Age-Appropriate Toys: What’s Your Baby Playing With?
Age-appropriate toys not only bring your little ones a lot of joy, it helps them develop a wide range of motor skills and hand coordination skills as well. Always choose those that are safe yet interesting for your baby.
It’s time to play! This is when you need to choose the best baby-friendly toys that not only make your baby laugh; but also think, move and practise important skills at the same time. Check out what kind of toys would suit your child as he reaches a certain age.
Birth to 3 months
During the first three months, your baby will enjoy things he can look at and listen to. In the first month, he is only able to see clearly for as far as 12 inches and will be particularly attracted to human faces. Look for toys that are: bright in colour and have contrasting patterns designed to play gentle sounds and soft music like lullabiesin the form of objects that move slowly and produce a gentle sound
Mobile: A mobile provides visual stimulation and promotes brain development. Buy those with vibrant colours and cheerful patterns. You can even opt for those that come with music. Keep in mind, though, that some mobiles are meant to stimulate baby and others are meant to soothe baby to sleep. Make sure you use it at appropriate times. If your baby gets too excited by the mobile, he might take longer to fall asleep or have trouble settling down. Also, always keep a mobile high above the crib and away from your baby as it poses a strangulation hazard.
Soft books with high-contrast patterns: Get books with soft pages and interesting patterns designed for babies. He will enjoy watching you turn the pages as you read to him. This gives you bonding time with your baby as you amuse him with the colours and patterns in the book.
Sensory toys: It’s a joy to watch little ones squeal with delight at the sound of a soft toy that tweets and squeaks when you press it. The pressing motion also helps with baby’s motor skills.
3 to 6 months
When your baby reaches 3 to 6 months of age, he will start exploring what his hands, feet and voice can do. Also, this is the time when he may put just about anything and everything in his mouth. Toys for this age range should be: large enough so your baby can’t put it in his mouth safe for chewing objects he can hold, throw and make noise with
Lightweight rattles: By this age, most babies are intrigued by anything that makes noise – as long as they are not too loud or they will startle your baby. A rattle or musical rattle will be a perfect toy. The noise from shaking the rattle will please your baby for months. You can also put on music and rattle the toy along with the beat to help baby learn to appreciate music and rhythm.
Activity centre: An activity centre is a great toy for a child at this age since it provides a series of activities that your baby can use to begin to develop motor skills. This toy is basically a rack that comes with dangling toys and/or from which you can hang toys of your own choosing. Until your baby begins to sit up on his own, an activity centre in the crib is a good option. Once the baby can sit up and wants to be more mobile, a free standing unit or one on a mat on the floor will be the best option.
Stuffed animals or soft toys: At this age, your child may enjoy having a soft animal toy to accompany him when he goes to sleep or wherever he goes. It’s this age when his little bear or tiger doll becomes his best friend. When choosing such toys, avoid those with little buttons that can come off or wires that can poke the baby, or has something your child can remove and swallow.
Musical toys: Music is a delight for babies as they begin to recognise melodies. Many age-appropriate musical toys have built-in music. Some may require your child to do something to make the music.
6 to 9 months
Your baby will use creeping, or bottom shuffling, as a way of getting around. Between 7 to 9 months, your baby may transition to proper crawling using his arms to power him along. Your baby’s fine motor skills at 9 months will be developing rapidly, and he’ll be working hard to perfect the pincer grasp – using his thumb and pointing finger to pick up objects. At this age, he needs a variety of different types of toys to satisfy his curiosity and enhance his learning about his environment. These include those that:
- are easy to pick up
- stimulates interest
- make sounds when played with
- move when pushed
Toys for developing motor skill: This type of toy is essential to help your child enhance his motor skills as he begins to crawl and try to pull himself up and walk. Put toys out of his reach and encourage him to start moving forward to the toy. Go for toys that combine many different activities with sounds and flashing lights and those that are sturdy enough to provide some support as your baby begins to pull himself to a standing position.
Moving toys: As your baby moves, she will be delighted with toys that do the same. Sturdy toy cars are good toys to push around the rug. Or look for toys that pop up when your baby pushes just the right spot.
Busy boards: Much like an activity board, a busy board is also an activity centre that can be attached to a crib – but with more things for the baby to ‘do’. Typically, these boards have spinning parts and other activities that require the child to do something to make the board move or make a noise. The motion and sounds will be intriguing for your child and he will begin to learn that his actions can make something happen.
Balls: Balls may be simple toys, but it gives your baby the opportunity to move around with it. He will like throwing it or dropping it, and then picking it up again (usually you will do the picking up). Through how the ball moves, rolls and how you retrieve it, he will start to understand and develop his motor skills.
Blocks: As this is a time when your baby starts picking things up with her fingers, large blocks make great toys. She will enhance her motor skills as she stacks and unstacks the blocks, then puts them into a container and dumps them on the floor. Choose those blocks with contrasting patterns and pictures that can attract the baby’s attention.
Toy Safety Tips
- Avoid toys with sharp points and edges.
- Put toys intended for older kids out of reach of babies and toddlers.
- Kids love to yank and pull apart toys, so choose sturdy toys that don’t have loose, moving parts that can easily come off.
- Buy age-appropriate toys. Read the label, and if it’s not recommended for children under a certain age, then don’t buy it for your baby.
- Search for toys that are washable or include the words non-toxic on the label, since so many toys end up in baby’s mouth.
- Reduce choking risk by skipping any items that include parts that are smaller than 1.75 inches in diameter for babies and toddlers. A general rule: Any object that can fit into an empty toilet paper roll is a choking hazard and should be out of reach.
- Toys stuffed with any kind of beans or pellets should be avoided, too, because a baby can choke or suffocate if any of those pellets were to spill out of the toy.
- Stay away from toys with loose string, ribbons, or cords because they can become tangled around your baby’s neck.
- Avoid toy guns or other toys that shoot objects. Even the simplest versions that shoot plastic objects can cause eye injuries and present choking hazards.
- Beware of toy chests and toy storage containers. They can pinch little fingers and a child can climb in, get trapped, and suffocate.
- As a general rule, remove all toys from your baby’s crib when your child is sleeping.