Babies need stimulation from the day they are born. The type of stimulation depends on the age, of course. When very young, the toys can be fairly simple since babies under six months old have poor hand-eye coordination and little dexterity. Once reaching six months old, the baby begins to show rapid improvement in both skills, meaning the baby toys need to get more sophisticated. From rattles to toys they can push around, play time is work time for a baby learning new skills.
A baby less than six months old needs visual and audio stimulation, and should be encouraged to do simple tasks like reaching and grabbing. The infant is usually not coordinated enough to grab anything and is more likely to knock a toy off a flat surface rather than grab it. The first baby toys are usually items like teething rattles or squeaky fabric toys because they make noise, are easy to hold, and are safe. The noise in these early toys promotes learning about ‘consequences’, though only on the most basic level. A baby learns quickly that shaking a colorful toy will produce a delightful sound. That is right before the toy goes into the mouth, of course. What good is a toy until it has been tasted!?
A Bigger World Filled with Action
After six months old, the baby understands much more about toys. The baby will begin to hug the plush toys to show affection. Children will also have toys that provide comfort. Unable to tell mom what toy is needed at nap time or when feeling ill, mom quickly learns that the musical elephant or baby sheep must take a nap also.
A growing baby needs plenty of stimulation and that is one of the main purposes of toys. Though we tend to think of baby toys as merely items for entertainment, they serve a much larger purpose. At approximately ten months old, the baby will be able to move around by crawling or shuffling. Once on the move, the child will be much more coordinated and able to grab and hold on to toys. Buying toys that promote exploration and the use of eye-hand motions is encouraged.
In addition, the baby will be ready to begin stacking soft alphabet blocks and filling small red wagons or baskets. Toys that move on wheels are needed because the child can learn about pushing and pulling. They also promote activity which increases muscle development. In addition, any toy that has some kind of action will catch the baby’s attention and promote curiosity and learning.
On the Move!
In other words, between six months to a year old, the baby wants to be as active as possible and needs lots of toys to stay busy. At some stage, the child will want to try standing up, so you also need sturdy children’s furniture that he or she can lean on. The ideal baby toys for a child require participation of some kind, whether it is pushing, pulling, stacking, chasing, hiding, or pressing.
Of course, any toys purchased need to be high quality, non-toxic, free of splinters and sharp edges, and safe. The baby on the move is amazingly hard on toys, so you want them to be durable. It is fun watching a baby learn about the world, and the toys that shake, rattle, and roll only add to the fun.