Play through the ages: Ages 0 to 6 months

All children develop at their own pace, but there are very important expectations for each age range. Let’s take a look at the development for children ages 0 to 6 months.

Play through the ages: Ages 0 to 6 months

Each and every child goes through development at their own pace and in their own time. No two children develop in the exact same timeframe. In fact, no two children will look alike in the time they take to grow and develop. However, development does have a consistent order for things and there are expectations for the paths all children will take.

In this article, we will discuss developmental milestones and appropriate activities associated with children ages 0 to 6 months. The discussion will revolve around five specific areas of development and fun play activities associated with increasing a child’s skills within these areas. The expectations are listed in appropriate developmental order.

Gross motor development are the large muscle movements of the body. For children ages 0 to 6 months, the developmental expectations include holding the head steady, holding the head up, playing with hands at the middle of the body, rolling over, grabbing at feet and sitting alone for a brief time.

Activities for the 0 to 6 month age range include beginning floor time for short periods during the day, holding and looking at the child while talking to them, playing with the hands and feet (help hands to touch each other and help feet to touch each other), and extending floor time (at around 4-5 months of age) to practice rolling over by using a desired object for the child to turn towards.

Fine motor development are the small muscle movements of the body. For children ages 0 to 6 months, the developmental expectations include hands being open or loosely fisted (the child should not have their hands fisted all of the time), holding a rattle for brief periods, looking at a rattle (once they can hold it consistently), beginning to play with their hands (putting hands together on their own), grabbing at a rattle or small object near them and eventually retaining a rattle in their hands on their own (about 4-5 months).

Activities for the 0 to 6 month age range include rubbing the palm of the child’s hand to initiate the grasping reflex, playing actively with a rattle (place a rattle into the child’s hands so they can grasp), practice grasping with the right and left hands, and encouraging them to reach for objects during floor and tummy time.

Language development is a child’s ability to communicate with others verbally and nonverbally. For children ages 0 to 6 months, the developmental expectations include attending to voices, vocalizing a social response to others (smiling, cooing, oooh’s and ahh’s), attending to voices (looking at others, looking towards voices and sounds), laughing out loud, squealing with pleasure and vocalizing “m-m-m” sounds.

Activities for the 0 to 6 month age range include talking to your child. Talk to them when you are holding them, rocking them or just being near them. Read books aloud (even for babies they get to hear your voice and words as you say them), make cooing and chuckling sounds when interacting with them, let them look at your eyes and face when you talk to them, place their hands on your face when speaking to them, make sure they hear many words in their environment (talk out loud, sing out loud) and don’t be afraid to make silly sounds or speak with silly, made up words.

Social development refers to a child’s ability to interact with their environment and other people. For children ages 0 to 6 months, the developmental expectations include having a social smile, knowing parents from others, vocalizing (ooh’s and ahh’s), mimicking facial expression, using a thumb or pacifier for comfort, looking for contact and being upset when losing contact (being put down).

Activities for the 0 to 6 month age range include holding and talking to your child, looking at their faces and making faces towards them, playing with them in tummy and floor time (get down and look at them face-to-face), putting a mirror in front of them to look at themselves, talking to them (make silly sounds, say fun words, give them your attention through words), mimicking the faces and sounds the child is making, giving them social contact such as hugs, kisses, holding them up and letting them see their world.

Emotional development refers to a child’s ability to express their feelings to others and notice how others are feeling. For children ages 0 to 6 months, the developmental expectations include expressing pleasure and fussiness, showing excitement when they are about to be fed or picked up, showing they are upset when they are not being held, beginning to laugh and showing signs of genuine pleasure.

Activities for the 0 to 6 month age range include initiating contact by holding and comforting the child, playing with them in floor and tummy time, sharing their cues for feeding, discomfort and pleasure with others, talking to them often (say their name, parent’s names, names of those in their environment), helping them to hold a rattle (place a rattle/pacifier in their hand), mimicking their faces, laughing while holding them and having fun while feeding them (repeat a story, sing a song, make silly sounds and do silly motions).

For more information on child development, parenting and school readiness please visit the Family Section on the Michigan State University Extension website.

To learn about the positive impact children and families are experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2016 Impact Reports: “Preparing young children to success” and “Preparing the future generation for success.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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