One of the best things about childhood, which you may or may not remember, is all the TOYS! Even though the toys really start to get interesting once your baby reaches one year and begins to have an interest (and the ability) in the widely marketed “toddler” toys, there are still all sorts of toys that your one to 12 month old will enjoy playing with, as well as give them help with their motor skills and hand/eye coordination.
For the one-month to 12-month period there are basically four stages you should be concerned with when it comes to toys that will benefit, as well as capture the interest of, your baby. Here is a brief rundown of some suggestions for these phases:
Toys for newborns
During her first few months, before she learns to grasp objects or sit up on her own, your baby will enjoy things to look at and listen to. Her vision will still be fuzzy at first and she’ll focus on objects that are about eight to 14 inches from her eyes. She will be drawn to faces — and can recognize mom and dad’s faces at about one month.
She will thoroughly enjoy looking at high-contrast patterns, and bright colors will be particularly easy to see. She will have already learned to appreciate sounds and music. Objects that move around slowly and make quiet music will be much more interesting to your one month old than objects that are stationary and silent.
Mobile: A mobile can be a fascinating source of visual stimulus for a newborn baby. Look for ones with high-contrast colors and patterns as these will be the most visually interesting to your new baby. Many babies are particularly fond of mobiles that play music, so you may want to consider that before picking one out.
Perhaps choose one that plays a lullaby. Attach the mobile to the cot rail. Newborns look to the right 80 per cent of the time, so a toy hung overhead or on the left will be of limited value now. For safety reasons, keep the mobile out of your baby’s reach.
Music box: Music will be something your infant is very interested in. A music box or wind up musical toy will prove to be a fascinating object for a newborn baby.
Unbreakable mirror: Baby will love the look of faces, and although she will not realize it is herself she is seeing in the mirror, it will still be fascinating for her to look at. Look for a mirror you can fasten to the side of the cot or hang near a changing table.
Sound-making plush toys: Plush toys that make noises when squeezed or moved will be very interesting and can occupy the attention of a baby for long periods of time.
Between three months and six months your baby will discover how to use her hands. She will put much attention into her hands, grasping and gripping everything. Keep in mind that at this age she will be putting everything that she can into her mouth (and even trying to put some things in there that will surely not fit) so make sure anything you buy for her is safe for chewing. Also, never attach a toy to a cot or playpen with elastic or string, which could end up strangling or entrapping your baby.
Plush toys: Soft and cuddly plush toys are a childhood favorite and many children will begin to develop attachments to their little stuffed friends at right about this age.
Be very careful when choosing a plush toy for a baby this young. You will want to avoid toys that have parts that can come off (like sewn on button eyes) or wire portions that could poke your baby. As a rule, avoid any toy that has any part that baby could yank off and stuff into her mouth. Read labels that pertain to recommended ages.
Rattles: The baby rattle is the archetypical baby toy for the ages. Every baby at this age will love to make noise. You can try singing songs with your baby and having her accompany you with the rhythm of the rattle.
Play gym: For a baby who is still horizontal, this is a rack that comes with dangling toys or from which you can hang toys of your own. These “activity center” type toys have objects that baby can spin, grasp, push, pull, and otherwise manipulate, yet remain attached to a central console. Consider them “baby dashboards” for fun and games.
Colorful teething rings: These are great for gnawing on when her gums are sore. Some of these contain fluid that cools when you store them in the fridge and can provide cooling relief when your baby really needs it.
Squeaky rubber toys: Anything a baby can grip and squeak is usually very popular. These toys are perfect for the bath.
Baby Books: The puffy plastic air filled books and “board books” are also a popular item. It is never too soon to start reading to baby, as indeed many mothers begin while their baby is still in the womb.