Toys and babies are synonymous. As soon as a baby is born, or even before, guests tend to start showering you with toys for baby’s use. However, it is a lesser-known and understood for a fact that a baby does not even need any toys for at least the first two months after they take birth. They might hold on to toys or anything else that looks attractive to them, however, the “playing” with toys factors comes into the picture only at a later stage.
Over time, when they reach the third or fourth month is when they start discovering toys as something that could entertain them. This is the phase when parents should ideally look for toys with different sounds that can amuse them and perhaps, buy soft, plush toys that can save themselves from also hurting themselves. Gone are those days when toys fell under a particular set of categories. In today’s day, there are so many kinds and types of toys out there, it might also get confusing for you, as a parent, and to determine what toys would suit your baby’s growth the best. Obviously, a toy that is used by a 3-month-old and a toy used by a 3-year old has to be differentiated.
At least for the initial weeks, easily up to the 14-16th week of their birth, a baby’s behaviour with a toy is very similar to how a pup or a kitten plays with toys. They would just reach out to the toy on the basis of how attractive it looks. Toys like fuzzy balls and stuffed animals are of most interest to them. They get delighted by simple things like the sounds of the toy or the colour of the toy. They don’t care about expensive toys that can do so much more – simply because they don’t need it at that age.
What is a baby’s development curve in their first six months?
Understanding this can really help you determine what toys would suit your baby the best. A baby’s development is really quick in their first six months. They really start to get interested in their environment and discovering things of interest. This is also why choosing the right toys can majorly help your baby’s growth as a whole. At least for the first month, a baby’s vision is rather hazy and unclear. They can only focus on objects that are about 20-30 cm away. However, a baby’s hearing is well-developed right from birth which is why they turn to every sound they hear and also tend to react to it.
Especially by the time they reach the 4th or 5th-month mark that is when they start to understand the motive of a toy and develop an interest in toys. This is also for a fact that around the 5th month is when babies tend to grow some control over their tongue and lips. Prior to the 5th month, all they have some control over is their hands and legs at the most. The first toys of your baby should be chosen with extreme consideration as it is directly proportional to the safety and health of the baby.
For example, as you now know they do not have any control over their mouth or tongue by the 5th month, it might be rather fatal if you get toys that have loose parts and can possibly be swallowed by the baby. It is imperative to ensure that you do not buy toys that can be chewed, are painted with toxic materials and you should also avoid toys that have sharp edges for obvious reasons. Checking the labels for hazardous information is also, hence, becomes necessary at this point. A lot of parents might tend to attach toys to the baby’s crib with the help of an elastic string or similar materials, however, this poses a risk as the baby can strangle or hurt themselves with such materials. So let us dissect this topic a little more and determine what toys are the best for your baby through their growing years.
What features should you look out for to get age-appropriate toys for your baby?
Until a baby completely develops their eyesight, all they get attracted by or are interested in is sounds. Rattles, chimes, music; essentially, just sound-generating musical toys could be a good option during their first months.
As against the general understanding, babies cannot identify or get attracted to a lot of colours at once. They tend to take interest in bright coloured yet high-contrast and patterned toys. High contrast toys also help babies understand and differentiate between patterns. Ove time, probably after the sixth month, however, they tend to start loving and developing interest in bright coloured and multiple patterned toys.
You must have noticed it for yourself how excited babies get when they see moving objects. The spark in their eyes is beyond normal! This is because when they are still developing eyesight, though they cannot see fixed items clearly. However, they can notice movements, and hence, they get fascinated with it. Toys like walking dolls and robots could be a good choice – only if used under and around adult supervision.
- Dangling Toys
Around the time when babies start to sit up, around the 4th-month mark, dangling toys could be of great delight to them. Babies have a natural instinct of grasping things and hence, they yield great entertainment from dangling toys. Also during showers, you would have noticed how babies try to grasp water – you might as well get something they can actually grasp and have fun with!
- Plush Toys
Toys that are not similar when touched or feel different in terms of their surface area excellent for your baby to understand different textures. They let your babies explore and understand the difference between, perhaps, what a scratchy material is and what a soft material is. Look out for toys that are different in shapes and textures. For example, you could get them a monkey that has a rough texture to depict the monkey’s hair and also a fish which has a soft texture, however, it should be considered for a fact that babies begin to understand and differentiate between textures around the age of 11 months.
All babies have different personalities, hence, thought there could be a guideline of what kind of toys one should buy, there can never be a definite framework. For the very initial days, you could actually even just look for things around the house that can double up as toys because babies really don’t care. All they want is something that is attractive. Spending too much on toys might not even be a great idea because your baby will outgrow those toys within a few weeks, especially during the initial months. During the first few months, hand your baby a lid or a spatula and they will be as happy. Fruits and vegetables could be fun to play with by virtue of their different shapes and sizes. Besides, most fruits and vegetables do not even pose any risk even if bit or chewed on by error! Above all, be flexible and do not force a toy on your baby only because you bought it. It’s their toy and their days – let them have some fun! They would anyway grow up eventually and be forced into doing things they might not completely like!