kitchen utensils
Tummy time with board books (check out: using rubberbands to encourage page turning)
Tummy time with a tray of “goop” or a goo sensory bag
Tummy time with a “musical” marble bottle
Bubble wrap art
Offering objects to grab
out of muffin tins
Stuff the O-Ball
Playing with wooden Montessori-style toys

Once baby is sitting up…

Playing with blocks
DIY Tugging box or tugging lids
Sensory bags taped to a high chair tray, against a wall, or to a window
Sensory play for the feet in a jumperoo
Baby ball drop
“Rock ‘n’ Row”
Sensory play with instant potatoes or noodles
Swing in a baby swing at the park
Snakes in jelly sensory bin
Playing with a wooden bead maze
DIY Familiar Faces basket
Sensory play with fabric scraps in a wipes container
Playing with an object permanence box
Sensory play with baby-safe cloud dough
Cardboard giant sensory box
Sitting/bouncing on an exercise ball (with your help, of course!)
Tissue Discovery Box
Ball in a Box
“Rodeo Days”
“Playing” musical instruments (simple homemade “guitar”, “baby drum circle”, tamborine, xylophone, etc.)
Baby “elevator” on your knees (this is especially fun in front of a mirror that baby can only see herself in when she gets to the “top”!)
Fun in a baby pool with sinking & floating objects
Bubble bath in a baby pool
A really awesome sensory bath (some of these ideas are better for toddlers)
Bubble wrap mat
Spider’s web discovery basket
… and 36 MORE ideas for sensory play!
Also check out: 45 Things to Do with a 6-Month-Old Baby

Do you have any other fun play ideas that you think should be added to this list? Let me know (or share a link to it) in the comments below!

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