Introduction

Before jumping out to buy any toy for your infant, it is best to first find out how far along he has come in his social and motor development. This will then guide you in deciding which toys will provide safe, entertaining fun, while also aiding his development. Also, when it comes to play,never underestimate how much of your words and actions your baby understands. So, keep talking. keep demonstrating. keep showing.

 

0 – 3 months

Developmental Factors

  • Babies are born near sighted, with a pretty blurry vision. However their vision and eye coordination develops as they grow
  • It is much harder for a baby to appreciate soft, pastel colours, as opposed to the brighter, sharper colours
  • At this stage, babies cannot successfully reach out to touch objects of interest. Hence they will depend on you to bring these objects close
  • Babies are born with very mature ears and will respond to all manner of sounds. However sudden sounds tend to alarm them.
  • Babies are born with an involuntary grasping reflex and that’s why they tend to wrap their fingers around yours when you place your hand in their palms
  • The first few weeks following birth, babies usually have their hands balled up into a fist. However, sometime before the second month runs out, they begin to deliberately alternate between opening and closing their hands
  • In the second month, some babies start making attempts at reaching for and holding objects. By the third month they are batting at objects and their better developed eye-hand coordination allows them to deliberately reach for objects which catch their attention. However it may not be until the fourth month before they can actually hold unto the big objects. Holding smaller objects, comes sometime later, by about the sixth or seventh month.

Suggested Toys

Colourful hand held toys with lots of contrasting patterns

Though your baby can obviously not hold a hand held toy himself, you can do the entertaining by playfully waving the toy around so that he follows its movement and maybe raises his hands towards it. Or you can put the toy close to your 2 or 3 month old baby (when he is lying on his tummy) and watch him challenge himself to reach for it or grasp it.

Music box with unbreakable toys that move on top

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This will definitely be a big treat for your baby’s eyes and ears. Ensure you go for a box that plays music you can stand, just in case your baby ‘insists’ on listening to it over and over again

Brightly coloured soft books with cloth pages

It’s never too early to reach for the books. However since your baby is still developing his senses, don’t get him overwhelmed or disinterested with the complex. Stick to books with simple pictures that are distributed one per page. So, after safely snuggling him in your laps, open up the book and his eyes will travel with every page turn. His interest in books is sure to be aroused as your voice acts out the stories.

Colourful, patterned music mobile

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Babies actually tend to follow the movements of people in a room. Hence, even when you have to leave the room, the mobile will keep your baby pleasantly occupied, meeting his visual and audible needs. Keep the mobile in sight but out of dangerous reach

Colourful Rattles

Shake the rattle and your baby will respond. Move the rattle from side to side and his eyes will follow. You can also get the wrist or ankle types which will teach him that by moving relevant body parts, he too can control sounds

Soft sensory toys

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These are perfect in helping your baby develop his senses. Look out for the ones which make fun sounds when pressed

Colourful playmat with permanently attached hanging toys

This will give your baby long hours of entertainment, even when you are unavailable for play. Ensure you tug firmly at the hanging toys to ensure they can’t be tugged off.

Unbreakable mirror

Your baby is sure to be intrigued by his reflection in an unbreakable mirror hanging over his cot

 Play Tips

  • Point out colours, names, characters and movements to your baby
  • Switch through sound settings of toys until you get one that soothes your baby
  • Imitate sounds and with an animated face and a dance, single along to music
  • Look at mobiles and hanging toys from your baby’s view and re-create a variety of new views by switching the toy or your baby’s position
  • Shake hand held toys in front of your baby, letting his eyes follow the sounds and movements
  • Excitedly point him to his reflection in the mirror

 

3 – 6 months

Developmental Factors

Sometime during this stage, most babies can

  • See better and further
  • Roll over
  • Deliberately reach for objects
  • Hold objects; first the big ones, then later, the smaller ones
  • Sit down; first with support, then later, independently
  • Express emotions with smiles and babbles

Suggested toys

Activity centre

With the range of activities which the activity centre provides, your baby will develop his motor skills. However stick to the crib activity centres until your baby can actually sit up

Lightweight rattle

Unlike before, your baby can now actually interact with the rattle on his own; reaching for it and wobbling it just to hear the intriguing sounds

Activity bars

These are perfect entertainment for long car rides. On the other hand, it is not necessarily ideal for a crib because it may end up becoming a major distraction for your tired baby

Stuffed animals

You can probably never go wrong with a stuffed animal. However ensure that it has no buttons which can come off and subsequently become choking hazards. Also be sure there are no wires that could jab at your baby

Board books

When it comes to books, your baby would probably no longer be content being a passive onlooker. He would love turning the pages himself and chewing and hitting it around. Hence, the board books are built to tolerate all the abuse your baby may throw at it

Musical toys

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Musical toys will teach your baby that music is just as much fun when made (by pressing a button, turning a knob, etc) as when listened to.

Waterproof squeaky toys

Bath time can become more fun through introduction of squeaky toys which your baby can explore in the bath waters

Teething rings

With those primary teeth breaking through, it is perfect to include colourful teething rings to your baby’s collection. Beyond offering succour to his gum, your baby is bound to find other fun uses for them

DVDs and CDs

Car rides can be more fun with age appropriate musical dvds and cds. Even at home, watching the dances that accompany the music would be fascinating to your baby

Play Tips

  • Hold a toy in front of him, identify its different colours and parts and describe how it works
  • Point him to his reflection in the mirror
  • Place him on his tummy and place a toy in front of him, challenging him to reach for it
  • Animatedly hum or sing along with the music
  • Get on the floor to see his view of overhead toys and occasionally create variety of views by changing either his or the toy’s position
  • Take him through feeling the different texture and hearing the different sounds  unique to each toy
  • Teach him the action/reaction concept by placing a rattle in his hand and gently shaking it
  • Animatedly point out motion and lights to him
  • Teach him how to pass objects from one hand to the next by getting a rattle big enough to be held in both hands. He’ll grab with one hand first, then the other, before letting go altogether

 

6 – 9 months

Developmental Factors

Sometime during this time most babies…

  • Begin to see the world in three dimension
  • Will now be able to see all the rainbow colours
  • Will have better eye-hand-coordination that helps them deliberately locate, pick up and move objects in whatever direction they want
  • Begin to crawl around
  • Have largely improved gross motor skills and better refined fine motor skills

Suggested Toys

Dolls and stuffed animals

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Your baby is likely to have more than a momentary interest in dolls and stuffed animals, as he inspects them and then throws them around. To avoid accidents, ensure to get a washable, flame resistant one with no removable parts such as plastic eyes or ribbons. A favourite from his stuffed animal collection is likely to evolve, sooner or later

Colourful Ball

This may just be the toy to help you lose any left over baby fat as your baby sends you on a running spree after discovering that once he drops the ball, you go after it

Colourful Blocks with contrasting pictures and patterns

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These are bound to keep your baby well engaged and also improve his motor skills as he is challenged to load and unload the blocks into containers

Activity centre

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Since your baby can now sit up on his own and better control his body, a floor activity centre is perfect for his adequate engagement. He will have fun reaching for buttons and dials which activate different kinds of sounds. It is advised you go for activity centres with movable parts that will sufficiently engage your baby by requiring him to do something in order to get a motion or sound response.

Winkels

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This is an affordable toy which is easy to hold. Your baby can have fun pulling and twisting it, shaking it to hear the rattle sound and chewing on it

Musical table

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It will be great to get a musical table with leg extensions. This affords it to grow with your baby’s height. The table will be a perfect play toy, with its variety of songs and activities. Also, with this toy housing shapes, numbers and colours, fun with an educational edgeof learning is sure

Colourful Interactive books

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At this age, the soft books may not necessarily still interest your baby. In their place or in addition to them, get interactive books with fun features such as doors, flip flaps, buttons, etc

Toys for motor skills development

At this stage your baby will be all over the place and may even be doing much more than crawling. He may already be pulling himself up to stand and walk. Hence be careful to include toys which have been specifically built to develop his motor skills

Play Tips

  • Together with him, explore the features of the toy by pointing out colours, shapes, animals, etc
  • Encourage him to push and crawl after toys
  • Set him up to fill and empty containers with objects like blocks. Also describe every act by exclaiming words like empty, full, in and out
  • Vocally demonstrate activities on the toys
  • Encourage interaction and turn-taking by rolling toys between yourselves
  • Encourage him to go after toys which roll away
  • Teach him how to locate objects with sounds by playing a game of hide and seek. This can be done by showing him a toy and then hiding it behind your back. Next, make a sound with the toy so that he goes in search of it

 

9 – 12 months

During these months…

  • Most babies get much more mobile, with some walking and others, attempting to walk
  • The manual dexterity of babies have largely improved and by the 12th month it is not uncommon to find babies wanting to feed themselves
  • Babies become more relational, blabbing away at objects and people
  • Babies are more interactive, reaching out for every and anything within reach. So, keep dangerous items locked up

Suggested Toys

Push toys

With your baby geared up for walking and standing, push toys may just become his favourite. However, since he is still wobbly on his feet, be sure to get one with a wide base

Shape sorters

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At this stage, your baby probably has no idea what to do with a shape sorter. However as he discovers that each shape will only fit in one particular way, his problem solving skills are built. Also, you can engage him by pointing out the different shapes and colours

Soft, bouncy balls

Before, you were the one always going after the balls. But now, your child can actually go after the balls and retrieve them. Since he will not yet be a good catcher or controller of balls, go for the soft, bouncy types

Blocks

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At this stage your child discovers new uses for his blocks as he stacks two or three up and also enjoys the fun of knocking them over

Books

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These are perfect for your child’s speech development. The interactive ones will even be more fun for him. Ensure they are colourful and filled with pictures. Also, be willing to animatedly play out the characters in the book

Toy telephone

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Get a phone that looks like the one you use; whether mobile or desk phone. It is sure to be a blast for both you and your baby as you watch him mimic you

Interactive toys

Interactive toys will be a hit with your baby as he develops better physical dexterity. With children, noisier is always better. So you could try out age appropriate musical toys. Or to spend less, give him safe household items he can make some noise with, such as an old plastic cup and spoon

Play Tips

  • Using descriptive words, demonstrate how toys work and then let him experiment with them at his own pace
  • For shape sorting, start with the simple; circles. Then when he has mastered it, you can move to the next, the square. Then on and on it will go
  • Encourage turn taking by building blocks or loading baskets in turns
  • Develop his language by giving names to and initiating conversations with his stuffed animals
  • Indulge him when he keeps repeating an action. He is learning that his actions have reactions
  • Take him through the motion of what he does with the toys
  • Encourage him to stand by drawing his attention to toys at the top of objects like chairs or buttons at the top of tall toys
  • Talk about the numbers, colours, characters, etc on every toy
  • Pick out letters and numbers on toys and find words which they represent e.g. ‘e is for egg’, ‘1 is for your one nose’, etc
  • Sing along to music
  • Keep reading to him, playing out parts, pointing out objects, colours, etc
  • Encourage him to build and pull down blocks

 

(Courtesy: newhealthguide, fisherprice, 3dmusic.be, babycity, amazon, aliexpress, imsupermommy, obantoycupboard, landmarkshops, alllmodern, coolmompicks, shak.shuka, momfinds, healthyfamilymatters, disneymovierewards, madeformums, alibaba)