Babies are little adventurers, who learn by doing. Playing gives your child an enormous opportunity to learn and develop new skills at his own pace. The toys available to him can help him shape his development in a good way.
It may seem that choosing a toy for your baby should be easy, but you can walk through a toy store without finding the right toy to choose from the arrays of toys available. Here are some instructions to follow while deciding the type of toys that can enhance your baby’s development.
Guidelines for choosing the right toys
- Babies love to take apart, put back together, pull out, put in, add on, and build up. They also love adventures. Choose toys that are “open-ended” in the sense that your child can play many different games with them. For example, wooden blocks or chunky plastic interlocking blocks can be used to make a road, a zoo, a bridge, or a spaceship. Toys like this spark your child’s imagination and help him develop problem-solving and logical thinking skills.
- We all have had the experience of buying a toy that our child plays with for two days and never touches again. You can guard against that by looking for toys that can be fun at different developmental stages. For example, small plastic animals are fun for a baby who may make a shoebox house for them, while an older baby can use them to act out a story he makes up.
- Play gives children the chance to practice new skills over and over again. Toys that give kids a chance to figure something out on their own or with a little coaching build their logical thinking skills and help them become persistent problem-solvers. They also help children develop spatial relations skills (understanding how things fit together), hand-eye coordination, and excellent motor skills (using the small muscles in the hands and fingers).
- During your child’s third year, his creativity is taking off as he is now able to take on the role of someone else (like a king) and imagine that something (like a block) is something else (like a piece of cake). Look for toys that your child can use as he develops and acts out stories. Pretend play builds language and literacy skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to sequence (put events in a logical order).
- While adults and children can play almost anything together, some toys are designed for adult participation. As your child approaches age 3 and beyond, early board games that involve using one’s memory or simple board games that do not require reading are fun for all ages to play. Consider starting a “family game night” when all of you play together. Board games encourage counting, matching, and memory skills, as well as listening skills and self-control (as children learn to follow the rules). They also nurture language and relationship-building skills. Another critical benefit is teaching children to be gracious winners and how to cope with losing.
Remember to keep all these toys in a backpack to ensure their safety and to enhance your baby’s organizational skill. Also, try to wear a diaper for your baby to keep the playing space clean.