Toy shopping for your newborn can be overwhelming; it’s difficult to know what to look for. There’s a huge push for toys to be educational these days, but how can a newborn begin their education just by playing?
For the first few months it’s common to think that a baby will do nothing but sleep, eat, poop, repeat and that wouldn’t be too far off the mark. But the truth is, play is the child’s work and toys are the tools they need to learn and process huge amounts of information that they receive in their first year of life. Here’s a quick guide on what to look for when buying those first few baby toys.
As we all know, children tend to experience new things with their mouths. This is because they have more nerve endings per millimetre in their mouths than in any other part of their body. The mouth is their window to the world. Through it, they discover what softness, hardness and firmness feels like by letting it explore different objects (or fingers). Toys that will help your child’s mouth get ready for complex eating are ideal, as well as anything that can soothe those pesky teething pains.
Babies will enjoy and notice the differences in the textures surrounding them, even without the dexterity to scoop, pour and mould material. Most babies will prefer soft, warm textures, but this can change as their curiosity grows. Look for toys that present a variety of textures to the child, letting them discover the differences between them through play.
Get a whiff of that!
From as young as three days old babies can recognise their mother’s scent. Comfort objects such as blankets or teddys that are infused with Mum’s smell will soothe your baby and can also trigger one of those rare early smiles when coming across them unawares.
Look, what’s that?
Children’s eyesight can take a few months to develop, but in order to help it along toys with strong contrasting colours (black and white, red, blue and yellow) are best for your baby. In the first 12 months, your baby’s sight will develop from seeing objects that are ten to 13 inches in front of their face, to recognising objects and people from across a room. Get them started on their vocabulary early by pointing out the different colours and shapes of their toys.
Did I make that noise?
All children love making noise. The pots and pans you’re trying to cook with can suddenly become your toddlers brand new drum set and the same instinct can be found in your baby. Rattles and shakers encourage self-expression and babies discover that by manipulating their toys they can create a variety of sounds in different ways. Don’t forget to applaud and cheer your baby on when they successfully produce noise from their toy.
Growing with your child
Children are expensive. We know this, so we don’t need our children’s toys booting up the bill any more than they already do. So it’s imperative to look for toys that will grow with our children. Toys with add-ons or reconfigurations that can develop with your baby month-to-month are ideal investments.
Tell us what your baby’s first toy is or was by leaving a photo in the comments.