Now that you’ve survived the newborn period (hopefully unscathed), it’s time to start preparing for having a more active and engaged baby living in your house.
Newborns may be tough, but they’re also mostly immobile, highly portable, and sleep for 14 hours a day. Having a baby who spends more time needing attention, distraction, and entertainment every day is a whole different ball game.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun! in fact, for many parents (like those who were less than impressed with the exhaustion and monotony of the newborn phase), this is the stage when it starts to feel like you really have a baby—one of those doe-eyed, chubby-cheeked, babbling, drooling, bouncing little ones you’ve heard all about, with toothless smiles and leg rolls for days.
You’ll need to get prepared for this next stage in a way you haven’t prepared before. Luckily, we have everything you need for life with a three to six-month-old baby.
Teethers come in all different shapes, sizes, textures, and temperatures, and you probably won’t know what your baby likes best until you try some out.
Thankfully, you’ll have plenty of opportunities; most babies begin sprouting their first tooth between four and six months old, so this phase is the perfect time to experiment with many kinds of teething toys to find the ones that provide the most comfort for your little one.
What You Need
A selection of teething toys such as:
- 100% BPA-free teethers
- Hard plastic or wooden rings
- Soft textured cloths
- Mesh feeders for frozen foods
- Silicone animals
- Easy-to-grip shapes
Only buy one or two of each style—you won’t know what your baby prefers until you’ve tried a bunch of different kinds, so don’t stock up on anything just yet.
At around five or six months of age, most babies get their first taste of real food. This may be as simple as rice cereal or mashed avocado, but it’s still your baby’s first foray into the world of eating beyond breast milk or formula.
Feeding your baby will get slightly more complicated as you move into the six- to nine-month old stage, but you still need to grab some basic supplies once your baby is no longer a newborn.
Also consider whether you’ve been exclusively breastfeeding and getting ready to head back to work; if you don’t already have bottle feeding supplies, now is the time to choose what you plan to use when you’re away from your baby.
What You Need
- Basic silicone or metal infant spoons: Make sure they are narrow enough for your baby’s small mouth.
- Single serving plastic or glass bowls: These can be used for mixing, heating or chilling, and storing small amounts of food.
- Organic cereal: If you’re planning to offer rice cereal, don’t buy more than one box at a time, since you might find your little one isn’t a fan of (or could even be allergic to) the ingredients in certain brands.
- Bottles: Along with a set of extra nipples, a drying rack, and bottle-cleaning tools.
Your baby is going to spend more time with their eyes open now, checking out the world around them. They are also going to start practicing some preliminary moves like rolling, wiggling, and—eventually—sitting up and crawling.
One of the best things you can have on hand for a baby this age is a way to play and explore semi-independently. An activity gym, whether it’s a floor mat, bouncy seat, or jumperoo, is guaranteed to be one of baby’s favorite places to hang out.
As an added bonus, having a safe place to put your baby and keep them distracted will give you (and your tired arms!) a much-needed break throughout the day, too.
What You Need
You have a lot of options here, and the best one to buy really depends on what kind of personality your baby has:
- Floor mats are great for babies who like to practice tummy time and are always reaching to grab hold of interesting objects.
- Bouncy seats are perfect for babies who want to be with you all the time and like being able to get a good view of their environment.
- Standing gyms are ideal for babies who have good core strength and an urge to kick, dance, and jump.
Your newborn couldn’t see very well and, let’s face it, often didn’t know what was going on around them. But now your four-month-old is really starting to connect with their senses—so they will appreciate toys that stimulate their interests in a variety of ways.
When putting together a collection of toys for your baby, make sure you’re keeping in mind the five senses. You may not be able to check smell or taste off the list, but you can definitely find toys that will engage seeing, hearing, and feeling!
What You Need
Avoid buying large sets of toys that are the same colors, weights, and textures. Mix and match between plastic, wood, and cloth, varying the color palettes and noticing how the toys feel in your hands.
Are they hard and smooth, squishy and bumpy, or soft and fluffy? Your baby doesn’t need a lot of flashing lights and repetitive music, but a few are OK. You can also look for toys that make rattling, shaking, crinkling, and jingling sounds to keep them engaged.
Reading to newborns has been proven to be valuable for developing language and pre-literacy skills, but you probably weren’t getting a lot of feedback from your baby after those bedtime stories.
Now that your baby is growing up, you can really start seeing their interest in books. The easiest way to do this is to simply leave a few lying around in every room; this way, you can offer a book for your baby to hold while you’re changing a diaper, hand them a book to keep them busy in the high chair during dinner, and even throw one in your diaper bag for on-the-go distractions.
Board books are great, but so are cloth books—for this age in particular, cloth books are durable, washable, and hold up to a lot of teething-induced chewing.
What You Need
Look for cloth books that are interactive, one thing that sets them apart from board books for this age group. If your baby can push, pull, squeak, crinkle, and pat different sensory elements in the book, they’re more likely to stay interested in it.
Also try finding books that show your baby different parts of their day—books about food and eating for the high chair, books about bath time in the bathroom, and books about sleeping for the bedroom—to really add value to your shared reading time.
Babies love to gaze at their own reflection in a mirror (even though they won’t know they’re actually looking at themselves until about 18 months!). Still, it’s fun to stare at that “other baby” in there and wonder how and why it moves the way it does.
Many infant toys feature small-scale mirrors for this exact reason, but we think investing in a standalone mirror for your baby is a smart choice at this stage.
What You Need
A mirror designed for babies, made with safe materials (in other words, don’t just put a regular old mirror in your baby’s crib—it could break and cause injury). Many mirrors for babies come with features that allow them to stand on their own, enhancing baby’s tummy time, or attach to the sides of a crib or playpen, so you can move the mirror from one place to another or even adjust the angle.
A Word From Baby Bello
This 3–6 month age is an exciting time for your little one. But don’t get overwhelmed thinking you need to pick up so many new items just to keep them happy. They’ve got the whole world around them to explore too. We hope this list of items gives you good inspiration for keeping your baby entertained and engaged as they keep learning and growing.