(Original Post Date December 20, 2019)
When purchasing toys for children, it's recommended that parents select toys based on their child’s age and developing abilities. If you search for a list of toys by age, you will quickly realize that most online retailers list toys within large age ranges, such as 0-24 months, 2-4 years, and so on. However, what is appropriate for a 2 year old will most likely not be appropriate for a 6 month old. For this reason, I created a list of my favorite toys for babies to help parents make better choices based on their child’s age and developmental abilities.
Let's take a quick look at developmental milestones from Birth - 6 months:
Babies at this stage are rapidly developing neural connections, learning based on experiences around them. They’re developing and fine tuning their senses. As their vision improves, they begin focusing on faces and objects nearby. They are visually attracted to toys having high color contrasts, such as black, white, and red. They explore textures using their mouth and begin bringing hands and feet to mouth to self-soothe. They begin to hold their heads up and push off when laid on their tummies. Hand and eye coordination begins to develop as they look at toys and reach to grab them. They like to look at themselves in a mirror, respond to sounds by making sounds, strings vowels together when babbling, and begin to say first consonant sounds. Closer to 6 months of age, babies enjoy playing more with others, especially parents and siblings.
When selecting toys for babies look for:
- High contrasting patterns and colors to encourage visual development.
- Teethers and textured toys for mouthing and sensory exploration.
- Floor mirrors for tummy time and to help children focus on faces.
- Rattles and shakers to encourage grabbing and reaching for hand-eye coordination.
- Soft stuffed toys and blankies to encourage self-soothing and object permanence.
- Soft baby books for early introduction of literacy and to promote language development.
Remember you are your child’s best and favorite thing to look at, listen to, and play with. You can also encourage visual development, joint attention, interaction, and language without toys by singing nursery rhymes, finger plays and actions songs like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, and playing peek-a-boo with blankets, towels, and scarfs.
Don’t forget to use common objects around your home to promote learning through play, such as empty boxes and containers, plastic bowls and lids, DIY shakers made out of an empty bottle and bottle caps, wooden spoons, and paper rolls!
Toys to avoid:
Electronic Toys with flashing lights, excessive images, and overly stimulating music as research shows that these types of toys result in reduced parent-child interactions, fewer verbal responses from parents and reduced production of words that at are specific to objects in the child’s environment, reduced vocalization by children as compared to when they played with open-ended toys such as rattles, stuffed animals, blocks, and books.
Visit the CDC website for more information regarding developmental milestones by age.
My Top 5 Favorite Toys for Babies
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Foot Finders and Baby Rattles by Baby Love
I prefer foot finders and rattles over play mats and activity gyms as they do not take up too much space and can be easily stored. These little foot finders and hand rattles can be used to encourage babies to reach for objects, grasp for things, and hold objects in their hands.
Cuddly Penguin Teether by Infantino
Every baby needs a teether. And what’s more cuter than a baby penguin buddy. This little guy is made of soft and textured fabric with high contrast prints, as well as a textured teething ring and chewy feet. Its body makes crinkly sounds for babies to explore. Mouthing toys is beneficial as it can assist with the development of biting and chewing skills required for feeding, it allows babies to experience different textures and sensations, and teaches babies how to self-soothe.
Stuffed Animal Blanket by Taggies
Taggies makes a variety of tagged toys and blankets with different animal themes, such as fawns, owls, monkeys and elephants. The soft blankets are perfect for cuddling, providing security and self-soothing. The satin tags are great for tactile exploration. I love small blankets for babies as you can use them to play peek-a-boo, hide objects under the blanket and teach object permanence.
Flip for Art High Contrast Floor Activity Mirror by Baby Einstein
I love activity floor mirrors. They are perfect for little ones learning to focus on faces. This Baby Einstein mirror has high contrast colors and patterns along its border and in its accompanying flash cards. It can be used on the floor during tummy time activities to encourage shoulder and muscle strength as well as motor skills. The flash cards come with a link babies can hold onto or it can be clipped on a stroller or baby carrier.
Peek-A-Boo Forest Soft Book by Lamaze
It is never too early to read to a newborn! Showing them pictures and talking about sounds and words in books will encourage attention and increase language development. This is an adorable baby book that also contains colorful illustrations, bright colors, and patterns for visual development. It has textured fabric and crinkling panels to stimulate tactile and auditory senses. The pages have soft flaps to encourage hand-eye coordination and fine motor development.
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