Shopping for baby toys?
Not all shiny toys you see on the store shelf are appropriate for your child. Some of them can be quite hazardous to your little one.
Toys help your baby develop both cognitive and motor skills. In this light, you want to choose toys that are appropriate for your baby’s age and developmental needs.
That doesn’t mean you overlook the fun part. The best toys should spark the baby’s imagination and nudge them to interact with other kids. Because of the different ages and gender, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to toys.
But how do you pick out age-appropriate toys for your child?
Read on to find out!
How to Choose Age-Appropriate Baby Toys
The one thing you want to remember is to keep things simple. Complicated toys may frustrate your baby and fail to serve the intended purpose. Toys that provide a learning challenge in a fun way are always recommended.
Here’s a general guide on toys for different age groups:
0 to 6 Months
When is the right time to introduce your newborn to toys?
Around the 8th week, your baby will have started pushing themselves up on their hands and knees. They’ll also start noticing colorful and sound-producing items. So, this is a good time to get your baby their first toy!
Important things to keep in mind include:
- Buy interactive toys, like those that chime when moved
- Stock sensory play toys to help develop touch, taste, and smell
- Buy toys that are safe for chewing
Some of the best toys for babies under 6 months include activity mats, rattles, teething rings, and board books. For rattles and teethers, ensure that you choose those that are easy to grasp in their little hands.
You can also find toys to help your baby with teething problems, such as aching gums. Some of these teethers can be cooled in your refrigerator to help soothe your baby’s gums.
6 to 12 Months
At this stage, your baby is learning how to focus their vision and exploring the environment around them.
So, choose toys that’ll help them in this regard. Consider:
- Brightly colored toys that appeal to their sight
- Soft, lightweight toys that they can hold by themselves
- Toys that produce sound to stimulate their sense of hearing
Good toy picks include floating bath toys, light blocks of wood or plastic, cloth or plastic boards with pictures, soft washable dolls, and stuffed animals.
Since your child will spend most of their time looking at your face, you can take advantage of this by buying them stacking photo blocks that use human faces. Change the photos and letters occasionally so that your little one doesn’t get bored.
1 to 2 Years Old (Toddlers)
At this stage, curiosity is heightened in your little bundle of joy. Your baby may also show tantrums and extreme experimentation with objects, including their toys.
Toddlers will show interest in anything that can aid their walking, pushing, riding and climbing activities. In this regard:
- Select toys that are sturdy to withstand the toddler’s curious nature
- Choose toys that’ll improve their motor skills
- Buy toys that introduce them to new vocabulary since kids at this age are actively learning language
Some of the best developmental toys for babies aged 1 to 2 years include kiddy cars, push-and-pull toys, ride-on toys, nesting blocks, and stacking toys. Baby active toys such as wooden vehicles, puppets, and even water toys will also come in handy.
2 to 3 Years Old
During the preschool years, your child will be acquiring socializing skills. You’ll notice them taking on a lot of pretense roles. It’s, therefore, important to buy toys that’ll help in improving their imagination.
Some quick tips to help you pick toys for preschoolers include:
- Choose outdoor toys to allow your child to play with others
- Consider toys that’ll boost creativity and imagination
- Pick toys that help in the development of fine motor skills
Some great picks for this stage include chalk and blackboards, building blocks, simple puzzles, housekeeping toys, and dress-up clothes.
3 to 4 Years Old
Kids between the age of 3 and 4 get excited with noise. Their movement is much more defined and you’ll find them jumping, running, hopping, and climbing during their free time.
This energy is good and beneficial to their development. Thus, choose toys that match up with their preferred activities.
Some great tips include:
- Select outdoor ride-on toys
- Pick toy-sets that add noise into their play
Some of the potential picks for this category include sandboxes, tricycles, drum sets (and other musical instruments) for kids, play scenes, and puppets.
Baby Toys to Avoid
Your baby’s safety is a huge consideration when choosing not only toys but just about anything else. Try to avoid toys that may put your child in danger. For example, ride-on toys that move too fast may not be appropriate for babies below 4 years old.
Also, baby toys that are too small are dangerous as they can be swallowed or inserted into the ears or nose. Avoid buying these types of toys, especially for children in their exploration and experimentation stages.
Additionally, steer clear of old toys, even if they’re cheaper hand-me-down alternatives. While they may have sentimental value to your family, they’re most probably worn out or broken, and thus, a safety hazard to your baby.
Choose the Right Baby Toy for Your Bundle of Joy!
Remember, parenting and child development is a journey for both you and your child. Understanding your little one’s personality and needs is the key to choosing the best baby toys for them.
It takes a lot of time and interaction to know your baby’s likes and dislikes. So, take time to observe how they play with their new toys and make necessary changes if need be.
For more insightful reads, check out our latest posts on parenting issues.