Early stimulation from playing with toys boosts brain development. A baby’s brain is very plastic. As he or she goes through his first year, some synapses in his brain are strengthened while others disappear, suggesting that your baby should be stimulated in what you want him to be good at in his development stage – like walking.
The best toys for your baby are those that stimulate his five senses – his sight, hearing, touch and smell. Give him toys that give experiences of colors, textures, sound and smell. This helps his senses develop and become keen and accurate.
Toys that make noises and react to your baby’s actions give him a sense of control and develops his manipulation skills and coordination. An example is a rattle or a squeaking toy that makes a sound when he moves or squeezes it.
Keep in mind that your newborn’s vision is limited (he can’t see beyond 15 inches), that is why he responds best to black-and-white or brightly colored objects and graphics.
Also, your baby loves to put object in his mouth because he uses his mouth to “feel” things. Make sure all his toys are clean. He also needs teething toys made of soft material that helps strengthen the teeth. (Frozen teething rings soothe painful teething)
The best smart toys for your baby do not have to be expensive. Here are some ideas:
For babies 1 to 6 months:
- You – make sounds by clapping your hands and snapping your fingers, sing to him and rock him, making funny faces. You are his best toy ever.
- Small, bright colored toys hanging across his crib
- Small mirror – for him to visually focus and track himself (although he won’t recognize himself until he’s around 15 months old). Make sure that the mirror is safe and won’t injure.
- A drawing of a face – babies instinctively love human faces more than any other visual object
- A mobile with colorful objects that stimulate vision
- Gentle music from a CD or a streaming source
- A bright-colored ball, a hankie, a ribbon, etc. – which you can hold in front of your baby so he can track it with his eye. You can also encourage him to reach for it when he is about 8 to 10 weeks old.
- Activity centers or baby gyms that encourage reaching and grasping in the later months.
- Soft tubular pillow or tummy bolster that you can roll under his arms and chest while he lies on his tummy. This strengthens his neck, arm and back muscles and gives him a new position to view the world.
- Bright-colored blocks
- Safe household objects that your 3 to 6 month-old baby can explore with his touch like spoons, cups, bowls, etc.
For babies 6 to 12 months old:
- Plastic or rubber animals or dolls that can be washed.
- Push or pull toys that allow your baby to create movement.
- Big plastic blocks.
- Musical toys or toys that generate sounds when pressed.
- Empty cardboard boxes for crawling games.
- Big lego toys.
- Shape sorters or nesting cups that teaches your child about sizes and the concept of object permanence.
- Stuffed animals
- Push toys to help baby learn to walk
You can also shop for specific best baby toys available in the market:
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Black, White & Red, Smile, Baby 2-in-1 Crib & Floor Mirror
Your baby loves to see faces, especially his (or hers), that’s why this (plastic) mirror toy will provide your baby with a lot of fun and visual stimulation. In addition to the mirror, this toy has drawings of animal faces and patterns that he will enjoy looking at. The drawings are in black and white, which appeals to the young infant’s limited vision. It easily attaches to the crib rail with the cloth tie strings, and it also stands upright for tummy-time play. The soft cotton cloth material is easily washable.
Tiny Love Meadow Days Sunny Stroll Stroller Arch
Your baby’s stroller presents a great opportunity for him/her to stimulate his senses, as well as exercise his fine motor skills. You can attach this stroller arch to a variety of strollers, infant car seats and carry cots, and is easily angled for the ideal position for your baby’s maximum visibility. Your baby can enjoy a variety of activities – looking at colorful objects and the kaleidoscope-like prism, touching the varied textures, listening to the rattling bee, and activating the propeller.
BeeSpring Kid Baby Crib Cot Pram Hanging Rattles Spiral Stroller Car Seat Toy
This baby crib add-on is more inexpensive, but with a simpler design. Instead of being attached, the toy can be wound around the side of the crib, in any bar in the stroller or car seat, or in any rail near where your baby stays. Your baby will be busy entertaining him/herself looking at the black and white patterns, and play with the colorful objects that dangle from the toy.
Lamaze Freddie The Firefly
Your baby will enjoy hours of holding and grasping this toy while stimulating his/her senses and using his/her fine motor skills. Freddie the Firefly is made with soft velour body with multiple colors, black and white patterns at the back, and textures. The firefly’s layered wings has a mirror to help your baby focus, track himself, and explore his face. It has a squeaker, clacking rings and jingle sounds that stimulates your baby’s auditory sense, and even has a teether antenna to help sooth your baby’s gums. Although your baby can play with it as a standalone toy, it can be clipped to strollers and carriers so your baby can have fun wherever he/she goes.
B. Toys – One Two Squeeze Baby Blocks – Building Blocks for Toddlers – Educational Baby Toys 6 Months & Up with Numbers, Shapes, Animals & Textures – 10 Soft & Colorful Stacking Blocks
For babies 6 months and up, this classic stackable block toy introduces your baby to numbers, shapes, animals and textures. The 10 blocks are sculpted with 60 images in all, are of different colors, and are squeezable and chewable. They come in a clear plastic bag with easy storage. Parents can enjoy playing and having fun stacking the blocks with their babies, at the same time, be able to teach their babies about numbers.
Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes Musical Toy, Ages 3 months +
Babies love musical toys, especially those that play music when pressed. It stimulates their auditory development and promotes early music appreciation. This toy plays and toggles through 10 classical melodies when your baby press the large button, and also displays flashing lights that synchronizes with the music, making playing with the toy more engaging. It also fits the tiny hands of babies 3 months old and above, and also has a volume control, so parents can control the sound’s loudness.
Sassy Wonder Wheel Activity Center
This activity toy encourages your 6 month or older baby to reach and bat the toy to create movement. When spun, the colorful beads inside the wonder wheel cascades. This and the centerpiece spinners stimulates your baby’s visual tracking skills. The toy also helps develop fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination, and the multiple texture points encourages exploration by touching. The toy has a suction cup base that easily attaches to flat surfaces such as a high chair or table top.
Fat Brain Toys Dimpl Baby
This simple but engaging toy for babies 10 months and up consists of 5 colorful silicone bubbles built into a sturdy plastic frame. Your baby will stay preoccupied poking and grabbing the silicone bubbles over and over. It provides your baby sensory delight while exercising his/her fine motor skills and cause and effect learning.
The First Years Disney Baby Bath Squirt Toys, Finding Nemo
Bath time can be fun time for your 6+ month baby with these set of 3 squirt toys based on cute and colorful Nemo characters from Disney. Squirting water from these floating toys will engage your baby while you are giving him or her a bath.
VTech Drop & Go Dump Truck (Frustration Free Packaging)
Babies 6+ month old love push or pull toys that enable them to create movement. This colorful dump truck toy allows your baby to do that, as well as load the ball-shaped toy rocks through the truck’s cab, which the toy loudly counts, and unload them from the hinged bucket. Plus it also includes 3 colorful buttons that lights up and play melodies. 2 AAA batteries are required for these electronic features.
VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker
Parents love this unique and colorful walker toy from VTech because it encourages their 9 month old or older babies to stand and walk. Plus this colorful toy with a lot of activity centers engages the crawlers in sensory stimulating play for long periods of time whether they are sitting or standing. Toys like these that make sounds and react to babies’ actions give babies sense of control and develop their sensory skills and coordination. And of course babies love pushing this walker all over the house.
Fisher-Price Deluxe Kick & Play Piano Gym & Maracas
Baby gyms and activity centers stimulate vision from colorful objects and encourage reaching and grasping. This gym is special because it also surrounds your baby with musical stimulation as she interacts with it. One of the best ways for babies to learn is through music. With this toy, the learning content changes with your baby’s age and stage. In the earliest level, your baby enjoys 20 minutes of continuous music with playful lights, the latter level introduces your baby to playful songs that introduce her to colors, shapes and numbers. This musical gym also includes a detachable keyboard with 5 light-up keys which your baby can play with her feet, 5 repositionable activity toys and 2 rattle maracas!
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