I remember when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy and looking around at all the toys I had and wondering how the heck I would use them to play with my young baby. Most of the hand-me-down’s I received were for older babies and I had almost nothing appropriate for an infant.
Luckily, I quickly some great ways to play with my little one and I’m here to share some of those with you.
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Keep in mind, all babies mature and grow differently. What works for some 3 month olds, might not work for others. Assess your own babies ability before attempting any of these.
1. Book: Baby Play
This book is great! It goes through so many ages for a young baby and shows you exactly what to do with them. The best part: for most of the ways to play with them, you don’t need ANYTHING. It’s just you and baby and sometimes a thing you may already have – a blanket, or a wooden spoon. So many of the things in this book are so easy and help you feel so much closer to your baby. Most of the rest of this list require things, but this book really allows you to use nothing or use things you have laying around the house - it's great!
2. Play mats
Play mats are such a great invention. When I first got mine, I kept thinking “but can’t I just make this myself with a blanket” and truthfully, you can; but having a play mat with all the toys built in is so much easier. I have two different ones – a more plain one with toys and textures attached, and a more fancy one that has stuff that hangs from poles that hover over it. I use both all the time! Sometimes your baby might not want as much stimulation, so for those times I stay away from the one with hanging things. He loves just feeling the materials, pulling on different things attached to it, and looking in the little mirror. I lay down on the ground with him and we have a blast! I’ve been doing tummy time on the simpler one since he was a newborn. When we use the fancier one, he loves it because there are so many attachment points and you can switch out the toys and change up how they're arranged. This is great because then he doesn't get bored and it almost is like a brand new toy!
3. Bouncy seat
We got a bouncer seat (very similar to this one from Amazon) as a hand-me-down and it’s been a life saver. It has some hanging toys on it and he loves to grab them, hit them and just stare at them. Like most toys, he can only handle so much time with it, but when he’s in the mood, he loves it! This is similar to the mat with the hanging toys, so you don’t necessarily need both. And you don't need something fancy at all!
Check out my post on What To Add To Your Baby Registry! Maybe some of these baby play items make it on there!
This requires nothing but you and your baby! Wait until your baby has good neck control for this one. We hold him on his belly and legs (like superman) and fly him around making noises. To him it’s the funniest thing in the world!
5. Singing songs
Another easy one that requires no toys! The best part is you can sing basically anything- even made up nonsense songs. Your baby just likes to hear your voice and can understand rhythms and melodies (and enjoys them) so just sing!
6. Rattles & Crinkly toys
We have a million rattles – and it’s a good thing because we like to switch between them now and then so our baby doesn’t get bored. These are great to use in conjunction with your play mats. We lay him on his belly and place the rattles just out of reach this way he can try to move to get them. He loves chewing on them, shaking them, and sometimes just dropping them. It’s great fun to him. Crinkly toys are a godsend. Anything that makes noise or crinkles is a win in Liam's book! We have a few crinkly books and other pieces of cloth with crinkle pieces hidden in them.
I don’t know about your baby, but ours LOVES standing. Now that he’s 5 months, he can use the exersaucer and it’s probably his favorite thing. It has toys all around it, the seat spins, and you can adjust the height of it too, so shorter or taller babies can all enjoy it. Wait until your baby has better head control to use this. I'm unable to find the one we have on Amazon, but here is a very similar one (same brand).
These are the main things that we do that our little one finds fun and stimulating. We are excited for him to start sitting on his own so we can implement more complex toys and activities.