It would be easy to spend a fortune on noisy plastic toys (we have a few) but I'm really keen for a good deal of Matilda's play to be active and to get her interacting with the real world.
There has been some googling and there have been some lightbulb moments and there has been a bit of copying what we do at Matilda's assorted baby groups and classes (more on those another day) but we've managed to figure out a pretty decent list of ways to entertain a five or six month old baby.
Here are Matilda's current favourite activities (besides watching Charlie and Lola):
Bouncing on my yoga ball
Whether in a seated position or sprawled on her belly as if she's flying, she loves this. I'm so glad I didn't get round to deflating it a couple of months ago. I also have a small (bowling ball sized) exercise ball which she likes to wave about and to lean over while she investigates other things.
Have scarves, muslins or any other wafty pieces of fabric waved above her
I think she likes the floaty movements and the breeze; friends at her rhythm and movement class have called this "Matilda catnip" because she can go from utter sleepy disinterest to a squealing blur of excited baby in seconds if she so much as catches a glimpse of a scarf.
Patting Mirror Matilda
Babies are little narcissists. Pop them in front of their own reflection or show them a photo or video of themselves and they're all smiles. I've yet to meet an exception to this rule. Matilda is also quite fond of Mirror Mum and Dad.
We have a baby yoga book which I got secondhand for a bit of a laugh - turns out Matilda loves doing all the exercises with me.
Grabbing fistfuls of garden herbs
There are enormous rosemary and lavender bushes in our downstairs neighbour's garden and, ever since I let Matilda smell them, she has been intent on shoving them in her mouth. We've had a lot of fresh rosemary on our food lately thanks to her snapping off branches. She also loves sitting on the lawn/in the park and pulling up clumps of grass.
Any new textures
Woolly blankets, bubble wrap, the bumps on the bottom of the shower tray - all fascinating. I walk around the flat looking for new things for her to touch (whilst preventing her from grabbing Polly's tail).
Chewing wooden spoons
While Steve and I eat lunch, at the weekend, Matilda sits in her high chair with random objects on the table in front of her. She's pretty interested in balls and toy cars and jar lids and board books (for chewing on, not for reading) but wooden spoons are the clear winner - perfect for chomping on, hugging, banging things with and poking dangerously close to her eyes.
Poking dangerously close to eyes in general
Not just her own. She has recently discovered other people's faces and loves to grab handfuls of cheek, neck and nose.
See also: 5 things we could learn from babies, why we need to stop calling happy people "smug" and 31 things to do which won't make you feel bad about yourself.