Children's Health and Wellness

Infant Play

What can I do to help promote play in my infant?

While all children are different and may enjoy different toys and interactions, the following are suggestions for activities and toys for the infant:

Birth to 1 month:

  • Hang brightly colored objects near your infant

  • Hang mobiles with high-contrast patterns

What you can do as a parent:

  • Sing and talk to your infant

  • Play music

  • Rock your infant, take him or her for walks

Two woman sitting on a sofa. Each is holding and playing with a baby.

2 to 3 months:

  • Likes bright objects

  • Enjoys pictures and mirrors

  • Likes rattles

  • Enjoys infant swing

  • Enjoys car rides

What you can do as a parent:

  • Sing and talk to your infant

  • Play music

  • Rock your infant, take him or her for walks

4 to 6 months:

  • Likes brightly-colored objects

  • Likes to hold toys

  • Enjoys rattles or bells

  • Likes swings and strollers

What you can do as a parent:

  • Talk to your infant

  • Encourage your infant to crawl and sit by placing him or her on the floor

6 to 9 months:

  • Enjoys large toys with bright colors that move

  • Likes to play peek-a-boo

What you can do as a parent:

  • Call your infant by name

  • Speak clearly to your child and encourage different sounds

  • Name body parts, foods, and people

  • Tell your infant simple commands

  • Play pat-a-cake

  • Begin saying words that tell what you are doing

  • Encourage your infant to crawl by placing toys beyond his or her reach

9 to 12 months:

  • Enjoys looking at books

  • Likes hearing sounds of animals

  • Enjoys large toys that can be pushed and pulled

What you can do as a parent:

  • Take your infant to different places and outings

  • Play ball with your infant

  • Read to your infant

  • Tell your infant names of body parts

Toys for infants:

  • Birth to 6 months:

    • Mobiles

    • Mirrors that will not break

    • Music boxes

    • Bells and rattles

    • Stuffed animals

    • Swings

  • 6 to 12 months:

    • Blocks

    • Brightly colored toys

    • Books

    • Balls

    • Cup and spoon

    • Jack-in-the-box

    • Rattles

    • Teething toys

    • Toys that can be pushed and pulled

Online Source: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Familieshttp://main.zerotothree.org/site/DocServer/stages_of_play_-_6_to_12_months_-_6-15.pdf?docID=13862
Online Source: National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Familieshttp://main.zerotothree.org/site/DocServer/stages_of_play_-_birth_to_six_months_-_6-15.pdf?docID=13865
Online Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/childdevelopment/positiveparenting/infants.html
Online Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/parents_pdfs/milestonemomentseng508.pdf
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatricshttp://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/pages/How-Active-is-Your-Baby.aspx
Online Source: American Academy of Pediatricshttp://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/Pages/Parenting-Your-Infant.aspx
Online Editor: Sims, Jane
Online Medical Reviewer: Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically-affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 4/29/2014
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