The growth and development of your child are incredibly important, so if it’s possible to make that type of learning fun, then it’s so much the better! There are numerous baby toys out there, all designed to help your little one grow and develop in the proper ways and at a variety of price points and sizes for babies of all age ranges. Some are small enough to fit into a diaper bag, while others are larger and need to stay home. All of these toys have one thing in common, though – they can make learning fun!
So, let’s dive into some fun baby toy options for your precious little one, so they can start learning while they grow.
Grasping toys are designed to allow your child to do exactly what the title implies – grasp objects. They often have handles (some are textured) on either side, although some consist of multiple thin bars all wrapped together, allowing the baby to grasp and turn the toy. These toys allow your baby to explore what it's like to use their hands and touch things, which helps their fine motor skills develop.
When choosing a grasping toy, make sure to look for the following:
- How thick are the grasping bars? Bars that are too thick may be too large for a baby to hold, making them frustrated and negating the learning effects of the toy in the first place.
- What special features does the toy have? Some come in cool colors, like bright blues and reds, that make them appealing to babies. Others have textured bars that add a tactile sensation to the experience. In addition, you may find some that make noises, such as rattling, that make them fun to play with.
- How big is the toy? Toys come in a variety of sizes, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for something to carry around in your diaper bag or keep at home.
When your little one is teething, there's nothing quite like a teething toy that soothes. Although these toys are designed for a specific purpose – soothing their gums and making the process of breaking a tooth through them less miserable – they also help your baby's development. How? The sensations produced by placing one of these rings in their mouth help prepare them for the food they'll be eating later on. In addition, the cool feeling of the ring and any ridged or bumpy surfaces create tactile sensations when babies hold them in their hands.
Some suggestions for choosing a teething ring include:
Consider size. These toys need to be small enough for babies to grasp comfortably. You'll also need to carry it around in your diaper bag in case your little one gets fussy while you're on the go.
- Additional benefits. Does the ring need to be kept cold? Does it have a textured surface, or is it smooth? Textures add to the overall experience and are definitely a factor to consider when picking one out.
Play mats are incredibly fun. They lay flat on the floor and contain numerous things to keep your baby entertained for quite some time. Since you have to conduct supervised tummy time with your baby every day in order to help strengthen their muscles and get them used to the position, why not place them on a play mat and do two things at once?
A good play mat is more than just something that lies on the floor and provides a soft place for your baby to lay. Instead, these toys consist of plenty of activities, from rings to pull on to mirrors to look at. Because of this, they help your child's development in more ways than one.
Here are a few things to look for in a play mat:
- What's its overall size? You need a play mat that's large enough to fit on your floor, without being so big that it takes over your entire space. Measure the area that you plan to place the mat on, and then find one that fits those dimensions.
How padded is it? The best play mats are soft enough to provide some cushioning for your baby without being so soft that they sink into it and are unable to move (which can be a safety hazard).
- What does it include? Choosing a play mat with rattles and textured toys and one that allows for more interactivity, so your baby can stay busy.
There's nothing more classic than a baby rattle. Who doesn't have at least one on their shower registry or received one for a gift, despite listing it on there? A rattle is something that is guaranteed to keep baby busy for a while, without making all of the noise of an electronic toy (more on those shortly) that will make mom or dad nuts. These rattles come in an array of different styles and sizes, and the noise, colors, and movements provoked by them will help your child with their development.
In order to choose the best rattle for your little one, consider the following:
- What is it made of? Rattles that consist of a hard plastic exterior can lead to a little bit of, well, violence, especially when your baby really gets into it and begins flinging their arm back and forth with the rattle in their hand. In order to avoid getting clocked by one, choose a rattle made of soft yet sturdy fabric material, like felt or wool.
- How loud is the rattle? Some rattles come filled with beads that make a loud sound, similar to a maraca, while others are quieter. You might want to have a few different sound options on hand, not only for the sake of variety, but also so you have the option of using quieter ones during the night and louder ones during the day.
- What's its size and weight? You need a rattle that's just the right size to fit comfortably in your baby's grip. Anything too large will cause them to get frustrated trying to move it around. The same is true of its weight.
We've already mentioned just how important it is for your baby to experience different textures. Buying toys that are designed for this very purpose is one way to help give them a tactile experience that helps them develop in the right manner. A texture toy can be anything from a puffy, padded baby book that has felt, fake fur, and slightly rough patches on its pages to a larger board filled with fun things for your baby to touch and play with.
Wondering how to choose a texture toy? Here are a few ideas:
- Which textures are included? While buying toys that have only one texture is an option, where's the fun in that? Choose toys that have a variety to entertain your little one. This will help your child's development and keep them from getting bored, simply because there's more to play with.
- Are there any textures that your child doesn't like? Some kids have an aversion to certain textures at a young age. If the toy has them built into it, then your child will avoid the toy as much as possible, making it not worth purchasing.
- Is the toy brightly colored? Most baby toys are, and these super bright colors are very appealing to children. The brighter the toy, the more likely they are to use it.
Movement and Noise-Making Toys
Now, here are some toys that can really help your child's development, even though you might complain about them. While the movement toys aren't really the problem – the noise-making ones tend to be. These particular toys are electronic, need batteries to operate, and often make a ruckus. However, your child will likely enjoy them and actually learn from them, simply because they make noise (but those sounds often grate on a parent's nerves).
The other type of toys mentioned here, the movement ones, usually consist of wheels or a series of things that move, such as small rings on a rod set into a frame, similar to an abacus. These toys move around on demand, and your child will delight in pushing them, moving their parts, and enjoying the tactile sensations that are built into them.
How should you choose these toys? Keep these things in mind:
- How loud is the toy? Look for one that has a built-in volume control, so it’s adjustable as needed, for those times when you're tired of hearing that same sound over and over again.
- How big is the movement toy? Some of these toys are enormous and take up quite a bit of room, while others are smaller. Pick one that will fit comfortably in your home.
In Summary: Keeping a Variety of Toys on Hand
If a single toy can help your child's development, then a variety is always better. When buying toys for your little one, think of their purpose. Do you think that they'll help your child with fine or large motor skills? If it fits into one of the categories on this list, then yes, it definitely will. All of them will positively affect your child's development.
Also, since each toy serves a different purpose, it's always a good idea to have more than one type on hand, in order to ensure their development is well-rounded. Plus, let’s be honest, babies get bored! So, a variety of toys will keep them entertained, learning, and developing!