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Tummy time is super important for them developmentally! At this age they can start playing with their toys, reaching for toys, and rolling over. There are lots of fun playmats with hanging toys and toys on the floor. One of our favorites is this piano tummy time mat that both of my children love. It can play songs and light up for them to watch, there are hanging toys for when they start trying to reach toys, and the piano can be played by kicking or slapping it. There are playmats with toys on the ground too, and this one with a mirror for them to look at themselves. There are also water mats with toys that move when they play with it which can make tummy time more entertaining (You could also make your own out of ziploc bags, and when they’re a little bigger and can grab things, you can make sensory bottles too.)
I love this age of 5 months because they either have been or will soon start reaching for and holding toys. My best friend just got us a bin of foam building toys, and my son loves to hold the little foam cylinders that connect blocks. He is just as entertained as my toddler is while stacking the blocks! It’s super helpful that they can hold their own toys around 5 months because this is a common time to be teething and they can help alleviate their own discomfort with various teething toys (I have a post on teething tips here).
Just so you are aware, some walkers aren’t considered safe anymore. However, you can still place baby in a jumper, bouncer, or activity center. Some jumpers hang in doorways if you don’t have a lot of floor space to dedicate to these toys. I have found these are great entertainment places for my babies, and gives me time to do a chore or go to the bathroom. It is also a safe place for them to stay once they are crawling and need to be constantly supervised. My daughter ended up with two different ones between her baby shower and hand-me-downs. My son got a separate hand-me-down from our local Buy Nothing group. There are some made for bouncing, and generally have toys in every direction so they can turn themselves toward different toys.
Read Books Together
Reading has been shown to be super important for our babies, and starting out this young can be beneficial for them. I try to keep a few books in every room the baby and I hang out in during the day. Since he doesn’t have favorites yet, he just sits and listens to whichever book my toddler picks out. Even if he’s not looking at the book, it’s still good for his language development to be read out loud to. He is starting to grab the book and try to turn the pages like he sees big sister do. Here is a post with my reading with baby tips written about more in-depth, and our favorite lift-the-flap books.
Music, Songs, and Hand Motions
Babies love music and motion. When my nephew was six months old, he started doing some local music classes that I joined in with my 16-month-old daughter. Even though he couldn’t participate the way my daughter could, he absolutely loved them. We did clapping songs, songs with noise-making toys, songs we sang to, songs we danced to, and songs we bounced to with our babies in our laps. My daughter also loves doing old Sunday School and nursery rhyme songs with hand motions.
Talk Talk Talk
It’s super important for our little ones’ language development to hear language. You can introduce them to multiple languages (I’m introducing English and a little bit of Spanish that I know), and even sign language (sign as you say the word; signing helps them communicate with you before they can speak clearly). You can introduce them to language through talking or singing, but I have seen studies that conclude that children pick up language much better from in-person communication than from a screen watching shows.
Go on Walks
Especially during this time, it’s great to get outside into the fresh air and give baby a different experience. They can see a little bit of the wold, but you also don’t have to deal with the carseat or figuring out where to go, or packing and bringing a diaper bag. If something happens, you can just turn and head home. I like to bring a swaddle for spit up and keeping them warm, and find toys unnecessary as the scenery is entertaining enough.
Make fingerpaint crafts
Our 5-month-olds are a little young to be doing their own fingerpaint artwork (it’s likely to end up in their mouth) but their handprints and footprints are super cute and it can be good sensory exploration for them. I like to use this washable fingerpaint. There are lots of different animals and shapes you can turn handprints and footprints into, and just leaving them as plain handprints and footprints is cute too. These also make great gifts for relatives, and there’s lots of holiday-themed ideas for fingerpaint crafts as well. If you aren’t in the mood for a messy activity, you can also put dots of paint on paper in a closed ziploc bag. Baby can mess the paint around all they want, but it stays in the bag and you have a piece of art when they’re finished. Pinterest has a ton of inspiring handprint art, but I especially love making ornaments out of them.
Go new places
There are so many places you can go visit that will be a fun experience for your little one, and good for giving you a change of scenery and out of your house too. With my first, we went somewhere almost every day. We visited grandparents and relatives, did storytime at the local city library, and went to a weekly baby music class. We also loved visiting Disneyland, and went to the zoo and the aquarium as well. A lot of places also offer mommy and me classes where you can do arts and crafts, music, or exercise with your child. Even though they are super young, they can still enjoy a new place and be exposed to different sights, sounds, and smells. They should have a more predictable schedule now than when they are newborns, and you can work around their naps. These are also great places to meet and hang out with mommy and baby friends!
Sit them up to watch you cook and do chores
If baby needs entertainment or wants to always be with you, you can put them in a chair, bouncer, or jumper in the kitchen to watch you! This way you can still get your to-do list done, and they are entertained at the same time. My babies also did tummy time while I folded laundry next to them, and watched me vacuum from their jumper. The only chore I don’t do with them is clean the bathroom because I don’t want them to breathe in those chemicals. If their high chair is in the kitchen, you can use that, and they also make jumpers that hang in the door frame if you don’t have much floor space. Once they can stand, you can also use a learning tower so they can watch and participate in kitchen activities with you (my daughter loves to wash dishes with me).