Baby Toys: Everything you need to know about them

Play is a crucial aspect in infants’ lives. It does not only encourage them to develop their mental and physical abilities but also to forge strong bonds with the people they play. By playing, children start to make sense of the world around them and they learn about interpersonal communication, respect and fair play.

However, choosing a toy for your newborn might not be as simple as it seems to be. It is paramount that you find toys and games suitable for your child’s developmental level. If not, he will become frustrated and give up. But, how do you choose? 

Why are baby toys important for their development?

Babies are generally willing to understand the world around them and to learn about it. For them, everything is new: textures, colors, sounds and shapes. Therefore, it is essential to provide babies with experiences that stimulate them to find out their senses. Toys are perfect for this. 

For infants, rattles and toys which have music are very useful as well as toys with contrasting colours which are highly stimulating for the vision. To build their motor skills, blocks are ideal. As children grow up, they can play with toys that allow them to experience with object constancy.  

During the first twelve months, babies know the world through sensory experiences and manipulating objects.  Through trial and error, they understand how the world works but it takes them some time. They explore the world by touching objects with their fingers, mouths and tongues. 

At this stage, they are able to recognize contrasting colours although their vision is not fully developed. In addition, they cannot bring back complete memories so they are just glad to repeat the same thing again and again. Object permanence is also acquired during this stage. It refers to the ability to know that an object exists even though it is not seen, heard, touched or smelled (sensed.)

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What do they want according to their age?

Depending on the age of the baby, they will need and want different types of toys. For example, babies below 1 year of age are trying to learn and get to know everything that surrounds them. For that to happen, they use their senses (smell, sight, touch). When they are very young (a couple of months old), they do not have a lot of motor skills. This means they cannot move so much, and cannot grab things on their own. That’s why their more active senses are their sight and hearing. 

When it comes to colors, babies are especially attracted to bright ones, without complicated designs. Toys that come with sound will also be nice for them. For example, a mobile you can hang on the baby’s crib will be very useful to keep him busy. 

The most important thing is that they cannot reach it. If not, it can be dangerous for them. The recommended distance from the eyes is 14 inches. Be careful to modify it or even take it away from the crib as soon as your baby is able to sit down or stand up on his/her own. 

In addition, babies younger than 6 months old also like experimenting with new textures. Apart from touching everything that they can, they will take the object to their mouths. So, make sure they don’t have access to anything poisonous, sharp, or dirty. Always check that the baby boy toys are not broken. 

To keep them entertained, it is not necessary to spend tonnes of money. There are many everyday objects that can play that role and that babies will love. A bottle with rice, for example, and other colorful objects can give them endless hours of fun. Most children also enjoy their baby bath toys. Empty plastic objects are great to have fun during this experience. 

When they are older than 6 months, they will start grabbing objects at will. As they will also start to move, it’s important to cover the floor with a comfortable cloth or a mat, covered with toys. Using a ring with keys or other objects that can be shaken is also attractive for children. Yet, it’s crucial that they are soft, especially because they will start growing teeth and they take everything to their mouths. This oral fixation can be dangerous.

Finally, after they are able to sit on their own, they also start improving their gross motor skills. That’s when cause and effect toys are the most useful: babies will be able to see what their bodies are able to do. During this period, balls and stacking toys such as activity cubes or pop-up clowns are the best idea to give your kid. Also, musical instruments are a classic that should not be forgotten.

Tips When Buying a Toy

As you might know already, children will stick everything in their mouths. This is very dangerous, and it is particularly important to avoid small toys that reduce the risk of choking. That’s the reason why parents should purchase toys with care. Manufacturers take a lot of time and caution when creating toys that are suitable for a particular age group. 

  • Read the labels and try to go for toys that are suitable for your child’s age.
  • Warnings are there for a reason. Avoid accidents, especially when it comes to children under 3. Pay attention to labels!
  • You may want to avoid toys with choking hazard like balloons, small lego pieces, or toys that break down into smaller parts that your child can swallow.
  • Magnets and buttons are also dangerous, and even more if they are made of a bright material that can call the attention of the baby.
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As a parent, you should also monitor the gifts that your child gets from friends and loved ones. It might be the case that the aunt brings a doll that belonged to her, with the best of intentions. However, she didn’t check for small parts that can produce choking. It is your responsibility to make sure that the toy is safe. 

So, it’s not a question of panicking when going to a store. You just need to carefully select the things that are best for your child, no matter how much or not you like them. Let’s take a look at some tips that will help any parent choose excellent baby girl toys.

1. Age Is Key

As stated above, what determines if the toy is suitable for your child or not is his or her age. Apart from danger, the baby will not engage with items that they cannot comprehend. For example, it’s of no use to give a ball to a 3-month-old baby that cannot grab it because it is too young.

2. Safety Goes First

As we have already proven to you, not every item that is for sale in a toy shape is safe for a child to use. Apart from this, not all of them are appropriate to any upbringing. You are the only one who can truly decide the toy you want your children to use. Are baby Einstein toys great for your boy? Or do you prefer him to start using balls?

3. Help Your Child Become More Creative

Playing with toys is a good opportunity for developing creativity. Items that carry out all the tasks for the child leave no room for them to become more creative, or to use their imagination to think about new and different scenarios. Things like bricks that will allow girls or boys to build the things they want will truly stimulate their creativity. 

They can build up a castle, a house, a hospital, or just something they like that has no name! In addition, you won’t need to spend a fortune so that your child has fun. Even a box can transform into a mansion for a baby who likes to play!

4. Develop their Motor Skills

When they are young, children should take advantage of their age and play physical games. Once they grow up they will have lots of time to play with tablets and watch Netflix. So, instead of giving them typical toys, you can give them the ones that require them to push or move. Of course, this does not need to be anything too innovative. 

A ball would be a perfect example of this type of toy. Another great idea could be playing with a miniature shopping cart or spinning seats.

5. Think in the Long Term

Some toys are so shiny and eye catching that you may think that they are perfect for your baby. Yet, these types of toys only last for a few months. Your children will play with them, and when they stop being brand new, your kids will not pay attention to them anymore. 

So, make sure that you look for information and make an informed decision about toys they may use for a long time. There are many toys that are appropriate for wide age groups. And some of them even can be slightly tweaked to be entertaining for different ages.

6. Find multi-use toys

Many toys are just for chewing or listening. While this is fine, they are not the best.  To make the most out of your investment, you may want to stimulate many of your baby’s senses. There are many toys that, for example, play music and light up at the same time. They may also have interesting textures and bright colors. These toys are proven to reduce stress, and they are especially helpful for babies with special needs.

7. Stimulate your child’s mind

Sure, colorful toys that make lots of noises are fun and will keep your child busy for some time. But what is he learning? Baby’s minds are in development, and so this is the best time to teach him valuable lessons. Make sure to make the most out of this important stage of your child’s life. Many toys aim at posing different challenges to your kid, like puzzles or stories. Critical thinking and problem solving skills are key for a successful adult life, and this is the best time to start developing them.

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Recommended Types of Toys

  • Use Cards -- Children are quite shortsighted when they are born. They spend almost 9 months in a dark womb without seeing any lights or colors. That is why it’s interesting to start helping them to train their eyes, not only to see far away from their personal space, but also to recognize colors. To begin with, using black and white cards are great to stimulate your newborn’s eyes, and you can start adding up colors (like red) as they grow up. 
  • Rattles Are Your Allies -- Yes, newborn children might be shortsighted, but their hearing is excellent and will learn all about the world by listening to the sounds around him or her. The first thing they will try to do, then, is to associate the sounds to the thing that produce them. When they surpass 3 months of age, the child will need as much help as needed to understand how things work and to identify the sources of sounds. For that to happen, rattles can be the best allies. They will make a strident sound that will be salient even if the background noise is loud. As soon as you shake it in front of the baby, he will understand where it comes from. Your boy or girl will follow the toy with their eyes, and even recognize music patterns in case you form them. Make sure the rattle has non-toxic paint and is made up of materials that won’t break into smaller pieces. 
  • Classic Balls for a Lot of Fun -- There are many types of balls: small or big, soft or hard, sturdy, easy or difficult to grasp... And children will love all of them! The ones with a bell inside of them are particularly popular among young babies. When they are starting to crawl, trying to reach the ball can be a great stimulator to move forward. In addition, in further stages of development, balls are amazing items to teach the concept of a circle or sphere. Throwing, catching or even kicking the ball is incredibly fun, not only for the baby but also for the rest of the family!
  • Put Puzzles Together -- Probably, if we talk about puzzles you may think about a big jigsaw puzzle, in which you have to invest hundreds of hours and break your head over. But those are not the only puzzles that exist! Today, manufacturers design excellent puzzles especially for babies. Apart from bringing many hours of joy, they will help your kids work on their problem solving skills and their fine motor ones as well. Also, they will start recognizing shapes and realizing that not all of them fit. Some of them are made of cloth, foam, or even wood to make sure they won’t hurt your baby in any way.
  • Buy an Activity Gym -- These gyms are designed so that babies have a nice space where to spend their time and learn to interact with new objects. Even if most of them have hanging award winning toys for 1 year old children, they aim at making him or her move. Most of them have lights and music, so they will truly enjoy the experience of being under the gym. You can forget about the baby crying for hours, particularly if he or she is in the car seat.Choose the model that you prefer for your son or daughter. Try to keep a balance between colors and sounds so as not to overwhelm your kid with too much stimulation. For example, one of the hot toys today is baby groot. But it may not be suitable for any child. Also, this type of gym should adapt to the age of your child, so you won’t have to buy an entirely new one. If you do so, you will be able to custom the gym to the needs of the baby.
  • Start with a Book -- Everybody loves a good story, and your child, even more! Children love the sound of the people who love them, even if the story is very simple. They will want to hear it over and over again. A book, then, even if short, can be a great motivator for them so start recognizing pictures and colors. In addition to being intellectual moment, storytelling can help you connect with your son at the deepest level. Moreover, the pictures can be very educative when learning new vocabulary without actually studying them. 
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FAQ for Parents

It may happen that you still have doubts about the most appropriate toys based on the personality and likings of your son or daughter. Below, we have answered two of the most frequently asked questions by parents on this popular topic. Let’s explore them below!

Is my child sleeping with a stuffed animal a good idea?

Not really. Many experts recommend that children should not sleep with toys before they are at least 1 year old. It is also important to avoid them sleeping with quilts or blankets because they increase the risk of suffering suffocation. 

That is why your child’s crib should be as clean as possible, without any objects or toys when the baby is sleeping. After the aforementioned age, is is far less dangerous to let them sleep with something. At this stage of his or her development, the child can roll over, take things off their face, and even sit up.

Can your baby benefit from playing with these toys?

There are many good sides to letting your baby play with toys. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Pediatrician’ studies carried out in 2009 showed that encouraging infants, toddlers, and pre-school children to play with toys as well as grade schoolers to make some time to play results in children having good behaviour in the classroom or in crowded rooms. 
  • They develop social skills fast. When your baby is very young, he or she will not even perceive strangers around him or her. The child will only want to play. As they grow up, children start communicating with others. While doing so, he or she learns about collaboration and reaching an agreement whenever they have differences -like who will be the driver. 
wooden-toys

Last Considerations

Different from watching television or playing video games, when children play tag or climb trees which require physical effort, they develop their physical abilities. As they grow older, their desire to be active is higher which is beneficial for their health. Playing certainly prevents heart diseases and other illnesses. It also lessens the chances of obesity. 

Toys certainly foster mental skills. Toys and games that are challenging for children help them increase their mental capacities. Indeed, studies suggest that the more the child plays, the better he or she will perform in academic exams. For instance, when children pile blocks, they are implicitly learning how to count even though they don’t know the numbers. 

Carefully consider the best objects for your child. They don’t necessarily have to be expensive, just appropriate to their age and needs. With the best baby toys, not only you will be helping your baby in having a plentiful, happy childhood, but you will also bond with him or her. You will have a lot of hours of quality time together, and a lot of fun, too.