What Age Is The
Right Age For Play?

Babies start to play a lot earlier than you may realize. Just because a baby can’t run after her sister or stack blocks doesn’t mean she isn’t capable of her own type of play. During the first 6 months of your baby’s life, the ways in which she can play change dramatically. Read on to find out some of the earliest ways they play, as well as the ages you can expect some of it to happen.

Mom holding baby

2 months

At about 2 months old, your baby can smile at you. This means when you make those silly faces and funny noises, you may start to get a reaction. This is your little one's first attempt at socializing, and in a way it's her first form of play. It's really more you playing while she watches, but she's still enjoying herself. So go ahead Mom: keep making a fool out of yourself -- she'll have a ball just watching you do it.

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Sometime between 2 and 3 months, your baby will also find her hands. She may not be able to hold toys with them yet, but at this point she doesn't need to. Your baby will be content to look at her hands and watch as they move. She'll probably also stick them in her mouth and practice opening and closing her palms.

3 months

At 3 months old, your baby is starting to be a lot more aware of the world around her. She's starting to recognize people and react when you enter the room. She's also starting to process some of the things you say, even though she won't be able to say anything herself for quite some time. Read to your baby and take time to say the name of everyday objects. It may seem useless now, but she's storing it all up for later.

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Your baby is also starting to perfect her hand-eye coordination, so now is a good time to break out the toys. Hold bright toys in front of her and see if she'll grab for them. You can also place objects in her hands and encourage her to play.

4 months

At around 4 months old, your baby will start to see the world from a new angle -- the right one! She should be able to spend a lot of time on her stomach, and will probably even start to roll over at this stage. Because she's not spending all of her time on her back, she can interact with new toys. Use activity mats or unbreakable mirrors to hold your baby's attention while she's on her tummy. She'll also start to play with these toys on her own at this stage. This means that you may have a little time to yourself -- even if it's just a few minutes!

She'll probably start blowing raspberries around this time, too. This is her first attempt at language and can be a whole lot of fun for you both. Make the sound at her and she'll do it right back -- an act which you'll both find hilarious!

5 months

At around 5 months, your baby will be able to sit up on her own. This will open up a whole new world of play because she's now able to sit up and interact with toys. Place a toy in front of her or in her lap and show her how it works. Babies at this age love toys they can pound (like baby pianos) or anything that lights up and makes noise. She'll find a whole new love for all those noisy rattles.

5 months is also the age when babies start to learn cause and effect. They quickly figure out that if they drop something it falls. This leads to tons of laughter from your baby -- and lots of messes for you to clean up!

6 months

Look out! Here she comes! At around 6 months of age, your baby may start trying to crawl. Once that happens, anything close to the floor is fair game, so it's time to start moving breakables to high places if you haven't already.

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She'll also start to pick up items at this stage, but she'll do it with more of a raking motion. Set a toy just within her reach and encourage her to try to pick it up.

You'll also notice that your baby's babbling picks up dramatically. She may start to copy one syllable sounds you make, and will be thrilled if you listen intently to her babble and even ask her questions once she's done. Just try it once -- you won't believe it when you get a response!

Tip

Every baby learns at his own pace, so don't stress if yours doesn't match up to this guide exactly. If you think your baby may have a serious developmental issue, talk with your pediatrician.

More on your baby's development

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Learning styles
Brain games for babies

Tags: baby stages


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