Choosing baby toys
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Baby toys aren’t just for fun, they are an investment in the development of your child.
But, as you go on the fun exploring baby toys world, there are some things to consider, especially in the first year.
Baby toys for 0-3 month
Your baby’s most favorite toy in the time during 0-3 months is ……. YOU.
In baby’s first few months he/she will appreciate the things he/she can look at and listen to the most.
This is also the time before your baby learns to grasp something or even sit up.
Baby’s vision is still a bit fuzzy at first and he/she will only be able to see things clearly about 12 inches away in the first month. From there 8 – 15 inches away from his/her eyes.
The thing that draws baby’s attention the most at this stage is a human face and he/she will recognize your face at about 1 month.
Having large pictures of faces handy will also be fun.
Because they’re the easiest to see, high-contrast patterns and bright colors will captivate baby.
Your baby has already learned to appreciate sounds and soft music as well and objects that move slowly and have a gentle sound are more interesting to your baby than objects that are fixed and silent.
Let’s take a look at some toys:
Because baby is still nearsighted, he/she will appreciate anything you can move into her line of sight. He/she won’t be able to hold on to the toys for a while
He/she won’t be able to hold on to the toys for a while, but you’ll see which ones baby prefers.
MP3 player or music box:
One of the best ways to entertain and soothe your baby is to play music.
You can play a variety of music and look to see how your baby responds to the different types of sounds.
Mobiles (aff) add an entirely new dimension to your baby’s horizontal view of life.
It is best to look for ones with high-contrast colors and patterns.
Most babies will love the mobiles that play music the most.
When buying and adding mobiles to your baby’s bed, please keep safety in mind. Always keep the mobile out of your baby’s reach.
Mobiles are a strangulation hazard therefore, you must make sure that you don’t attach one to or hang one directly over your baby’s crib.
Instead, rather hang the mobile from the ceiling just within your baby’s line of sight.
Babies find their own reflection fascinating and if you give them an unbreakable mirror, they won’t actually realize that it is their own reflection they are looking at.
By around 3 months your baby will start smiling at his/her own reflection.
It will be best to look for a mirror that you can hang near a changing table (where you’re always present) or which will stand up in front of you baby during tummy play time.
Special soft baby books (aff) with easy-to-see, high-contrast patterns or decorations are designed especially for babies.
You and baby can lie down next to each other as you read out loud and baby can see how you turn the pages, hear how you read out loud and look at the pictures.
Although you might sometimes want to take out the squeak, a soft toy that trills or tweets when pressed will entertain baby for months to come.
When the toy is very soft and squeaks easily, baby will accidentally make the toy squeak and this will help baby to become aware of what his/her hand can do.
Sock and wrist rattles
When you attach a soft rattle to your baby’s wrist or ankle (aff) or warm baby’s feet with socks that have built-in rattles it provides long entertaining moments as baby experiments with new sounds and learn how he/she can make these sounds him/herself.
These are also educational, because your baby will start learning to cross his/her midline and not just touch the left leg with the left hand, but also the right leg with the left hand and vice versa.
All babies love soft music.
Hang a set of wind chimes in a place where baby can watch it move and listen to the sound.
It the chine is near baby’s crib, it might become a habit to watch it before drifting off into a peaceful sleep.
You can also hold baby close to the chimes so that he/she can sound them him/herself.
See the excitement of this new discovery on baby’s face when he/she realize that he/she can make that sound.
Be careful though, they love grabbing on and not letting go.
Baby toys for 3-6 months
When baby enters this stage, he/she discovers how much fun his/her own hands can be now that they’re not clenched in a fist anymore.
Baby can suck his/her fingers and use them to grasp a toy that you place in his/her hands.
By this stage baby began reaching for toys.
Baby soon learns to pass a toy back and forth between his/her hands and rotate his/her wrist to inspect the toy from all sides.
Just after inspection, he/she has to taste the toy by popping it into his/her mouth.
For this reason, you must make sure that all toys are safe for chewing.
Never attach a toy to a crib or playpen with elastic. This could end up strangling or entrapping your baby.
By 6 months, your baby can sit up. This gives him/her a new perspective on life and making him/her the center of his/her own clanging, colorful and ever-changing world.
Basically an activity center (aff) is a rack that comes with dangling toys.
Sometimes you have different types of toys that you can choose from or change them regularly to keep baby entertained.
While baby is still horizontal this activity center makes life more interesting to baby.
Your baby can bat the toys, pull them, spin them and rattle them.
Once baby is around 5 months and can push up on his/her hands and knees, make sure that the activity center (and any toy strung across the crib) are safe and that your baby can’t get tangled up in anything.
All babies love to make a noise, just give him/her a rattle and watch baby shake it up.
For added fun, put on some music with a strong beat so that your baby can accompany the music.
Generally, babies at this age love music and are just learning to appreciate rythm.
Some rattles are clear, which lets baby in on what’s making all that cool noise.
If you are looking for safe, cute baby rattles, the Fisher-Price Rattle and Rock Maracas Musical Toy (aff) is extremely popular for a reason.
Activity bars (Aff) are bars that fit across an infant seat, car seat or stroller.
These bars has dangling, squeaky, tuggable plastic toys.
Soft stuffed animals
Most children begin to form an attachment to a plush animal at this stage.
Key criteria for the soft stuffed animal at this stage is soft and cuddly.
You don’t want anything with wire ears or tail that could poke through the fabric and hurt your child.
Rather buy dolls and animals with stitched-on features.
Soft toys with plastic eyes, nose and mouth are potential choking hazards.
Also off-limits at this stage are features such as bells, buttons, ribbons and yarn that your baby can yank off and stuff into his/her mouth.
Squeaky rubber toys
Anything that can be gripped and squeaks is very popular with this age group.
These toys are perfect for bath time.
With bathtime, squeaky rubber toys (aff) and you – comes allot of happy squeals from baby.
Reading to a child at any age, even while they’re still inside the womb will pay off.
Board books (aff) can withstand almost anything baby can throw at them like mouthing, drooling and any other forms of baby love.
Listening to your voice while you’re reading the stories helps your baby develop an ear for your language.
Varying the pitch of your voice, using accents, singing and vocalizing will make reading together much more interesting to your child.
Nothing beats the ease of gnawing on a soft plastic teething ring (aff) when baby’s gums are sore.
Store teethers in the refrigerator to provide cold relief when your baby needs it. There are special teething rings with liquid inside too, but avoid putting them in the freezer. Neither the teether nor your baby’s mouth are designed to withstand freezing temperatures.
Activity quilts and playmats
These quilts and blankies (aff) can smooth a journey with your baby.
Whether you’re taking baby on a walk to the park or on a long road trip, having this blankie handy can save you some trouble.
Attach some of his/her favorite toys to the labels sewn along the side and bring them along too.
Baby toys for 6-9 months
At this stage, your baby’s play becomes much more vigorous.
Now when he/she picks up a spoon, he/she may bang against pots and pans and furiously rattles a bunch of keys.
Baby can now even grab two toys at once and slam them together.
Even movements are becoming more precise.
Your baby’s brain is developing the ability to master new fine motor skills and thanks to natural developing skills, your baby can pick a raisin up from the floor.
By this time your house should be childproof.
Also at this stage, your baby is becoming aware of the fact that objects still exist even when he/she can’t see or feel them.
This means that your baby will miss his/her favorite stuffed animal if he/she can’t see it and will try to search for it.
It also means that you can begin playing hide-and-seek games with objects. Hide your baby’s favorite teddy bear while he/she is looking and he/she will find it right away. Your baby will be very proud for finding the teddy.
Mostly this is the age where most babies start going mobile.
From sitting, there’s a short developmental step to moving around on his/her stomach to rocking back and forth on his/her hands and knees and then crawling.
By the time your baby is 9 months he/she may be pulling him/herself up to a standing position and holding on to your furniture, getting ready to move forward.
The following baby toys can help your baby explore end quickly develop:
Yes, books again. This is the age at which reading becomes more interactive and fun for both you and baby.
Reading together is critical in helping your baby develop language skills which is starting to take off rapidly.
Cloth and board books work well at this stage.
After you read the book, pass it on to your baby so that he/she can take a turn flipping the pages and “reading” to you.
Don’t forget your baby will try to taste the book as well, that is why you should use safe baby books at this stage.
Babies adore activity boards which can be attached to a crib rail.
Your baby also starts getting the idea that you can make things happen to objects. Because of this, poking, twisting, squeezing, shaking, dropping and opening things will fascinate your baby.
Soft dolls or stuffed animals
At this age, babies develop an attachment to a certain favorite toy or blanket. This is an attachment to a comfort object normally called a bankey or lovey. This object is a psychological comfort for your baby.
Pediatricians encourage this connection saying a familiar object can ease transitions later on.
Some dolls and stuffed animals make more suitable loveys than others. Avoid ones with ribbons, plastic eyes, yarn or anything that can be pulled off and put into your baby’s mouth.
At this stage, don’t get dolls that are so big that it’s hard for your baby to pick them up.
Also look for fabric toys that are labeled flame resistant or flame retardant and they should be washable.
Balls are fun for any age.
Lightweight fabric balls (aff) are a favorite at this stage.
As your baby is sitting, roll a ball back and forth between the two of you on the floor.
When your baby is older, you can toss it across the room and he/she can crawl after it.
Your kitchen cabinet is filled with toys and here your baby will find some of his/her favorite items.
A plastic bowl, measuring cups and a wooden spoon will give your baby entertainment for hours to come.
Make sure that your bottom cupboards are safe and the one’s that are not safe are protected with sliding locks. Keep a few lightweight, safe utensils and small pots where your baby can reach them and make sure anything heavy that might fall on him/her is in the “safe cupboard”.
Open the cupboard while you’re preparing food and your baby will pull out a few utensils and whip up something too.
Wood or soft blocks
You can show him/her how to stack a few blocks and then knock them down.
Throw them into a container for him/her and then dump them all out.
Quickly he/she’ll get the idea.
Stacking blocks, filling and dumping and building games are popular at this age.
Find some sturdy cars (aff) that your baby can push around on the floor.
If it makes a noise, it will be a whole lot more fun, like the ones with rattles built in.
There are pop up cars that has something that pops up when your baby pushes them too, which will entertain him/her too.
Baby toys for 9-12 months
By the time your baby reaches the age of 9 or 10 months, he/she’ll be able to make his/her way around the room in some fashion. Either by creeping, crawling, or cruising (walking while holding on to the furniture).
By 12 months your baby may be able to stand and even walk.
By this time, your baby will also start using objects as tools, pushing a ball with a stick or chasing the carrots around his/her plate with a spoon.
Your baby is also more interested in interactive games at this stage.
Tickle him/her and let your baby tickle you back.
Pretend to talk on the phone and then pass it to your baby so that he/she can babble and hand it back to you.
By this time your baby’s problem-solving skills are improving too. Your baby will take the lid of a clear container to get the toy he/she see inside rather than trying to reach through it.
Your baby also begins to understand words and recognize the names of familiar objects.
Whether on all fours or on two feet, your baby has the freedom of movement and mobility and is now more curious than ever.
Your baby wants to move, grab and get into everything that used to be out of reach.
If you have not done so yet, at this stage, your house should really be child proofed already. Although your baby taste tested things in the previous stages too, by this age everything goes to your baby’s mouth, so make sure that the baby toys you buy are age-appropriate toys.
These push toys give your baby a chance to exercise his/her new walking skills.
Choose one that is weighted so that your baby can lean into it and take a lap or two around the living room.
Most babies at this stage are still too young for pull toys, which are better for slightly advanced walker who can look behind them while moving forward.
This newly found mobility is a great experience for your baby, but even after walking is not new any more, your baby will enjoy pushing and pulling toys for months to come.
This is one of those toys that fascinate, but sometimes frustrate, your baby at this stage.
This is also a good time to give your baby a clear, plastic container with some balls or blocks and watch the fun begin.
We talked about balls at the age of 6-9 months too, but at this stage, balls get even more thrilling because now your baby can actually stand up and bounce them off the floor.
Your baby might also like toys that feature balls like ones that use air to make them pop up and have other entertaining features, like silly sounds and songs.
Babies love imitating their parents.
Even if your baby can’t say much yet, he/she will try to communicate by holding the receiver and pushing buttons.
The more realistic the phone, the better.
You can even consider buying intercom telephones (aff) and you can sit away from your baby and he/she can hear your voice over the phone, just like in real life.
Yes, again. The more you expose our baby to books, the more your baby will learn to love and appreciate books. Later in life this is an advantage.
At this age, your baby is particularly intrigued by books with flaps that opne, pull tabs that reveal new characters, textures that can be rubbed and bunnies that need patting.
Books, like the peek-a-boo forest book will amuse your baby for hours.
If you haven’t bought blocks yet, at this age it’s a must-have.
Although at this stage, he/she might be able to stack only a couple at a time, knocking them over is where the fun is.
Start out with large wooden blocks and when your baby reaches his/her first birthday you can move to large plastic blocks that snap together like the Lego mega blocks (aff)
Pail and shovel
Take them along to the sandbox or park and your baby will stay contented and busy for a long time.
If you buy sand sets, you will save in the long run, because although your baby might still struggle to get the shapes to look the same as they do in the mould, these sets will keep your baby entertained for years to come. Just make certain that you collect all the pieces when you leave the park’s sandpit.
Playing in the bath is a whole lot more fun than just washing and getting out.
At this stage, you really have to invest in bath toys for your baby, it’s not just fun, it’s educational too.
You can take a look at the following selection of bath toys:
These are just a few, but there are sooo many fun-filled bath time toys that you can let your imagination run wild.
Baby toys and safety
Always remember when purchasing or giving your baby toys that safety come first.
In these first 12 months of your baby, you will want to avoid
- toys with strings or cords more than 12 inches long
- Porducts made of PVC
- Small objects like marbles that fit through a toy-testing tube
- Toys with small parts (such as batteries or loose magnets that can be swallowed
- Stuffed animals with loosely sewn-on parts that can be easily removed
- Sharp-edged toys
- Toys made with lead-based paint
- Toys that they can stick their finger in where the hole is big enough to get it in, but too small to get it out
Want to know the stages of child development?
Take a look at this great infographic from Positive Health Wellness.
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