Between birth and the age of two years, toys are of a very specific kind for children. First of all, they need to be as safe as possible – that goes without saying. Secondly, they need to be of a nature that develops certain basic physical skills, such as touching, seeing, coordination and recognition.
Therefore, there is a good argument to be made for the fact that pretty much any (safe) object can be used as a toy. Most people who have been around babies will be aware that things such as pens, wallets, tissues, phones and other ephemera can be fascinating to them. And indeed, this can be an educational experience in itself, but many of us want to provide our children with specifically designed and tailored toys that can really make a difference to development and offer a tactile understanding of their environment.
An old one, a simple one, but a good one. Rattles never go out of fashion, with most babies taking delight in these thrilling shakers.
Rattles appeal to babies in several ways. Of course, they get delight from the funny noise they make. As well, they enjoy the visual stimulus from the color and unique shape of rattles. At first, a parent will be doing all the work with entertaining through rattles, but eventually the idea is that the baby or toddler picks up the rattle themselves and is able to create something approaching rhythm. Literally, these things become hours of fun.
It is an often told tale of how an adult still treasures a teddy bear from childhood well into old age. Such is the emotional bond between a baby and that special soft toy.
But soft toys also offer benefits in other ways. These objects can be physically grasped by babies, helping out their sense of touch, distance and coordination. It’s also possible that soft toys can provide a primitive introduction to the animal kingdom. They can also be used in role-play games.
Mobiles that hang above babies in their cribs or cots offer color, movement, shapes and sometimes even sounds. Mobiles can be mesmerising for babies, but be aware: at some point the inquisitive youngster will be able to reach out and grab them, potentially pulling them down. So seek out a mobile that is sturdy and lends itself to a child’s fingering, or be prepared to take them away at a certain point in time.
Soft blocks are an absolutely classic toy for toddlers. After a child has learned to walk, soft blocks allow the chance to develop coordination between arms and legs, and are also a very free way of learning about shapes, patterns and so forth. The pleasure of throwing the things around and knocking down towers can be extremely satisfying to a child.
Like blocks, balls are of great physical interest to babies. Balls can be rolled around, grabbed, thrown and squeezed, again helping out with motor skills and coordination. Your baby may not grow up to be Zinedine Zidane, but he or she can certainly enjoy the benefits of a soft ball.
Australian readers interested in buying toys, I urge you to head over to OO Shopping who offer a fantastic range of toys for all age groups, including an impressive range of educational toys.