Babies learn and develop by playing, so it’s important to give you and your baby plenty of playtime. You can use things around the house to play with, or choose toys suited to your baby’s personality. Babies don’t understand danger, so they need you to keep them safe by moving things out of reach, or protecting them with guards, safety catches and plugs.
Your baby will enjoy:
being held and talked to, and listening while you talk, sing, read, and repeat nursery rhymes
being shown things like books and pictures
looking at themselves in the mirror
grasping your hair and face
playing peek-a-boo games or watching you hide a toy and then finding it themselves
playing with plastic containers, blocks, plastic cups, pots and pans
lying on the floor, learning to roll and move—place bright things nearby to encourage them to move toward them, and roll balls and toys back and forth to encourage their eye movement.
going with you on walks and to meet people
feeling different textures and watch light and water
crawling on the grass or lie under a tree
dancing in your arms as you gently spin.
Your baby will enjoy toys that can be used in different ways. Toys can develop a baby’s skills, encourage imagination, and help them learn about sound, touch, and how things work. You can help your baby by choosing toys that suit their age, stage of development, and personality. Toys that are too complex are frustrating, while toys that are too simple can be boring.
To keep your baby safe, check that toys are not too small—they need to be larger than a table tennis ball. Also check that pieces cannot be broken, chewed, or pulled off.
At 4–8 months your baby may enjoy playing with toys that:
they can reach, grasp, and chew on, as they learn about size, shape, taste, and texture by putting things in their mouth
make noises such as rattles and squeaky toys
hang and move above them.
At 8–12 months you baby may enjoy playing with toys that they can:
put inside one another, like blocks that stack in and out of plastic containers or pots and pans
move or pull along
chase after, like a rolling ball
watch, such as bubbles.
Toy libraries provide a toy-hire service for a small cost. Plunket staff can tell you where your local toy library is, or you can locate one using our Plunket Near You tool.
Bath time is a lovely time for your baby to be washed, and to play and relax. Most babies enjoy splashing, floating, and playing with safe toys.
But don’t leave a child under 5 alone in or around water. An adult (or teenager over 14 years old) should be with your baby any time your child is in the bath.
Read more about bathing safely.
When your baby is around 6 months old, try taking them to a public swimming pool. Your baby will probably have a lot of fun at the pool, but make sure they don’t dunk under the water too often—you don’t want them to swallow too much water! You can buy special disposable nappies or togs to contain any poos your baby does.
Read more about water confidence.