When Do Babies Start Playing With Toys?
In your baby’s first months, the only toy they’ll need is you! When they do become curious of the world around them however, they will see everything as a toy!
Here’s what you should know prior when your child starts playing with toys.
When do babies start playing with toys?
Between 3-6 months old, your baby will start showing interest in their toys, such as rolling a ball, knocking over building blocks, or cuddling with a teddy. By 9 months, they may have established their favourite one, and will engage more in play, such as looking for toys you hide from them.
It is important to keep in mind that all children will be different, so don’t worry if your baby hasn’t shown interest in the same things as others yet; they will eventually. Baby development is such a varied and immeasurable thing at times. Babies can seem like they are making no progress, then suddenly start to change overnight. Skills come in very quickly and before you know it they are surpassing expectations.
Newborn babies can only see things up to 12 inches away from them, so to them the most interesting thing in the world is probably your face when you’re holding them!
The most important thing to know is that your baby learns from their senses, like touch and hearing, so holding them and talking to them can help stimulate their curiosity. The toys you give your baby at this stage should have bright, contrasting colours, and be made of interesting fabrics and textures.
You could hold the toy above their face and move it side to side, so they’ll follow it with their eyes. A moving object like this can really stimulate their senses.
Another great play idea is tummy time - lay your baby down on their stomach, which will help them build up their muscles in their arms and legs. This encourages their eventual ability to roll over of their own accord and to develop and strengthen their neck muscles too.
Why not check out our Millie & Ralph blog recommendations for more expert tips, advice and ideas.
4 to 6 months
At this age, your baby will have more control over their arms and legs, so will be able to pick up and play with more toys than before. It is important to try and develop your child’s fine motor skills.
Babies will still have the instinct to curl their fingers around anything that gets placed in their hands, so encouraging them to pick up their toys helps develop and improve their fine motor strength. You could model to them picking up a rattle and shaking it, then place it in their hand and encourage them to do the same.
Learning this behaviour now will help them be able to do other tasks that involve fine motor skills later in their life. This can include tasks like holding a pen or a spoon.
6 to 12 Months.
As your baby grows up, they will be even more interested in different types of toys, and will most likely see everything around them as something to play with! Babies this age tend to love cardboard boxes, cooperative play such as peekaboo or
They’ll start ‘cruising’ - walking along whilst holding on to something, and may even take their first steps. They’ll also start to understand object permanence, the concept that when something disappears from their line of vision, it’s not gone for good. Towards 9 months, you can give your baby toys that encourage problem solving, such as brightly coloured shape sorters, simple puzzles, stacking toys and puppets!
Though they’ll be growing up fast, your baby will still be entertained by their toys from before, like their soft toys and board books. Slowly introduce other reading options such as picture books. Opening and closing books and getting used to turning pages can also improve their motor skills drastically in a short period of time.
If you join your local library too, you can change up the variety of books your baby sees, so they never get bored of the same titles. This can also encourage literacy from a young age as they get used to consuming books for fun.
Introducing pretend play and imaginative play is also a way to stimulate their brain and their creativity skills, such as play food, and toy shopping trolleys or tools. Don’t forget that household items can be repurposed as toys - wooden spoons and plastic cups always go down well! Pay attention to which toy your baby favours and encourage them to seek new ways of playing with it.