by: Jennifer Kirkpatrick
Toys do more than just keep babies entertained – they’re extremely important for their mental, physical, intellectual and social development. They are the tools that teach baby about their world and their place in it. They add excitement to learning about life, how things work and how to get along with others. Good toys will give your little one the motivation to play and develop basic skills.
This article provides suggestions on choosing age appropriate toys and activities during baby’s first year. Following these guidelines will help you be continually expanding baby’s horizons and encouraging healthy development.
During the First 3 Months
For the first few months babies do little more than sleep and eat. In fact some sleep as much as 20 hours a day! Make the most of the time they’re awake by choosing toys and nursery accessories that stimulate them and encourage them to use their developing senses.
When playing with a newborn, remember that they see best when objects are about eight inches away from their face. Make sure they can see you by leaning in when talking to them and holding toys close.
At this stage introduce…
- A Mobile: Scientific research has shown that babies who are given appropriate stimulation show sustained developmental advantages over babies in less stimulating environments. Although they won’t be able to focus on the specific shapes hanging from the mobile, babies are fascinated by the movement of a mobile and it encourages skills such as pattern recognition, eye/hand coordination, gross motor activity, and a sense of object permanence. Choose one that plays music and it will do double duty!
- Music: From the time they’re born, babies can hear high pitched noises and are soothed by low pitched noises. Numerous studies have concluded that playing music to babies in the womb and in the early years helps build the neural bridges along which thoughts and information travel. It's known as the Mozart Effect, a theory which is credited with boosting IQ, improving health, strengthening family ties and even producing the occasional child prodigy. It has also been shown that music can also stimulate the brain's alpha waves, creating a feeling of calm.
- Simple Toys: Experts agree that babies get a great deal out of the toys that they can amuse themselves with. They learn many different things through their senses at this time, and through their senses, they discover their world. The most fascinating toys to a baby at this stage are those that make noise, or that use a lot of high contrast black and white, or bright colors such as red and yellow.
3 – 6 Months
By 3 months old baby has discovered her hands - and her mouth. Her fists will uncurl more and she’ll be able to start grasping. She may hold things for a moment and then lift them to her mouth to suck. Almost everything she grabs is likely to end up in her mouth.
During this stage babies also become much more aware of their environment. They respond to tickling, and other games you play with them. Now is the time to start introducing more interactive toys and activities that promote bonding and encourage baby to expand her boundaries.
At this stage introduce…
- Nursing Necklaces: At a few months of age babies start to pinch, and pull at mom during feeding. Nursing necklaces (also called breastfeeding necklaces) give baby something else to hold to prevent mom from being hurt. They also provide baby with visual and tactile stimulation that furthers cognitive development.
- Books: Baby is now able to focus on objects at different distances so it’s a good time to start reading to her. She’ll be able to see the pictures and words on the page and even at this young age will begin to associate words with sounds.
Baby Toys: The Best Choices for Baby’s Development
About The Author
Jennifer Kirkpatrick is the owner of the online baby store, Pipsqueak Boutique. With its unique collection of baby toys, essentials, music and nursery items it’s a one-stop shop for everything baby. To find products that are suitable for every stage of development, visit http://www.pipsqueakboutique.com.