6-12 Month Play Guide
I have been thinking about putting together a Play Guide for a while now, with ideas and links to resources for different ages. It feels like such a huge topic! So I thought I would begin by addressing the 6-12 months stage.
This is a real transitional time for you and your baby. No longer immobile, cooing at soft toys and interesting textures, yet not fully mobile either. It is also an age of huge development. Some babies may be beginning to crawl, others walking, and others just mastering the skill of sitting up independently. They are experimenting with cause and effect - if I push this tower the blocks fall over, or in our case, if I poke this spoon behind the dishwasher it’s gone forever! - and begin to form a real opinion on which toys to reach for on their play mat! Their faces light up when you enter the room and they giggle at familiar faces. They may even be experimenting with their first words! As parents we really begin to reap the rewards from all those hours feeding, long nights of settling, and changing nappies without a lot in return.
Before I move on to some great resources for this age range, lets remember how important communication is with your baby at this stage. All of a sudden we have little people that are responding in some way to everything that we say. Although it may not seem like they are listening in the way we might expect, keep talking to your baby, explain things to them using simple words, describe their emotions to them and give them words for animals, foods and household items. These are the building blocks for good communication. If we expect much from our little ones I really believe we will see the fruit of that in their development, even if its not for months down the track.
So without further ado, here are some links to some learning resources we have used in the Playnest house (or wished we had used!). Most importantly, these are toys I believe will still be of relevance to your child beyond this age and stage. We are all about enduring toys, quality over quantity and less is more!
Blocks: This is the perfect age to introduce a simple collection of wooden blocks to your child. From learning to grip and hold, to stacking and building, blocks are a real staple in your toy collection. I love this set from Brooks Baby and they come with a lovely frame too which adds a puzzle element as your baby grows. An enduring piece for sure! For a great cheap and cheerful option these Kmart blocks are good too. For young babies, try only putting a small selection out at a time - you may observe them beginning to stack for the first time!
Duplo: We absolutely love Lego Duplo. The 5 year olds play with it as intently as the one year olds and for the under ones it is a wonderfully sturdy, easy to click together construction resource. We purchased our first bulk set off Trademe and have added to our collection in time with new, smaller sets. The key is to have a good number of people and animals to animate the play as they grow. A baby between 6-12 months can begin to place blocks together with help and if not, it is fantastic for making towers for younger babies to knock down! At 6 months they may just mouth the pieces but it is a timeless resource that you can grow over the years. This is a great first birthday gift idea for family and friends asking what to buy as it’s available everywhere!
Playnest: It’s probably fairly obvious that I would recommend this, but our Playnests are perfect to introduce at this age if they haven’t got into one already. We have taken the leg work out of sourcing interesting and safe heuristic items for your baby to discover and explore on their own. Again, this is a resources your child will use for the months and years to come!
Scarves: Peek-a-boo is everything to a 6-12 month old baby and scarves are the perfect sensory activity to support this developmental stage. Stuffed into an empty tissue box for pulling out (a whole lot tied together is endless fun!), tied to a chair for pulling on and brushing their hand against, and concealing on finding on their own, scarves are a staple. Older children will use them for imaginative play and dressing up too! Try your local op-shop for a collection of interesting patterns and colours, or invest in some of these beautiful coloured play silks.
Stacking/nesting: A toy that stacks and nests is a must at this age. This is the early stages of puzzling as they observe how one fits into another, or stack on top. These then become wonderful little vessels for collecting, hiding and carrying around the house. This plastic stacker is cheap and great for using in the bath as well as in the playroom. But our favourite is the wooden Grimms Stacker from Little and Loved.
Figurines: Introducing some large (well large for a baby!) plastic or wooden animals are a really good way to start introducing great language with your little ones. Identifying animals that then match up with a favourite book is great for building and reinforcing those connections. You can often find nice big ones at $2 shops if you are looking for something cheap but for a lovely treat for your baby (and you!) these wooden animals from Little and Whimsy are beautiful.
Instruments: Drums, shakers, xylophones, these are all wonderful ways to introduce music making to your wee ones. They demonstrate cause and effect, rhythm and beat and not to forget that instant gratification from making a loud noise! Skip the electronic music makers and buy simple, quality sounding percussion instruments like these ones from Dapper Mr Bear. If you are Wellington based, Moore Wilsons has a small range of percussion instruments too!
Lets not forget the good old formula tin with a hole cut in the top for posting pegs! Some of the best toys are created from observing your baby’s interests and using what you have at home. Get creative!
Phew, thanks for reading along if you got this far! I so hope it was of interest to you and remember, YOU are the most valuable learning resource for you child!