Baby Toys: The Right Stimulation for Babies
QUESTION: I have a new baby. What infant toys would be useful?
If this is your first baby, you are likely finding that there is so much to know and so little time to get everything accomplished. But don’t stress over stimulation for your baby, for the first few days or weeks. They will fill their days with sleeping (hopefully), feeding and a little close interaction with you during their waking moments.
Stimulation Right from the Beginning
But be aware of recent brain growth studies.
“Van der Meer is a professor of neuropsychology and has used advanced EEG technology for many years to study the brain activity of hundreds of babies.
The results show that the neurons in the brains of young children quickly increase in both number and specialization as the baby learns new skills and becomes more mobile. Neurons in very young children form up to a thousand new connections per second.” As reported by Science Daily in 2017.
So early stimulation for babies is definitely very beneficial.
First Several Months
During the first month, your baby’s vision is fuzzy but eventually, she or he will learn to focus on an object. But their hearing is well developed. You will notice that he or she will turn his eyes or head to you when he or she hears your voice. When your newborn is more than a week old, they are already beginning to explore their world. You will want to begin to stimulate your child to promote their development.
You can capitalize on the baby’s acute hearing by using soothing music as a stimulation. As for visual stimulation, there are many ways to accomplish this safely. In all instances, you want to have the objects close to the baby but not touching the infant as you do not want to have any risk with your planned stimulation. A great distance at this stage of development is 20cm or 30cm away from his or her eyes. Some of the toys that are available can include both visual and acoustic stimulation for babies.
This mobile is multi- sensory with several musical songs or natural sounds as well as a starry show for the ceiling. The animals in the mobile rotate too to draw your baby’s attention.
Hang a reflective surface so that your infant can become familiar with their own face and body movements. In this instance, glass is not recommended as it could become a hazard.
This is a tummy time mirror but with some ingenuity it can be hung so your baby can see his or her reflection. Detach it and you can use in again for tummy time play.
Just be aware that interaction with key figures is the most important stimulation possible. Nothing can replace a loving touch, cuddle or caress. Did you know that infants as young as a few months old react to funny faces, wiggling your tongue or making crazy sounds? Some people find farting noises very effective. And when you catch your son or daughter mimicking you by sticking out their tongue too, you know that your “stimulation for babies” techniques are paying off.
3 Months: The Ability to Grasp
Safety First: Most babies at around 3 months old develop the ability to grasp. Their hand-eye coordination has now developed so that they can direct their movements. Make sure that every toy you select is safe, as every item will find its way to the mouth for sampling. In modern countries, there are strict regulations regarding the composition of baby toys.
This mobile is similar to a crib style but it is made for the baby to feel, listen to and teethe on. It is easily detached from the crib and mounts to strollers or car seats when you and baby are on the go.
If you receive gifts from well-meaning relatives, make sure that these toys have come through regulated channels. And if you do receive a toy as a souvenir from a foreign country, place it on a shelf, until your child is well beyond this oral sampling stage.
6 Months to a Year
Rolling Over, Sitting Up, Standing, Walking
Throughout these months, your child will learn to roll over on their own, sit up, and even pull themselves to a standing position. Many will be taking their first steps. Their abilities seem to change every day.
Research Backs Value of Stimulation
In the same study, Van der Meer “adds that the brains of young children are very malleable, and can, therefore, adapt to what is happening around them. If the new synapses that are formed in the brain are not being used, they disappear as the child grows up, and the brain loses some of its plasticity.”
She emphasizes the point that stimulation can make a significant difference in the capabilities that are developed. Throughout North America, some cultures believe that the baby will progress on their own without parental influence, but brain research demonstrates that growth is cultivated through constant stimulation of all of their senses.
To assist your child in becoming mobile it is helpful to provide weight bearing exercises. You can help your baby to stand, but this soon becomes time consuming. It is useful to find a baby toy that provides large muscle stimulation.
This sit to stand device includes a mat for tummy time as well as a supported seating area. You can adjust the sit to stand to grow with your baby from infant, through to toddler.
This sit to stand has no wheels for safety reasons. Sometimes the mobility of wheels leads the baby to the staircase and a tumble down the stairs.
This baby walker the Ford 150 is highly adaptable but parents must be vigilant to check the exits to make sure they are blocked off to prevent a spill.
There are many toys from which to select. Babies will be fascinated for a time with toys that appeal to their senses such as to that make sounds, different textures or ones that have movement. But later in this stage kids will need toys that they can control for imaginative play.
This kit has 3 different types of toys. The blocks can be used to stack. The characters represent living things that can move and make sounds and the balls have a sensory appeal.
With the balls, blocks and buddies toy your child can start to create a storyline of his or her own. The buddies can visit friends, talk to each other or make animal sounds. This integration of concepts has a lot of potential beyond simply a set of blocks on their own. By modelling how to be imaginative, you can stimulate your child’s creativity.
These stacking cups provide the perfect stimulation for investigation that leads to the understanding of spatial concepts.
It is important to provide just the right setting for your child. Begin by giving your child just 2 cups and perhaps 2 of the characters. He or she will be able to manipulate these cups to understand the size differences. Gradually add a cup or 2 to keep them challenged, until they can master stacking all 10. This will likely take several months. Your child will find many different ways to use these cups. Bath time is perfect for an exploration of pouring water. Peek a boo is another great game to play with the cups and characters.
You have most likely been reading to your baby all along but now is the time to introduce books that your baby can handle all by themselves.
The “Where is My Belly Button” soft books is one of many made for baby to touch, mouth and look at the pictures. Just turning the pages is developing elementary reading skills. The large pictures will catch your child’s attention.
As your baby matures into a toddler you will want to introduce some safe sensory play activities. You will want to avoid small items that could be swallowed.
Things that make sounds are fascinating for young children. You can start your baby off with simple percussion musical instruments. This kit will grow with your child.
These are just some of the wonderful toys that will amuse your baby
and promote their development.