For the first couple of months babies don’t actually need toys. The only thing they’ll play with during that time is your nerves, since crying without a reason will be one of their main interests. But around their third month, babies will start to show an increased interest in the environment surrounding them. And this is the perfect time to introduce them to fun and colourful toys that can keep them entertained.
Toys are not just merely a way to keep a baby distracted while you’re catching up on your favourite TV show. The ideal baby toys will help infants learn to focus their attention, understand eye-hand coordination, discover their motor skills, and more. Many toys, especially the ones involving sounds and music, are designed to help encourage babies to babble, helping them develop speech faster. While babies can be happy playing with wooden spoons and plastic containers, you should introduce to them a large variety of toys and objects that will help with their physical and cognitive development by stimulating their senses.
Before you go shopping for baby toys online or at your local baby store, get informed about which toys are age-appropriate for your child. If the age tag on a toy says your little one is too young to play with it, it’s because that toy has parts which might present a choking hazard. Also pay attention to the material it’s made of. Kids can fall seriously ill if they place a toy in their mouths that’s produced with harmful chemicals and additives such as lead, formaldehyde, softeners, or flame retardants. Luckily, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission has issued specific guidelines on product safety, including children’s toys.
Babies play through exploration, and exploration means placing things in their mouths. Therefore, rattles and teethers are the first toys a parent will buy. Rattles and teethers should be made soft enough to not harm teeth and have a rich texture which will appeal to an infant’s senses. When babies are too young to sit up straight, crib mobiles can keep them amused. While they lie on their back, the colourful shapes will spin above them emitting gentle sounds or lullabies that will help a baby fall asleep on his/her own.
When babies are old enough and able to sit firmly without assistance, you can introduce them to more dynamic toys. Musical toys that turn on when the little one pushes a button help teach the cause and effect relationship. The baby will learn that it was his/her own action that set a chain of reactions such as flashing lights or sounds. And believe me, there’s nothing cuter than seeing a baby bouncing and wiggling to these fun sounds. Once your baby can take a bath while sitting, you can surprise him/her with a bath toy. Rubber duckies and similar toys, help a young child build hand strength by squeezing water out of them.
These are just a few suggestions regarding which toys are appropriate for a baby. However, remember that there’s nothing 100% ideal. Infants’ interests change so quickly that it’s hard to find a toy that will entertain them for very long. But what you can do is check how safe a toy’s material is, inspect whether there are components which can be easily swallowed, and consider whether the toy is just the size for your child to be able to hold and play with it. Because you won’t be able to check for yourself, if you’re buying baby toys online make sure to do so from a reputable store you can trust.