“ Friends and relatives are surprised when they see the cupboards and boxes at my home overflowing with toys. We as parents sometimes do not appreciate the importance of toys. I do it because I have witnessed my child learning everything with toys.”, shared Madhu, a mother of a 9 year old.
Toys and childhood are inseparable. Children learn best through what they do, what their job is and which is to play. So, toys are not mere objects of play, they are tools with which a young baby, then a child learns to explore the different dimensions of this world and acquire new skills.
Toys and Developmental Milestones
When your baby learns to hold a toy, with both hands, be aware that he just crossed a milestone. The colour and sound of the toy not only appeals to their senses but also makes them explore the toy, to reach out for it, grasp it, and in this whole process they learn an important skill that is eye hand coordination. A skill which is going to last their lifetime. When they learn to stack the rings in the perfect order, that's when one of their cognitive milestones have been reached. When they learn to brush the hair of their dolls and imitate to feed her just like you, another of their milestones have been reached. Building bridges with blocks, imagining another block as a train crossing over it helps in the development of a number of milestones from cognitive to linguistic. Research shows that playing with toys helps in building important pathways in the brain, which last throughout their life. And the icing on the cake is when you join in their play! Toys are one of the best investments that you can make for your babies.
Toys for 0-12 month olds should be fun, engaging and safe for hand and mouth. The right toys for babies up to a year old should be about stimulating their senses, visual, auditory and tactile. While choosing toys for them do make sure that they are safe for babies to put in their mouth and offer a lot of texture, colour, pattern and sound which will help in development of their senses.Toys with small pieces, magnets, and button batteries should be avoided since they pose a choking hazard or serious injuries if ingested.
Rattle and Teether Toys
Rattles and teethers make great first gifts for babies and are an important first toy as they help little ones improve hand-eye coordination by stimulating their senses. They are safe for babies to chew on and made from BPA free plastics, wood or cloth. Some are brightly coloured, while others might be red, white and black. Rattles can be of different shapes and might look like animals, keys, flowers or musical instruments. Rattles make noises and sounds when they are shaken. These sounds can range from the dull sounds typical of wooden rattles to jingling or bell type sounds from metal rattles. Many rattles also have other textures that provide sounds like crinkling noises. Some rattles might even have batteries and display lights or play lullabies when a button is pushed.
At first, babies hold their rattles tightly with a strong grasp reflex. As their fine motor skills develop, they will learn to hold and shake their rattle in the air. They will play by bringing their rattle to their mouth and safely exploring these baby toys not only with their hands but their tongue and mouth. Babies also learn to hold the rattle in one hand then transfer the toy into another hand. A teething toy or a teether may not only help in relieving the pain of inflamed gums in babies; it also helps in tongue movement and the babies become aware of their mouth.
Stack up Toys
Stacking toys be it rings, cups or any other shape are also one of the popular gifts for your baby. You will find plastic as well as wooden stacking toys in different shapes, sizes and colours available across stores online. My personal favourite are always the wooden ones. Wooden toys, have long durability and sometimes stay in a family for generations. Stacking toys have their own advantages. By stacking the pieces on top of each other, your baby develops a connection between arms, hands and fingers. When a little older, they are able to stack the smaller pieces on top of the larger ones, that's the time they learn an important skill - problem solving. Babies never seem to get tired of stacking toys. These are multipurpose toys suitable for toddlers also. They can start learning colours, shapes, positions and a lot more using these.
Sensory play is great for calming your baby. Kids and babies can often become easily overstimulated, anxious, or frustrated. After some sensory games, children are generally calmer, and sometimes even sleepy. A great example of this is water play during bathtime! Sensory play, especially when using baby bath toys, is fun and beneficial for your babies and toddlers.
Every time your little one touches something cold, wet, sticky, or of another varying texture, they build upon their previous understanding of which objects have these characteristics. You can find many sensory toys across stores, they are in the form of sensory books having different textures, bath toys, sensory blocks, soft balls, and textured musical balls.
Learners Activity Cubes
Activity cubes or activity toys contain many elements, which can be played in different manners by your little ones. Some parts may require action which would aid in development of their motor skills, there would be other parts which would make a lot of noise and appeal to their senses. In an activity cube with shape holes, a baby would learn in which hole a shape would go thus taking a step towards learning problem solving. In activity cubes which have beads to be moved around a maze, apart from holding and grasping, it will aid in movements of their wrist.
Activity cubes with push buttons help them learn to point their fingers, which is such an important development. Many activity cubes help babies to learn animals, their sounds. So, it is something you should definitely have on your list of toys.
Hope this general overview of toys helps you to make the best selection for your little one. But it is not just the toy alone which is going to work wonders. Your engagement in their play is going to do so!
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