Saturday, August 20, 2005

Toys for your baby and child

Shopping for your new baby is so fun! The itsy bitsy clothes, the cutest little shoes, and oh my, the gadgets and toys! So much out there, how do you choose? How do you know what you'll really need, and what your baby will like? With many years of experience, finding toys that kids love is second nature to me. I love toy stores (one of my favorites in Seattle is Top Ten Toys where young and old can play and play and play!

Here's a list of my very favorite toys:

Infant/Newborn to 3 Months:
1) You
2) You
3) You
That said, You are the best toy your baby can have up to 3 months. They don't have the ability to do much grasping and grabbing of toys yet, most toys are too stimulating and only manage to overwhelm baby, and the real world is plenty stimulating for them! Toys are just not needed this young.

3-6 Months:
1) Tiny rings that are easy to grab, that don't have lots of rings together - just one is perfect.
2) Silk cloths in colors - wonderful toys that will last through childhood!
3) The floor. Yes, I know it's expensive! :). Babies need lots of tummy time (40 minutes a day) and floor time is wonderful for them too. Place a blankie on the floor and let them lay around, playing with your face, getting massage, their rings and silkie cloths... Perfect. Remember, when baby turns her head away, she needs a break. Don't try and get her attention then, or it'll likely send her to overwhelmed land!

6-9 Months:
1) More rings, and more complicated grabby toys. I love the "Smiley" face by Sassy toys. Easy to grab, babies love the face on one side, and theirs on the other!
2) Soft baby dolls and stuffed animals might be fun now.
3) A mirror you can prop on the floor (there's lots of baby safe ones out there). Your face and theirs are fascinating!

9-12 months:
1) Musical sounds are very fun and exciting now. I love easy to use music boxes with pleasant rather than bright sounds. Bells are super fun!
2) Balls are great for learning to crawl, and crawling after. I like the ones that are soft and maleable, so they can be grabbed by little hands.
3) Outings! The zoo, park, water play... It's discovery time and going outdoors is a great way to discover!

Remember that play is only fun if you're both enjoying yourselves. Try to find toys you both find fascinating, fun and pleasant to have around. That loudly beeping play cell phone might grab baby's attention, but if you want to smash it after a few days, it's not much good to anyone! Also, as you see from my "minimalist" list above, having fun toys need not be expensive, or fill your home. Babies up to 1 year are very happy just hanging out at home, going for walks, playing with the same toys over and over. It may be you that's bored with the same old toys, try to keep that in mind.

Keep toys that baby tires of or stops playing with, and set it aside for a few months. Then, get it out and leave it for baby to discover. He'll remember the toy, and will spend a few days playing with it masterfully, and enjoying his expertise. What a wonderfully gratifying thing! Mastering toys is something they work very hard at, and it's fun for them to get to revisit that mastery and feel proud of themselves.

Get creative with toys, too! Toys are found in many places, especially in the home. I knew one baby that just loved washcloths. Sucking on them wet, playing with them dry... She always had one handy. Who knows why it was such a great toy for her, and who are we to ask! As long as it's safe and choke-proof, it's a great toy if baby says so!


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