Your baby is probably getting quite mobile now – able to roll over and wiggle away from you at a nappy change time! They may even have begun crawling. They can sit up, which is introducing them to a whole new way of playing. Here, we go through the key pieces of the baby play equipment that your 6-month-old baby may enjoy.
Once your baby can hold their head up comfortably, it may be worth considering an activity centre, also known as an activity station or entertainer. These are usually recommended until your baby is walking.
An activity centre can have a seat in the middle, similar in design to a walker, but in a fixed point. However, the seat rotates 360 degrees, and there are various different toys fixed around the centre to keep your baby amused.
These are great safe play spaces for your baby, but do take up a fair amount of room. However, if you want to get things done, it might be a good alternative to a playpen.
Your baby is probably rolling around by now or maybe even starting to crawl. To encourage this, and to give your baby a safe space to play in, a playmat is a good buy.
Some are elaborate, with toys, lights and sounds, while others are a simple mat for your baby to sit and lie on while they play with their toys.
It’s worth getting one that’s machine washable so you can keep it clean easily as it’s going to be on the floor. Also consider the size of the mat – if you don’t have much floor space you might want to keep it on the smaller size, but on the other hand it’s not much fun if your baby can roll off it in one move. You might also like to consider a playmat you can use outside if you have a garden or like to hit the park often – look for one with water-proof backing or one that’s really easy to wash.
Until your baby is crawling, a play gym is brilliant way to strengthen their muscles.
Usually an arch attached to a soft playmat, a play gym has toys dangling from it to keep your baby entertained. The toys are normally simple items like mirrors, rattles and soft animals or shapes. Some may make a noise when your baby manages to hit them to act as an incentive to get them to reach out.
However, a play gym may not keep a baby who can already roll themselves over entertained for long, so it might be worth looking at some other options, such as a play nest or playmat, if you’re planning on making an investment buy.
At 6 months, most babies are learning to, or already can, sit unaided. A play nest really comes into its own during this stage, as it encourages your baby to sit and provides support to their growing back muscles.
Most play nests are inflatable, with toys that attach to the sides to keep your baby entertained while they are in there. Your baby can also lay on the edge of the ring to encourage tummy time.
As your baby should now be able to support their own head, you may want to consider a door bouncer.
These suspended seats hang from a door frame in your home and allow your baby to bounce themselves lightly, similar in design to a bungee cord. It encourages strength in their legs and allows them to stay upright so they can see what’s going on in the world around them.
It might get a bit annoying, having something constantly hanging in a doorway when it’s not in use, so make sure you can detach it easily yourself. Also make sure you check the instructions and follow the advice on what kind of door frame is suitable to hang it from, and up to what baby weight it can handle.
A walker is one of the more controversial products designed to encourage your baby to walk unaided. Most walkers are suitable from around 6 months, or when your baby is able to sit unaided. They provide a seat and frame with wheels, so your baby is supported, but uses their own feet to move the walker. Most also have play trays or toys and lights on to entertain your child.
Some say baby walkers ideal for encouraging your baby to take their own weight, but others say they hinder development because they stop your baby exploring their environment naturally.
This is really a judgement call for you to make – if you live in a house with a lot of flat and even surfaces for your baby to roam, a walker may be ideal. However, if you have steps or different levels, it may be more trouble than it’s worth. You baby can be injured if they end up going down a step in a walker – the walker can topple with your baby in it. Either way, it’s important to make sure that your baby isn’t left on their own in the walker.
Activity play tables with removable legs
Usually, an activity play table is best suited to babies from 12 months of age, but if the legs can be taken off, the table top can used on the ground for floor play from a younger age.
The table’s surface can boast a huge range of interactive elements, from press buttons that make sounds, beads to move or shapes to sort. Just like many other toys and games do, these activities can help your baby develop motor skills and learn about things such as cause and affect, shapes or sounds.