Although a newborn's life seems to consist of feeding, sleeping and nappy changing, did you know that playtime is a vital part of your baby's development? Playtime can allow babies to grow emotionally, cognitively and socially too. It can also encourage language development as you communicate verbally and physically as you play with your baby.
It doesn't have to be tiring or time-consuming. Setting aside a little bit of time each day for playtime can make a big difference to their growth.
Although research has shown that play benefits their growth, too many toys can overwhelm babies. Knowing which baby toys are beneficial is ideal if you are a new or expectant parent or you are looking for a gift for a loved one. Our ultimate guide will provide you with guidance and knowledge into which toys are practical for babies of different ages whilst saving you a lot of money and space at home.
Top tips for practical baby toys:
- Choose from simplistic designs and shapes that are easy for your baby to engage with. Let your baby use their imagination as they play.
- Instead of buying baby toys that make noises, make the noise yourself and engage with your baby vocally as you play; this will allow growth in language development.
- Multi-purpose toys are a great choice, for example, teething rattle toys. These can be used for both playtime and when the baby is teething.
Why are toys important to a baby's development?
Your baby's brain will develop in the first year quicker than any other time. Many of their senses that they learn from will be incorporated into playtime, including seeing, moving and touching. Not only do babies learn from playing with you, but baby toys can play a vital role in their development and learning.
The best baby toys for 0-3 months
Through the first three months of life, babies will start to recognise your voice and your face. They will also become curious about their surroundings and develop more vital physical abilities and coordination in their movements.
You can encourage their learning process further by reading to them and using vocal expressions while you play.
Choose from age-appropriate toys for younger babies. During the latter of this development stage, they will start to use their hands and reach out for their toys. As they begin to move more and use their hands and feet, toys that tiny fingers can grip onto are great for their amusement whilst at home or out and about in the pram.
Pick from easy, small and soft toys for your baby to hold onto. DouDou's are soft, not too big for a baby to hold and can be used as a comforter.
Additionally, an activity ball of a small size is an excellent choice as this can be popped in the car, in your travel bag or the pram whilst you are on the move. Rattle toys with holding rings are also accessible for them to grip onto and interact with as they move their arms more.
In conclusion, for up to three-month-old babies, choose from soft and small toys. These are best for babies of this age.
The best baby toys for 3-6 months
At three to six months, babies start to understand the world around them. They can focus more easily on objects and will begin to look around more. As babies pass the three month age group, they will also start to grab and mouth objects even more to confirm what they see. As they start to use their mouths more, be careful not to buy toys that have loose parts or small pieces to prevent choking.
Your baby will have more control of their body, use their fingers and hands to explore, communicate with different sounds and use facial expressions. Due to this increased interest in their environment, many toys can keep them entertained and will contribute to their continued growth and development.
There will be a lot of tummy time at this age and, at around four months old, your baby will be able to hold their head steady, and going on to six months, they will begin to sit up with little support. With their bodies growing and movements becoming more independent, playmats are an ideal playtime purchase for this age.
Whilst they play on their playmat, you can start to introduce a range of sensory toys to expand their imagination further. Hang musical toys over the playmat or experiment with different textured cloth books that they can feel with their fingers. Parents also favour activity toys like sensory balls and soft blocks for this baby age group.
Three to six months is the perfect age to start introducing bath toys and it is also the best way to make bath time fun for you and your baby. According to The Independent, bath toys should be easy to dry to avoid sogginess and mould or bacteria build-up. Silicon and rubber bath toys are great easy-to-dry options.
Bath toys that aid development and educate your baby should also be considered.
Why not incorporate bath time and reading time too? Our waterproof bath time books are a great way to educate and interact with your baby, whilst simultaneously developing their language skills.
Bath toys for babies
Interactive bath toys will make bath time fun for your little one and develop their cognitive skills.
The best baby toys for 6-12 months
As your baby reaches six to twelve months old they will enter the most vital playing stage of a baby's development. Your baby will start to learn more from playing and being around you than anything else. They will begin to explore even more with all of their senses and need things to touch, push, throw and put in their mouth. Due to this deepened sense of curiosity, make sure that the toys (and other objects) around you are safe for your baby.
Your baby will also start to develop a recognition for the sound of words and your voice at this age. They will show a deeper appreciation for books and pictures, so reading and communication during playtime with your baby is essential. Touch and feel books are particularly great for encouraging speech and language development.
Colourful and bright toys are also great at this age as it develops their vision for colour and imagination.
Teething toys for babies
Most babies start teething around six months. Teething toys are perfect for providing comfort and relief. Tender gums tend to feel better when the teething toy applies light pressure. We have a varied selection of teething toys at Childrensalon, including multi-purpose toys that can also be used as sensory and rattle toys.
Baby toys to develop motor skills - activity toys
Motor skills involve the coordination of hands and wrists. Babies can develop their motor skills by playing with toys that encourage them to push, pull, and put things together with their hands. Significant examples include activity cubes, puzzles and stacker toys.
A list of sensory toys to introduce at 6-12 months
- Textured toys - Textured toys will enhance their sense of touch.
- Mirrored toys - Mirrored toys will enhance their visual senses.
- Bright, colourful toys - Colourful toys will also enhance their visual senses and sense of colour.
- Visual toys - Visual toys that change colours, light up, or flash will stimulate colour receptors.
Babies will enjoy playing with toys that they can master. It is also more practical for you as a parent to only buy what they need at their particular stage of development. There are many different toys that you can introduce to your baby or as a gift for a loved one. At Childrensalon, we stock a variety of baby toys suitable for different ages and stages of development. In our baby gifts and toys section, you will find a choice of bath toys, activity toys, baby rattles, teething toys and much more. Let your baby's imagination run wild with our beautiful baby toy selection.
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