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8 best toys for 6-month-old babies that'll help them learn and develop

Kate Ward
Nov. 14, 2018

Your 6-month-old is halfway through her first year and is quickly making the transition from newborn to older baby. By 6 months old, babies are becoming more and more interested in the world around them and are eager to interact with it. As your baby begins to get more adept at sitting and making her way through physical, emotional and cognitive milestones at a rapid pace, toys and interactive play will have a major impact on her development.

“Play is important to babies because it is through play that they learn about the world around them,” says Kathleen Alfano, child development and play specialist. “For babies, play is observing, exploring, experimenting and discovering. While playing, babies develop and practice intellectual, social and physical skills.”

Kayla O’Neill, a developmental therapist who specializes in baby and toddler development, agrees that free play is an important component in your baby’s development and says that play encourages growth in an organic and fun way.

“Play is the most natural way for babies to learn,” says O’Neill. “When engaged in play, babies participate in repeated practice of skills without even realizing they are doing it.”

O’Neill says play is vital no matter which skill your baby is learning, as it helps to keep him interested as he learns.

“Play will naturally motivate your baby to keep practicing and master skills, all while having fun,” she says.

There are more and more toy options available to parents every day, and choosing the right toys for your 6-month-old baby can be overwhelming. To help narrow the field, we asked O’Neill for her top picks for toys that will help your baby develop important skills while playing.

1. Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Snap Lock Beads

Good for: developing fine motor skills

Fine motor skills involve the coordination and use of very small muscles such as those found in your baby’s hands and wrists. Babies can develop their fine motor skills by playing with toys that they are able to grasp, push, pull and manipulate with their hands.

“Pop beads are a versatile toy that allows babies to learn how to grasp, bring a toy to their mouth, pull and push,” O’Neill says. “Babies love to play with them and they are small enough to toss in a diaper bag while on the go.”

2. ALEX Discover My Busy Town Wooden Activity Cube

Good for: developing gross motor skills

Gross motor skills involve the coordination of baby’s larger muscles, including the legs, arms and torso. Toys that encourage development of gross motor skills usually encourage babies to move around into different positions while playing.

O’Neill loves activity cubes because they allow babies to move around as they explore the toy.

“Activity Cubes work perfect for enhancing gross motor skills because they encourage babies to play in multiple positions such as on their tummy, sitting and standing with support,” she says.

3. Sprout Ware Stacking Cups

Good for: developing object permanence

Object permanence is the skill that enables your baby to recognize that objects, such as a favorite toy or mom and dad, still exist even if they are out of his sight. Babies begin to develop this skill around 5 months old, and it’s why a game of peek-a-boo is always a big hit with babies this age. Toys that involve hiding will help to develop this skill.

“Having a set of stacking cups can be helpful when teaching your baby object permanence,” O’Neill says. “Use the the cups to hide smaller toys under them or inside.”

4. Pop-Up Pals by Battat

Good for: developing cause and effect

Cause and effect is simply the ability for your baby to understand that doing one thing results in something else happening. Babies begin to develop this skill around 5 months old and it’s why your baby may start to become amused by dropping a spoon or toy just to watch you pick it up. Toys that include things your baby can push, pull or turn to make something else happen in response are ideal for developing this skill.

“Pop-up toys help your baby learn that if you push a button, pull a lever, or turn a knob something happens,” O’Neill says. “This toy is simple but very motivating to babies as they learn how the world works.”

5. Who Wears What? Touch & Feel Learning Toy Board Book by Bendon

Good for: encouraging speech and language development

As excited as parents may be to hear their baby’s first word, all babies develop their language and speech skills at their own pace. That said, doing certain things like talking to your baby often throughout the day and reading to him will help encourage the development of language skills.

Board books are the perfect toy for encouraging language development.

“Sitting down with a board book allows your baby to grow their receptive language skills every time you label a picture,” O’Neill says. “If you take their hand and show them how to point to the pictures labeled they are sharpening their expressive language skills.”

6. O Ball 1-Piece Rattle & Roll Car

Good for: developing cognitive skills

Cognitive skills help your baby begin to understand how to learn and solve problems. Toys that encourage cognitive development focus on imaginary play and help them begin to process information, reason and to express emotion.

“Baby push cars open the door to imaginary play which is crucial for cognitive development,” O’Neill says. “Your baby also learns cause and effect as they give their car a push to make it go. You can easily work on following directions and simple commands with your baby during car play as you use target words such as ‘stop’ and ‘go.’”

7. Infantino Textured Multi Ball Set

Good for: sensory play and development

Sensory play includes anything that helps develop your baby’s senses, including touch, smell and taste. These senses help your baby explore the world around him. Toys with different textures are ideal for sensory play.

“Textured balls are great for babies because they can explore them using their hands and mouths,” O’Neill says.

Designed to promote tactile development and sensory exploration, this set includes balls made of different textures, shapes and sizes.

8. Sassy Floor Mirror

Good for: developing social skills

Social skills are what enable us to easily interact with other people and read and interpret communication. Babies begin developing these social skills at birth and continue to grow them as their worlds expand. Toys that encourage your baby to observe human behavior are perfect for developing her social skills.

Floor mirrors are a time-honored favorite for developing social skills.

“Mirror play allows your baby to become more self aware,” O’Neill says. “They can spend time looking at their favorite baby in the mirror and discovering what they look like and how they move.”

Read next: The best toys for 9-month-old babies

Comments
Emily in New York, NY
Oct. 17, 2017

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