Oh what a fabulous, fabulous age. A 4–6 month old baby is smiling, babbling, making lots of eye contact, and kicking up a storm. I ended up with lots of face-touching, hair pulling (yow!) and kicking during changing. Sigh. Good thing they’re so cute, right?
Do you find yourself doing the same things with your baby every day? Here are some ideas to spice up your quality time with your 4- to 6-month-old cutie bum.
Mix up some homemade finger-paint
Make a few colors using a heaping tablespoon of flour and about two tablespoons of water, plus a drop of food coloring (gel or liquid) for each. Put the paint in baby-safe bowls.
Spread out a drop cloth that you don’t mind getting messy on your kitchen floor, or outside, if weather permits. Lay a large sheet of paper, or a few, in front of baby. (Hint: you could use that gift wrap that you’ve had for ages and never actually wrap presents with—just turn it over to the white side!)
Put your baby in just a diaper and let them put their fingers (or feet!) in the paint and explore what happens when they touch the paper. Let them have fun mixing colors. You may have to get them started just a tad, but they will soon figure out that painting is super fun. And it will help develop their fine motor skills, as well as teach them how colors mix and blend to create new shades and colors. You could also pre-place dots of the paint on the paper, and have them use their fingers to swirl and mix it.
While you’re at it, you could help baby make handprints on card stock or any nice paper you have on hand, and you could mail these, perhaps along with a photo, or maybe just with a note from you, to any loved ones who you do not get to see often. The teeny tiny handprint will surely make them smile, and your baby will have fun making them!
Encourage your baby to touch plants and trees
Yep, in your yard, around the block, or at the park. Nature can be very calming for babies. They can grow agitated and whiny after too long indoors, but I know I can consistently break that mood by simply taking mine outside. But more than that, it’s fun to hold them up and watch them run their fingers across various (SAFE) leaves or the bark of trees. [Disclaimer: if you aren’t sure about a plant, skip it.]
And that’s it! Touching plants. Sounds simple, and it is. It’s also completely free. It’s more about taking the time to purposefully do this. Strap your baby on in a front-facing baby carrier and start walking around. Tell him or her the names of the plants/bushes/trees he’s touching as he explores them. Point out the colors—okay there’s mostly green—but perhaps pinks, whites, or reds of flowers.
If a flower has a nice smell I lean in close enough where she can smell it. In N.C. we have Magnolia trees, which have very large thick white flowers that smell (to me) like sweet tea. I bend the branches I can reach down for her to smell. Who wouldn’t be at ease wandering around exploring plants and flowers?
You can really do this at any age; however, around 4-5 months was when mine really started to enjoy grasping the leaves and seemed interested enough to “study” them.
Put on a puppet show
You’d be surprised how interested babies this age are in a puppet show. I got this idea from the Netflix documentary Babies. In one episode in Season 2, the researchers use a puppet show to test the babies’ psychological responses to the puppets they felt were more similar or dissimilar to them. (Interesting!)
Anyway, as it happened, I had a set of adorable knit finger puppets that I got at a yard sale ($1 for 10!) before my daughter was born. There’s a hummingbird, a vulture, a giraffe, a monkey, and some others.
I didn’t do anything fancy. I just sat her on the floor (she could sit up by herself at this age) and sat across from her, with an accent pillow propped up against my legs, and I let the puppets on my fingers show above the pillow.
Boy, did she love them! I was surprised, but I got actual giggles just from a simple (read: pretty inane because this was spur-of-the-moment stuff!) routine where the various animals “made friends,” then one ducked down to hide while the other wasn’t looking and left the other calling “Hello? Where did you go?!”
… I’m sure your story arc will be much more refined.
Point being, it doesn’t take much, and when a baby finds something interesting, they will often go on and on giggling about it as you do it over, and over…and over. Cherish that! I am sure she won’t be too keen on my worn-out antics the older she gets.
Your baby will be captivated by your singing (even if you don’t sound so great). On top of singing, include some movements to go along with the lyrics. There are many baby songs that we all know and love such as “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” and The song “Hurry, Hurry, Drive the Firetruck” is wonderful for motions that you can help your baby do along with the song. Not familiar with the song? It’s an easy one. Check it out with simple motions here.
Another great song that is interactive with your baby is “The Farmer’s Horse.” For this song, baby sits on your lap while you bounce your knees up and down to imitate each type of horse you sing about. Here is how it goes:
The farmer’s horse goes oh-ee-oh, oh-ee oh (bounce legs together up and down in a drowsy, lolloping manner)
The lady’s horse goes clip, clop, clip, clop! (bounce legs one side at a time in a small, crisp manner)
The gentleman’s horse goes trot, trot, trot, trot! (bounce legs together in a strong, crisp manner)
But [your baby’s name]’s horse goes gallopy, gallopy, gallopy, GALLOP! (bounce legs in an exaggerated galloping or wild manner)
Play a game of “pop-up” behind your couch
Think whack-a-mole, except there’s no whacking, and the mole is you.
Okay, nevermind on the whack-a-mole image. This is simple. Set your baby up on one side of your couch (or, alternatively, your kitchen island) and you go to the other. Play a giant game of peek-a-book where you pop up and say “boo!” (or whatever). Except tease them by popping up in a different spot each time.
Pop out from the right side of the couch, down low. Then pop up high from the center of the couch. Then emerge slowly with a smile from the left side. My daughter loved this game. She was surprised and thrilled each time I appeared. So fun and so simple. Plus, you get a good workout in too—because squatting and popping up over and over ain’t easy on the quads, y’all.
I hope you enjoy trying some of these activities with your little one!