Your newborn’s first few months may seem like a never-ending cycle: changing diapers, feeding, sleeping, repeat. But as you may already know, playtime is also a major part of your little one’s development. From cognitive and physical development to emotional and social growth, the importance of play is undeniable. Through play, children of any age, even infants, learn about themselves and the world they live in.
The best part of it all? You can join in the fun too: engage and talk with your baby while he or she plays with and explores new toys. This is how you will help them achieve new developmental milestones.
Which Kind of Toys Should Babies Play With?
Babies often find objects around the home to be more fascinating than the store-bought, professionally crafted toys, so you might think you don’t necessarily have to invest in pieces of entertainment. However, modern baby toys have certain features that will boost your baby’s development while keeping them safely amused.
Features to Consider When Choosing Baby Toys
- Contrasting colours and patterns. A baby’s vision isn’t fully developed until they’ve turned five months. To help them see and focus on objects, choose newborn baby toys with high contrast in colours and patterns. Simple black and white designs are best for newborns (stripes, checkerboard or simple images are easier to focus on), while older babies enjoy looking at brighter colours.
- Different soft textures. Toys with strips of satiny, velvety, rubbery, bumpy or fluffy materials are an absolute hit for tiny, grabby fingers. Babies start developing fine motor skills from three months and up, so interesting textures are go-to for developing these skills.
- Safe for chewing. Babies want to put everything in their mouth, and some very curious bubs will definitely try to eat some not so great things! But you can ensure your baby that some things are actually OK to gnaw, like toys and teethers that are free from harmful materials and are made with one-piece construction to prevent possible choking hazards.
- Easy to clean. Toys that are machine washable and dishwasher safe are great time-savers, as you’re probably already cleaning all day. Some other toys, like ones made of plastic, silicone or rubber are susceptible to mould, which means they should be well cleaned and dried fairly often.
- Audible. Rattles, bells, crinkles, lullabies – if it makes a sound, babies will love it. You can encourage their curiosity with toys that respond audibly to their actions, like if they jingle when they shake them or squeak when they squeeze them.
Whether you’re looking for simple handheld toys for playtime or soothing amusement for bedtime, here are some ideas that might help you in the pursuit of the perfect toy.
Activity Play Mat
You can use this baby gym from day one and it can grow with your baby thanks to its multiple purposes. Place your baby on their back, side or tummy (to practice tummy time). These mats are easy-to-clean as you can easily disconnect the bottom part. Hanging animals have their own exciting features, from batting to squeezing, there’s certainly a lot to do in this gym.
An All-in-One Toy
All-in-one toys are designed so that babies can squeak, crinkle, play and chew them. Bright colours, high-contrast patterns and soft teether – ideal for multi-sensory play. This baby toy can quickly become the best companion for your little pal both at home and on-the-go.
A Toy for Grabby Hands
A colourful grab toy is the perfect fit for grabby hands as it has a gentle texture that babies can easily gnaw on and an ideal size for their little hands. It can be refrigerated to a cool temperature to soothe sensitive teething gums. Plus, it is lightweight enough and suitable to play with from an early age.
Some baby mats include unbreakable mirrors, but if not, you can buy a baby mirror in order for your little one to develop a love for their own reflection. Mirrors can also be used for motivation, distraction, or entertainment during tummy time. It’s of great help when babies start learning to sit, therefore make sure that one you choose is safe to use and secured in a safe manner to protect your baby.
A Set of Rattles
You can’t go wrong with rattles because they are very diverse. By making different sounds babes begin to learn to differentiate them. They can also be used as motivators when learning to roll and crawl. These newborn toys are also a lot of fun to put into (and under) different containers once the baby is old enough to use both hands.
A Crawl Music Toy
It’s no surprise that babies love music toys. Crawl music toys are designed to encourage motor skills and challenge little ones to crawl. Colourful lights and interesting, pleasant sounds stimulate sensory development and remind your baby to keep reaching and following them.
A Bedtime Soother
Every baby deserves to have friendly little sloth to make it a bedtime BFF. You can hang this newborn toy on the outside of the crib so the baby can fall asleep watching it.
Remember that every baby has unique interests and will respond differently to various toys. I hope you’ve got a better idea of what kind of toy to choose for your little bundle of joy the next time you go on a shopping spree.