Babies are strange and wonderful creatures... but often, they're just strange! It can be utterly perplexing to try and figure out why they ignore mirrors, balls and the TV... but are fascinated with a piece of cellophane or a patterned piece of fabric. They do get more understandable as they age - but if you'd like to avoid many wasted baby toys and dollars, it's best to understand the theory of age-appropriate toys early. For babies, toys are more than just a way to pass the time since they don't have to do the dishes or work - they're vital to the development of intelligence and a sense of self. Here we created an ages-and-stages guide to baby toys to demystify the whole process.
Baby toys for 0-3 months old
At this stage, a baby's best toy is really their parents! They don't have much of a grip or any fine motor skills to speak of, so your involvement in their play is vital. However, you can help that development along with tools:
- Mobiles: For those times when she's going to sleep or just waking up, a mobile on the side of the cot is a great thing to have. Mobiles encourage pattern recognition, hand-eye coordination and a sens of 'object permanence'. A toy mobile that plays music is best.
- Music: Both ordinary old adult CDs, kid's music and toys that play their own little ditties are great for building neural pathways at this age.
- Contrasting and colourful items: Items with high-contrast colours or black and white get a lot of staring time!
Baby toys for 3-6 months old
All the toys that your baby's relatives bought for her after she was born will start to come into circulation and use at this age. Grasping and interactive play starts to become a reality, so choose baby toys like:
- Books: Some babies love books, some couldn't care less. It's a great time to introduce them and see what your child thinks, though.
- Rattles and soft toys: Anything that makes noise and has a simple reaction to using it is good for babies at this age
- Nursing necklaces: Many babies (including mine!) love to pinch Mum or Dad's chest and neck while they're feeding. A nursing necklace is a great alternative toy to the skin of your collarbone...
- Mirrors: The mirror stage of development comes at a different time for all babies, starting from around now.
Baby toys for 6-9 months old
Babies are getting much more interesting, and interested, at this age! Choose baby toys that offer little challenges - but not too great, or your child just won't bother. Look for the toys like:
- Stacking blocks, cups and boxes: If your baby can't do it herself, show her how
- Bath toys: Anything that squirts, can be read or floats is good at this age
- Musical toys: If your baby can figure out how to make the music of their baby toy play, they'll love it
Baby toys from 9-12 months
Your little one has almost graduated from their first year of life; these are the baby toys that most children are into at this age:
- Push and pull toys: push and pull toys that don't need to be walked around are most practical
- Dolls: Kids start to be a bit more imaginative with their use of dolls at this age, moving beyond just biting and bashing them!
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