Choosing the right baby toy is an important decision for anyone with a baby. Things to take into consideration are the age of the baby and the developmental level of the baby, as well as safety issues regarding the toy. Most toys serve a purpose other than just pacifying your baby. The majority of toys on the market are specifically designed to enhance learning and development. For example, toys for babies are packed full of sensory experiences so that the baby can learn how to process sensory information and learn from their experiences with the toy. In fact, besides stimulating the baby visually, this sensory awareness is the most important thing a toy can create for a baby.
Your toy will be explored with the mouth
Babies learn from using their senses to explore the environment, which is why all babies at one stage of development, put everything into their mouths. Baby toys are designed to allow this behavior and actually promote it by adding interesting textures to the parts of toys that will automatically be put in the baby’s mouth as exploration. This teaches the baby about different textures and how to process the sensory input orally. Toys for babies also appeal to their auditory awareness by making some kind of noise to stimulate the baby to learn from the environment using auditory processing. The same can be said for toys that have bright contrasting colors in order to help the baby learn how to process visual stimuli.
Toys for babies are also intended to teach the baby that they have an impact on their environment and cause things to happen. Toys achieve this by activating or doing something when the baby shakes, pokes, rolls or touches the toy. This is called cause and effect and it is one of the main ways babies learn that they are actually a part of the environment and then they can begin to explore it because they know they have an impact on it. These are some of the things parents should look for when purchasing toys. Parents should ask themselves what ways the baby will learn and benefit from the toy. All toys should teach the baby something and not just be used to keep them quiet!
When your baby is still young, velcro wrist rattles are great for getting the baby to explore their hands and feet. You can velcro the soft rattles around the feet to get the baby to start exploring more of their body parts. Rattles that babies can hold in their tiny fists are also good toys because they can shake them to make noise and learn how to make sounds. Another good toy for a baby is a tactile rattle or tactile toy. This is a toy that has a variety of mouthable surfaces for babies to explore with their tongue. For example, a rattle that is made out of knobbly plastic at one end and ridged plastic at the other. Tactile cubes are great for babies to learn how to begin stacking things on top of each other. They come in all shapes and sizes these days. Nesting cups and nesting cubes are great for babies to play with and begin learning how to put things inside of each other. Another great invention is like a shape sorter except it only has an opening where the baby drops round balls into it. All babies like to drop things into containers. Then when the baby gets a little older they can progress to a shape sorter toy and learn to match shapes with the corresponding holes. A ring stacker is also a wonderful learning tool for hand-eye coordination and learning the size of things. Toys with bright stimulating colors or lights are good for babies to learn how to track objects with their eyes. But make sure all toys have no small parts that can be accidentally swallowed.
Books are also good for starting to read to your baby at an early age and point out different objects on the pages. It is never too early to promote good language skills. Tactile books are very good sources of learning for babies because they provide tactile stimulation attached to the pictures of objects in the books. For example, a picture of a dog would have fur attached; a picture of a car has a piece of rubber attached for the tire. The baby can feel the textures while looking at the pictures and listening to parents name the objects all at the same time. The best books for babies are simple books with one or two everyday objects on a page where parents can point and name them to the baby. At this age, they aren’t interested in hearing a long drawn out story or seeing printed words on the page with complicated illustrations. Once your baby is beginning to walk, there are different walker toys that help the baby balance while walking along behind the toy. These types of toys promote gross motor skills and help the baby learn to walk. There are also toys that have doors that are opened when the baby flicks a switch, pushes a button, or spins a wheel. These are the types of cause and effect toys mentioned earlier.
A toy doesn’t have to cost anything
Any toy can be a learning experience for a baby as long as someone is there to model the appropriate behavior when interacting with the toy and showing the baby what is expected and what is supposed to be done with the toy. Toys don’t always have to be expensive or even bought at the store in order to be good toys that promote learning. Pots and pans and other household items make great toys just like the store bought ones. Parents can teach babies what to do with the pots and pans by banging them together, putting them inside one another and stacking them up. Babies can learn from just about anything in their environment as long as it is safe for their age and supervised by a parent.
- DIY Baby and Toddler Sensory Boards – Fun at Home with Kids (apartmenttherapy.com)
- Tips For Choosing The Best Baby Toys (lamazebabytoys.wordpress.com)