At first glance, toys might seem like a trivial item to give to babies and kids. In truth, play is an integral part of a baby’s development. Exploring and playing with their toys is one way they communicate their needs and learn more about how the world around them works. Fortunately, most baby presents and toys sold in stores are designed to address the specific motor and cognitive needs of a child based on their age. Different toys are created to help kids explore different colours and textures or practice their upper and lower motor skills.
How can you determine whether a toy is suitable for a baby’s age and current developmental stage? Check out the simple guide below:
At 0-4 Months, babies are beginning to explore their senses.
Infants use their sense of touch, sight, smell, and hearing to understand their environment. It is also how they get and process external cues from their parents and the people around them. It is suitable to give them pictures depicting different facial expressions, rattles, and musical toys. You can also give them soft, textured mats.
At 6-9 months, they have mastered better motor control, and they can also grip on things more securely.
Some of the suitable toys for this age group include squeeze balls, blocks, and toys that can be maneuvered like puzzles, or boxes with buttons that can be pressed, rolling pins and switches. You can also practice playing peek-a-boo with 6-9-month-old infants to help them develop and learn object permanence.
At 9-12 months, babies can do more advanced motor skills, such as standing and balancing on their feet, crawling, and walking.
At this age, babies begin to move around a lot. They might even try to reach areas that are either too high or too narrow for them. Ball pits, mini baskets, and carts are ideal for this age. Make sure that the movable toys are secure enough to prevent the child from slipping or falling.
At 12 months, babies—or rather, toddlers can mimic actions and words they see and hear. They are also beginning to learn the idea of cause-and-effect.
It is safe to give them puzzle blocks, where they need to put the correct shape in the space that bears the same silhouette, toys that they can pile together, activity boxes, crayons, pulling toys, and even rubber bath toys. Give them charts and instruments with different colours, flashcards depicting the alphabet and numbers, or sing nursery rhymes to them.
At 24 months, toddlers are beginning to construct simple, sensible sentences.
Some toddlers have already developed speech and motor skills by the time they reach the age of two. They have gained an understanding that they can express their emotions through other means, such as talking, shaking their head, nodding, smiling, or frowning. Storybooks and interactive toys where they learn about animal sounds and phonics will surely help broaden their vocabulary and encourage them to express their ideas verbally.
Picking toys for children and baby presents should focus more on how it will benefit them in the long run. Remember, their cognitive, emotional, and motor developments are also highly dependent on how you guide them and assist them in exploring their surroundings. By keeping in mind, the different stages of their motor and cognitive development, you help create a positive environment for the child that’s highly conducive to learning.